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Hey guys! New to reloading and I think I have everything I need except a case trimmer and a powder scale. Now I need to keep cost down, but not at the expense of safety. What do you fellas recommend for these two categories that is both solid quality and doesn't break the bank? I am definitely willing to pay more in the scale area as an inaccurate powder charge sounds possibly dangerous.
 

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I haven't use a new case trimmer brand yet. Trim-It based on reviews is a great case trimmer. It trims a deburrs a case in a few seconds using an electric drill or drill press. The only short coming is you need a seperate die for each cartridge.
As for scales, I have been using the RCBS 10-10 scale for decades. It is accurate and very stable. Most digital scales take several seconds to stabilize.
If you decide to go with a traditional case trimmer, don't get one with a motor attached. You can use a 1/2 inch electric drill on most case trimmers by removing the trimmer handle. I have been using a manual RCBS case trimmer and manual deburring tool. They work okay but are slow.
 

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I use the old Lee trimmers for almost all of my case trimming chores - inexpensive and they do the job. Downside is that they aren't adjustable, so if you need to have a different case length for any reason, you'll need to upgrade to an adjustable (likely lathe-type) trimmer. That said, I've just recently gotten the .308 Forster 3-in-1 Cutter, which trims to length and chamfers both the inside & outside of the neck in a single operation - quite slick, and I'm going to be using it for all my .308 reloading.

I'm using an old Lyman scale - bought it used at a gun show 30 or so years ago, it's still dead-on accurate (Check weights used before each loading session). While I'm still partial to the traditional balance beam scales, I'm seriously thinking about a gemstone-grade electronic scale precise to ±0.02 grains I came across recently.

If you're thinking of getting a used balance beam scale check it over carefully, especially the knife edges and the fulcrums (support bearings) they rest in. Any damage or imperfection is reason to pass on a scale; on the other hand, if you find an old one with agate fulcrums and it passes inspection, grab it!
 

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I located a used Lyman case trimmer when I started reloading about 20 yeas ago, and I still use it. I think I paid $25-$30 bucks. Started with a Dillon scale and still use it, but seem to be relying on a $35 Hornady electronic scale mostly these days. You should be able to do the same with a little looking around. The all work well for me.
 

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FrankCastle, I guess my first question would be .... how many rounds a month do you anticipate? Lee makes a very simple and extremely cost effective (under 20 bucks for a complete setup) case trimmer that works quite well .... but it is slow. If you want more speed, there are many options from a system that looks like a miniature lathe to a fully automatic Dillon electric trimmer that mounts in a press.

I use a Forster Original ... had it for more than 20 years and it still works like a champ. Forster Original Case Trimmer Kit The Forester can be manually operated by turning a crank .... or it can be coupled to a cordless drill. It operates much faster than the above Lee and is fully adjustable, whereas the Lee tool is a fixed SAAMI standard trim length. I own a Lee set with several cartridge specific trimmers and shell holders and use it on rare occasions where I just want to do a couple cases.

Keep in mind ... if you buy a case trimmer, you will also need a decent caliper. Again, these are available in mechanical dial types or digital electronic types. One of the best buys is a 6" digital from Harbor Freight .... less than 20 bucks when on sale. I have one and have tested it against my high buck Swiss made micrometer ... accurate to .0001" and it holds it's calibration exceptionally well. It also has features that you don't get with a dial caliper .... such as direct readout and the ability to zero it anywhere in the 6" range .... much like the tare weight feature of a digital scale. This is handy for comparing the lengths of brass cases where you want to see +or - thousandths of an inch versus the full length.

As for scales .... there are tons of them available and most will do an excellent job. I do NOT recommend the Lee Powder scale ... it only weighs up to 100 grains .... pretty light if you want to weigh bullets. Ohaus makes RCBS balance beam scales and most other brands too and they are excellent. If you prefer electronics ... there are many available from 30 bucks to several hundred bucks. There is such a thing as being too accurate ... so go for one with .1 grain accuracy and you will be fine. I have several scales ... an older RCBS 510 (Ohaus) balance beam that is my "go to" scale for trickling and most reloading functions. I use one of my digital electronic scales if I want to weigh a batch of bullets. I have a gem stone scale that is accurate to .02 grains ... way too fussy for normal reloading but good for super precise powder charges in match grade ammo. Digital scales have their issues .... vibrations, air movement, temperature changes, even fluorescent lights and cordless phones may drive them crazy. Balance beam scales work ... no batteries, no hassles, plenty accurate, so that's what I would recommend for a first scale. Of course you have to be able to add the poise weights .... tenths, units, tens, and hundreds or you may end up with unexpected results. Digitals read out direct (ie 207.9 gr) so there is no math involved ... less chance of a mistake.
 

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I'd suggest you get some reloading equipment vendor's catalogs, read up, research to find tools and equipment that suits your needs/desires. Some tools work differently so how you work makes a difference (lefties have problems w/some tools and sometimes a hand tool "jes don't fit yer hands"). You may prefer green over red or black, or just like the looks of one over tool the other

Nearly any beam scale sold by a reputable equipment manufacturer will be a wise purchase (and many are made by the same maker and "re-branded"). I suggest a beam scale for a new reloader because you see whats going on with the beam moving with addition of powder to the pan, and a new reloader shoud not be in any hurry!

What caliber you're shooting can make a difference for which trimmer to choose, but for my bottlenecked cartridges I use the Lyman E-Zee Trim, much like Lee's trimming tool. Works great and not expensive. If you trim you'll need calipers for measuring length (I prefer dial calipers) and de-burring tools (I have used plain countersinks for case mouths, and Lyman tools for case mouth OD).
 

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Since you do not have a scale I cannot recommend strongly enough that you get a BALANCE BEAM SCALE. Balance beam scales work when nothing else will. They are accurate and repeatable. Electronic scales are good for convenience and you will eventually have one, as do I. Using the electronic in conjunction with a balance beam gives you two devices for weighing charges. My way of thinking while loading is that I have two devices telling me the same thing, they both ain't lying. These two are very good pieces of equipment.

http://www.brownells.com/reloading/...cales/rcbs-502-reloading-scale-prod54180.aspx

http://www.brownells.com/reloading/...gemaster-model-750-scale-110-v-prod39694.aspx


I use a Lyman Universal Case Trimmer. It comes with everything you need for trimming in one package. Some trimmers require using shell holders and some do not have all of the pilots. The Lyman Universal has self locking jaws and all of the pilots.

http://www.brownells.com/reloading/...universal-carbide-case-trimmer-prod38644.aspx


Since you mentioned case trimming I will take the liberty of addressing case mouth chamfer and deburr. You probably already have the hand held bullet shaped chamfer and deburr tool. It won't take long for you to find this tool exceptionally tedious. If you can't graduate to an electric motor driven tool for this I highly recommend the mounted tool base from Forster. I used one of these for a very long time until I graduated to an electric motor driven tool. Note that the Forster tool base will work with the Forster chamfer/deburr tool only.

http://www.brownells.com/reloading/...chamfering/deburring-tool-base-prod59414.aspx

http://www.brownells.com/reloading/.../deburring-tool-inside-outside-prod59413.aspx


This is the electric motor driven tool I now use.

http://www.brownells.com/reloading/...ady-lock-n-load-case-prep-trio-prod53967.aspx


Welcome to the affliction of hand loading. There is no turning back now.

Dan
 

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Case trimming (lathe type of expensive equipment and some cheaper ones) always are adjustable and as such subject to errors. I've fought this at the expense of large numbers of ruined cases over the years. So I've always been looking for a trimmer or trimming set up that eliminates the adjustability out of the equation. Now the Lee hand trimmers are of that description as they have a pilot/stud for each and every cartridge and it's the hardened pin that "adjusts" the cutting length and so you get far more uniform cuts from this hand trimmer unit, but it's also a big pain to do.

Enter in a closer examination of the Lee unit and another problem crops up. In that the studs for calibers have a split thread at the end where it enters into the cutting head. Well that split stud allows for quite a difference in overall cutting lengths. Several thousandths difference can be seen between a snugly tightened stud, to one that's put on with a little more authority. I can't deal with different shell lengths as that is what I was trying to avoid, remember?

Enter in the Lyman hand unit. It's first an "all steel" unit save for the carbide cutting head (extra cost) and rubber grip (another extra option). They sell the pilot studs in both pistol and rifle packs that include most all of the more familiar rounds shot by today's sportsman. Other calibers can be has on special order. The case locks into place on one grip half and the cutting head and pilot lock into themselves and are easily turned. The nifty thing about the Lyman unit is that the cutting head can be screwed into the "hand" unit, or screwed into the "power" unit where a cordless drill or better yet with its hex stud, a simple and inexpensive drill driver will power this cutting unit. It uses regular shell holders so there is nothing else to by and it works like a champ, producing round after round of consistently trimmed cases. It's the only way to go and with a TV tray you don't have to go out to the garage or reloading shed to do this work. Definitely worth a look, Smithy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Lots of good replies, guys. Thank you. Ok, so far I'm really into the balance beam idea. Accurate and non-fussy are sounding good. Real good! Case trimming... Many suggestions here that sound very good that I will investigate. I already have digital calipers that I verified are accurate. So that's set and I have the deburring tool too. So, the investigation begins. But keep the suggestions coming!

I'm going to be loading the calibers that are hitting squarley in the wallet for now, and since they are powerful ones, I'd rather be slow, methodical, and very carefull. No kabooms wanted! I'm looking at .44 Magnum, .45 Colt +P, .454 Casull, and eventually .480 Ruger (whenever Lipsey's decides to ship the special run Bisley I ordered). My plan is to clean, trim, prep and prime cases as a group. Then, take one case, carefully measure the powder charge, and then seat the bullet. This way I don't "double charge" a cartridge. Can you imagine a double charged .454 round? Forget blowing up the gun, I might actually create a small nuclear-explosion!
 

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Lots of good replies, guys. Thank you. Ok, so far I'm really into the balance beam idea. Accurate and non-fussy are sounding good. Real good! Case trimming... Many suggestions here that sound very good that I will investigate. I already have digital calipers that I verified are accurate. So that's set and I have the deburring tool too. So, the investigation begins. But keep the suggestions coming!

I'm going to be loading the calibers that are hitting squarley in the wallet for now, and since they are powerful ones, I'd rather be slow, methodical, and very carefull. No kabooms wanted! I'm looking at .44 Magnum, .45 Colt +P, .454 Casull, and eventually .480 Ruger (whenever Lipsey's decides to ship the special run Bisley I ordered). My plan is to clean, trim, prep and prime cases as a group. Then, take one case, carefully measure the powder charge, and then seat the bullet. This way I don't "double charge" a cartridge. Can you imagine a double charged .454 round? Forget blowing up the gun, I might actually create a small nuclear-explosion!
Sounds like a great plan! One more equipment suggestion - if you ever decide to use a flash hole reamer/cleaner tool in a drill, do so with a thick pair of leather gloves. Reason being, when the bit binds in the flash hole, the casing accelerates to the RPM's of the drill and your fingers are located on the newly trimmed and rather sharp opposite end. Yep, just take my word for it! :(
 

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Of course a lot of powder selection these days are the powder (that happens to be on your dealer's shelf, when you are buying powder) that you didn't necessarily want to load with. If you are patient and persistent, then trail boss might be a consideration. It is a bulky powder and thus takes a lot of volume (not weight) to charge a case. In this fashion, the case is filled rather quickly with a usable load so that a double charge is impossible. It simply cannot fit inside the case. That sounds like a safe powder for me? Smithy.
 

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Been reloading several years, and I currently use 2 lyman case trimmers. I use the lyman universal with power drill attachment, dead on every time. I have used the hornady lock and load trimmer, do not like its way of clamping the base by using a shell holder. The lyman has a universal so no shell holders required for almost every caliber. The hornady has some wobble. I also own a lyman 50 bmg trimmer, cuts the nice and square everytime. Both are lathe types.

As far as dispensers I have used 3 different hornady scale dispensers, all lock and loads, 2 of which are friends and I personally have owned one for 3 or 4 years. It works with 380acp all, the way up to 50bmg and 240 grains of powder. As long as you set it up to the loads and powders it works great. Its night and day faster over of the balance beam which I also own but can use. Its charges it throws are accurate to .01 grains. Walmart sometimes sells them on the website for under $200. I recommend them.
 

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Most pistol cases won't need much trimming. The cases are by comparison much shorter than rifle cases. That said it doesn't hurt to measure them.
Part of case prep is cleaning(tumbling) the cases. For years my primary case cleaning involved a vibrating tumbler and crushed corn cobs imbedded with jewelers polish. A little over a year ago I found a better way. I use a rotating tumbler, stainless steel pellets, Dawn diswashing soap and lemi-shine. After resizing and depriving the cases I put them in the tumbler with the previously mentioned stuff add water and start tumbling. The cases come out clean inside and out. The primer pockets are cleaned as well. The cases look brand new. I run them through a vibrating tumbler for about a hour to polish the cases and remove any tarnish. I like clean cases. I just ordered a Trim-It to see how it works. I will post a report on the Trim-It after I use it for awhile.
You have the right idea about taking your time and doing one thing at a time. I prep my cases and prime them. When I need more ammo I grab a batch of cases that have been prepped and primed and load the cases with powder and bullets.
A few other pointers. I separate cases by brand. I started doing this when I began 45 Long Colt. The different brand cases didn't fit in a single shellholder. Different brand cases have just enough differences to require tweaking the dies. A dial caliper is a good thing to have. For straight wall cases carbide dies make light work out of resizing cases. They cost more but are well worth it. While I use a RCBS 10-10 scale to measure powder, I usually use a digital scale to measure case and bullet weights.
Good luck and be careful.
 

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I have used the hornady lock and load trimmer, do not like its way of clamping the base by using a shell holder.
Nor sure about Hornady since I've never owned their trimmer(s), however the shell holding use of the Lyman hand trimmer is top notch. It uses what looks like a cut off section of reloading press ram. You know the part that has the T slot that you'd normally insert your shell holder and in this case you do just that in inserting the shell holder. Now what keeps it in place and securely tightened and top notch is the fact that the (seems like) ram portion of the hand trimmer is threaded for a hardened steel shaft. That shaft threads into the holder and through the shell holder and takes up any slack in the system so that it is perfectly flat with the base of the cartridge case. In that way you are truly getting the exact "case length" you are after. After all, the case length measurement given for a particular cartridge is for the distance from the base of the case to the outermost edge of the case mouth.

I know other trimmers rely upon the shoulder and other points of reference to a collet and pilot, lathe type of trimmer that is based upon nothing else but ones own adjustments. The latter proved to be a very weak link in my case since I was a bit off in both my measurements as well as my settings on the various trimmers I've put to use. Again, with the Lyman hand trimmer it relies solely upon a factory produced hardened steel rod that serves as not only a case pilot, but case length gauge as well. The hardened tip of this combo pilot/case length tool allow the carbide cutting head to tear through the brass in a nice uniform manner until the pilot's tip comes into contact with the hardened stop of the threaded insert which holds the case into place.

Sounds complicated but it really is not. Quite ease now that I mention it and as far as "wobbly" is concerned? Far be it from the actual truth. Held rock solid and secure just until you are ready to loosen by hand and swap out cases to the next one to be trimmed. Look here and you'll get the idea I hope?

Lyman Products Your Primary Source for Reloading Equipment

More description than pictures, but it's straight from the horses mouth so to speak. You can read in the upper items of this page, the various calibers included in the rifle or the handgun packs so to know if your particular caliber is located there, or if you'd need to purchase your caliber separately? I found all of my calibers located in the standard package and did not have to buy anything extra. Great stuff this lyman hand trimmer is and with my drill driver, I can literally whip out many more cases than the traditional hand turned or powered lathe type of trimmers, and there is absolutely NO ADJUSTMENTS to be made at all. It eliminates any sort of guesswork one the users part and all you end up with is perfectly trimmed shells. Smithy.
 

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The hornady has a rubber o ring that centers the shell holder on the shaft, which is why it wobbles in my testing. Here is the 2 lymans I have and swear buy, never an issue with them.


Lyman Products Your Primary Source for Reloading Equipment

Lyman Products Your Primary Source for Reloading Equipment

I have also used the little crow gun works, worlds finest trimmer for high volume .223 and .308, works well, but the lathe types work better for me for precision.


Trimmers at Little Crow Gun Works
 

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FWIW; I, and many, many other reloaders do not trim revolver brass. I have been reloading for nearly 30 years and while I have meaured case length several times I have not trimmed a case in mebbe 25+ years. I have produce some very accurate loads for my .44 Magnums using "un-measured/un-trimmed" brass. It jes ain't necessary...
 

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Hey guys! New to reloading and I think I have everything I need except a case trimmer and a powder scale. Now I need to keep cost down, but not at the expense of safety. What do you fellas recommend for these two categories that is both solid quality and doesn't break the bank? I am definitely willing to pay more in the scale area as an inaccurate powder charge sounds possibly dangerous.
Ya' gonna be loading bottleneck or straight wall cases? Straight cases generally don't need trimming, unless they are brand new. On the balance beam scale, be sure to get one with a magnetic damper, and above all, get it a dust cover. Mine's going on 50. Still works perfect.

Look at a powder trickler too. Redding makes consistently high quality scales and trickler, most other reloading items too.

Radio George
 

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I concur with Radio George on getting a balance beam scale. I have been using a RCBS 10-10 scale since 1977 and it works great as I posted earlier.
I also agree that you usually don't have to trim straight wall cases, especially handgun cases. The only exception is if you are using the new Hornady bullets with the synthetic tips in lever action rifles. In my 45/70 Marlin I had to trim the cases down below the minimum length so I could eject live rounds from the rifle.
As for trimming cases, I have used a RCBS manual trimmer and hand held case rebutting tool. As far as I'm concerned is the worst part of case prep.
I recently learned of the Trim-It case trimmer and ordered one with .308 and 30/06 dies. I will post my review on it after I have used it.
 

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Given the fact you, at least for now, only loading straight wall cases I wouldn't worry too much about a trimmer. For a trimmer I have an RCBS trimmer with a 3 way head. The three way head trims, de-burrs, and chamfers the case at one time. I have never trimmed a .44 magnum nor any of the other straight wall cases. Scale wise I've got an RCBS 10-10 (balance beam) which has weighed thousands of charges. Have fun and Be SAFE.
 
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