Hands-On: Lyman Universal Case Trimmer

Want a trimmer that can do it all? The Lyman Universal Case Trimmer can accommodate calibers from .22 to .458 without extra collets and can be converted to a power trimmer!

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About the Lyman Universal Case Trimmer

You may remember that we did a story on Lyman’s Ultimate Reloading System recently:

Lyman ULTIMATE Reloading System – Unboxing and Overview! – Ultimate Reloader

Since then we’ve also taken a look at one component of that systems, the Lyman Gen 6 electronic powder dispenser. The Lyman Universal Case Trimmer is another component of Lyman’s Ultimate Reloading System, and a good one! I’m familiar with this case trimmer, having used one often in the past.

It’s well-designed, well-built, and capable of trimming a wide variety of cartridge cases. The trimmer comes with nine pilots ranging from 22 to 45 caliber, and others can be ordered from Lyman. For instance, my varmint rifle is a 204 Ruger. There’s no 20 caliber pilot included, but one is available for a modest fee.

From Lyman’s website:

Trim virtually all cases from .22 to .458 without additional collets.

Lyman’s Universal Trimmer features the patented Universal Chuckhead which handles any case from .17 caliber to .458. No costly collets required! Features coarse and fine adjustments. Adjusting ring lets you “dial in to an approximate setting for quick repeatability”. Includes 9 of the most popular pilots. Additional pilots add even greater range of calibers. Optional power adapter lets you upgrade to power in seconds. Whether you need to reload ammo for a 9MM or a .458 Magnum, shop the Lyman Universal® Trimmer for a versatile case trimmer today!

As the web description notes, an interesting part of this trimmer’s design is the chuck head. It relies on the empty primer pocket to center up the cartridge case.

I found it impressive that the chuck works well with such a wide range of cases. I tried it with the little 204 and 223 cases, standard 308 cases, belted magnum cases and the 45-70 (which has an unusually large diameter rim). The Lyman Universal Case Trimmer easily handled them all.

The cutter is easily removed for replacement or sharpening. Lyman also produces a version of this case trimmer with a carbide cutter for even better tool life.

Trimmer in Use

At the Ultimate Reloader shop we clamped the trimmer to the Ultimate Reloader bench system.

It was rock-solid and remained so while I trimmed the 223 and 308 brass. At home, with my own much smaller bench, I mounted the trimmer on a board, using three screws. It’s easy for me to clamp the board in my bench-mounted vise, use it, and then remove it, getting it out of the way when I’m finished trimming cases. At my home reloading bench, I kept the case trimmer hand-powered, though it can easily be adapted for use with an electric drill or a power screwdriver.

The rotating handle is knurled for a better grip, and is comfortable to use.

Why trim cartridge cases?

I learned this lesson long ago when I was 18 or 19 years old and using a 6mm Remington for varmint shooting. I knew the basics of handloading: case sizing, priming, charging with powder and seating a bullet, but I had no idea that brass cases stretch!

.308 and .223 cases

Eventually, after several firing and resizing cycles, the case necks had stretched enough that the loaded case was difficult to chamber. Being inexperienced, I went ahead and chambered the rounds and fired them anyway. Primers were flattened, and I was looking at a potentially dangerous situation. A little more reading in a handloading manual guided me to the need for case trimming, and it’s been part of my handloading ever since.

Some cases stretch more than others. I have some 38 Special and 45 ACP brass that I’ve fired and reloaded many times over the years. They never seem to stretch at all. On the other hand, I find myself trimming the 6mm Remington, 25-06 and 30-30 cases regularly. It’s a necessary part of case prep.

Conclusion

Lyman’s Universal Case Trimmer is a component of the Lyman Ultimate Reloading System and is also available as an individual tool. I’ve found the Lyman Universal Case Trimmer to be a versatile and useful tool. It comes with the pilots necessary to trim .22, .24, .27, .28, 30, 9mm, .35, .44 and .45 caliber cases, enabling it to be used to trim a wide variety of cartridge cases.

Above: HSS Cutter without pilot to show flutes and geometry

As my loading bench isn’t particularly large, space is at a premium and I appreciate both the compact design of this case trimmer and that it’s easily mounted permanently to the bench or to a portable board.

Get the Gear!

The Lyman Universal Case Trimmer has a MSRP of $129.95 and is available from Midsouth Shooters Supply for $100.35.

Additional pilots in other calibers are also available from Midsouth at approximately $5 each such as this .26 cal trimmer suitable for the 6.5 Creedmoor.

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Thanks,
Guy Miner

 

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