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  #1  
Old 06-23-2012, 7:24 PM
adrenalinejunkie adrenalinejunkie is offline
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Default CTS Case Trimmer Review (In Depth and pic heavy))

Review split up because I can only insert 6 images per post.

I recently purchased a Possum Hollow case trimmer because I was tired of trimming cases with my ball trimmer by hand. It was definitely faster, but there was a degree of inconsistency with the case lengths, and the cases didn't fit snugly in the trimmer. I ran across the CTS trimmer on eBay one day and decided to give it a try. I was especially curious because I previously posted a thread asking if anyone had any experience with it, and couldn't find someone that had.

I contacted Jim the seller and owner, and received a prompt response. Throughout my communication with him, he was extremely courteous and informative, and even offered to tune up my load info and gave me some reloading tips (he's been reloading for a long time and the fact that this trimmer was created by a reloader gives it bonus points in my book). I waited to trim my cases (I had hundreds to trim) until I received my trimmer so I could do a review and comparison to the PH trimmer.

Initial impressions:
I received my trimmer promptly after he shipped it, and my first impressions were great. It seems extremely well designed and robust. The fact that it has 2 large set screws over the one small one on the PH trimmer is also reassuring. The trimmer also comes with detailed instructions, a clear plastic storage case, and an allen wrench for the set screws (really nice touch because I had to dig out a tiny one for the PH).











Trimmer design:
The CTS trimmer seems to be designed similarly to the WFT, except there are no moving parts and ball bearings as with the WFT. I have no experience with the WFT so any comparison is just from what I have heard. There is a large cavity around the cutter for positive shaving ejection, which is a huge plus over the PH and its one small hole next to the cutter. This makes for a much more consistent cut because shavings aren't getting trapped in the trimmer.


Last edited by adrenalinejunkie; 06-24-2012 at 9:01 AM..
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Old 06-23-2012, 7:25 PM
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The plastic-like insert at the mouth is a blended material and apparently used in the marine and aviation industries. It hugs the case tightly in the trimmer mouth and allows very little play. This is unlike the PH trimmer, in which there is about a millimeter of space around the case.





An advantage that I see with the PH trimmer is that the trimmer can be removed from the power adapter to accommodate a chamfer/debur tool for cases that need that. I like to do mine by hand so I don't overdo it though. The CTS trimmer also makes a much cleaner cut and there is no need for chamferring/deburring as I will explain in a bit.

Set up:
I set mine up with a case trimmed to 1.752 in and tightened the set screws tightly. Set up is easy for both trimmers because it can be done this way. The part that chucks into the drill is much larger and sturdier on the CTS. There is more that goes into the drill as well making it more stable.



Size and weight comparison:
As you can see, the CTS is larger, but it is actually lighter than the PH (because of the aluminum alloy body and composite mouth insert). The CTS weighs in at 3.504 oz while the PH weighs in at 4.780). The 1+oz savings in weight means the drill uses less battery to spin the trimmer, thus extending battery life as well (I heard the drill spinning more slowly with the PH attached).





I used a battery powered drill which got pretty old after a while (especially when the battery started to die so it took longer to trim the cases). I had it plugged into the wall the whole time otherwise it would've died halfway through.

Jim also sells a motor coupler so you can hook the trimmer up to a small motor and change trimmers quickly between calibers. I might end up investing in this even though the drill is MUCH faster than trimming by hand.

Case trimming:

EDIT: *Jim recommends in the instructions that all cases be resized in your own resizing die before being trimmed for the best consistency.

The CTS trimmer spun very smoothly in the drill, and it was immediately obvious when it stopped trimming (indexes off the case shoulder). The tight fit around the case made for an even cut and little vibration. The open area around the case with the PH meant a LOT more vibration in the drill and in the case which got annoying after a short while.

The open ejection area of the CTS made for easy shaving ejection (I HIGHLY recommend using a bucket under the trimmer for any drill trimmer because of the shavings they create). The shavings were mostly held to the walls with centrifugal force and then when the drill stopped they fell into the bucket.

The PH has a smaller ejection hold and it's only on one side, which means more shavings get left in the trimmer. This can mar the case and cause inconsistent trimming IMO.

I noticed larger variation in case lengths with the PH than with the CTS (largest I saw with the CTS was .001 in but it was mostly dead on). I would assume this is because of the 2 larger set screws vs the one smaller one on the PH.

EDIT: Jim says that the small variance in case lengths comes from the inner case mouth not being lubed. This causes the neck to stretch a bit, thus increasing the C.O.A.L. The trimmer still cuts the same every time. To solve this, simply lube the inside of the case mouths.

It also took longer to trim cases with the PH because of the more open design of the mouth and I would assume the cutter design as well. The cutter seems to be designed more intricately on the CTS.



I averaged maximum 3 seconds trim time per case with the CTS with the longer cases but it took mostly around 2 seconds per case. Trim time with the PH was up to 4 seconds most likely because of the vibration.

Last edited by adrenalinejunkie; 07-24-2012 at 5:18 PM..
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  #3  
Old 06-23-2012, 7:25 PM
adrenalinejunkie adrenalinejunkie is offline
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Chamfer/deburring:
With the CTS, I did not need to chamfer/debur the cases. The cut was extremely smooth and uniform. The PH trimmed cases needed it although the burr on the outside of the mouth wasn't too bad. I tried to get a close up picture of the post-trim case mouths but my camera wouldn't focus.

Jim says that this cut cleanliness and uniformity increases accuracy. I haven't had the chance to get out on the range and test that yet.

Both trimmers can also be used by hand if you don't have a drill or yours runs out of battery, which is a nice touch. It's slower but is still better than a ball trimmer because it takes away the cutting, measuring, cutting, measuring as with the ball trimmer when not used with the case holder.

Case marks:
Both trimmers leave scoring marks on the case body from trimming, but that's honestly not a huge deal for me because these became much less noticeable before when I polished my rounds after trimming with the PH. I would assume the same would apply with the CTS.





Pricing:
The CTS is $42.95 shipped, and the optional motor coupler is $15.10 shipped.

The PH was ~$35 shipped.

Final impressions:
Overall, I think that the CTS is an outstanding trimmer, especially for the money. It does not have a ball bearing system as with the WFT, but IMO this means less chance of trimmer failure. I see this as a great less expensive alternative (almost half the price). I think it's worth the money over the PH due to design, weight, trim consistency, and trim cleanliness.

Jim is an awesome guy to deal with, and answers messages faster than any eBay seller i've previously dealt with. He also has trimmers in other calibers and can make custom ones as well. You can tell that customer service is a huge deal to him (as shown with his 2 week money back or exchange return policy with the shipping on him).

Here is a link to the .223/5.56 case trimmer, and you can find his other ones by clicking view other items on the right hand side.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/CTS-223-5-56...#ht_511wt_1397

Yes it was a long review, but I had a great experience and the trimmer is not well known on this forum, so I thought i'd share.
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Old 06-23-2012, 8:21 PM
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Well done, thanks!
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Old 06-23-2012, 8:24 PM
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Originally Posted by OldShooter32 View Post
Well done, thanks!
Thanks! And no problem glad to do it. I think this deserves to have its name out there
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Old 06-23-2012, 9:00 PM
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Trimming off of datum is the best way to go but Giraud is too expensive. PH and WFT make trimming mobile, easy and almost painless. Never heard of CTS but now I know which one I'll buy, thanks!

Have you tried using it to trim by hand instead of drill? I wonder how hard it'd be out in the field with no drill.
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Old 06-23-2012, 11:00 PM
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Great writeup, thanks!

You can get a bench top drill press pretty cheaply, that will ease some of your issues with the hand drill. I run my PH trimmer about 500 or 600 RPM and the chips clear nicely, so I imagine they will clear even better from yours.

Do you think the insert composite material will stand up to years of use or do you feel it will wear out after a while?
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Old 06-24-2012, 12:40 AM
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I literally bought another PH trimmer this morning, too bad you didnt write this earlier, i would have given it a shot.

Seems he only has them for 300 blackout, .223, .308, and 50 bmg.

I have 4 possum Hollow trimmers now, but if i start loading another rifle caliber ill definatley give these a shot.

You did a great write up and it really sold me on the design
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Old 06-24-2012, 12:49 AM
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I am still in the learning process so thanks for this review... I need a case trimmer and have a desk top drill press that doesn’t get much use so this seems like a great option.

Since it indexes off the case shoulder, do you resize before trimming?

I don’t know if the RCBS case trimmer would be a better option since it takes into account the overall length of the casing vs indexing off the shoulder. I was thinking of getting the RCBS Trim Pro with the 3-way cutter head. This option would save me some money.

Any input for a greenhorn?
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Old 06-24-2012, 8:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huckberry668 View Post
Trimming off of datum is the best way to go but Giraud is too expensive. PH and WFT make trimming mobile, easy and almost painless. Never heard of CTS but now I know which one I'll buy, thanks!

Have you tried using it to trim by hand instead of drill? I wonder how hard it'd be out in the field with no drill.
Exactly. I believe that this is a much less expensive and still a great and consistent option. I have tried using it by hand and it's not bad at all. The large trimmer body is easy to grip and easy on the hands. It's a bit more awkward than PH by hand because of the larger part that you chuck into the drill, but that's a compromise for a more stable trimmer in the drill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyathyrio View Post
Great writeup, thanks!

You can get a bench top drill press pretty cheaply, that will ease some of your issues with the hand drill. I run my PH trimmer about 500 or 600 RPM and the chips clear nicely, so I imagine they will clear even better from yours.

Do you think the insert composite material will stand up to years of use or do you feel it will wear out after a while?
Thanks! I'm definitely going to look into that after I get more money haha. The material seems very solid and well-designed, so I would assume it would. Jim said that it's used in marine and aviation so I would think that this stands up to some pretty tough use.

EDIT: I sent Jim the link to this thread after I was finished and with regard to this he said he has a trimmer with over 30,000 cases spun, and the material has not worn out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markdoddridge View Post
I literally bought another PH trimmer this morning, too bad you didnt write this earlier, i would have given it a shot.

Seems he only has them for 300 blackout, .223, .308, and 50 bmg.

I have 4 possum Hollow trimmers now, but if i start loading another rifle caliber ill definatley give these a shot.

You did a great write up and it really sold me on the design
Ah yeah bad timing but yeah i'd definitely say i've this a shot if you get another trimmer. Thanks for the kind words I appreciate it. Just trying to get a great product out there for a cool guy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ExtremeX View Post
I am still in the learning process so thanks for this review... I need a case trimmer and have a desk top drill press that doesn’t get much use so this seems like a great option.

Since it indexes off the case shoulder, do you resize before trimming?

I don’t know if the RCBS case trimmer would be a better option since it takes into account the overall length of the casing vs indexing off the shoulder. I was thinking of getting the RCBS Trim Pro with the 3-way cutter head. This option would save me some money.

Any input for a greenhorn?
Yeah thanks for reminding me i'll edit the first post to include that all cases should be resized in your own resizing die before trimming. IMO I think that even though this doesn't take into account case OAL, it does the job very well and it MUCH faster than a setup like the RCBS. The RCBS is faster then by hand, but you still have to put each case in the trimmer and with the CTS you just grab a case, put it in the trimmer mouth, then grab the next one. The RCBS is also 3x the price haha.

Last edited by adrenalinejunkie; 06-24-2012 at 9:08 AM..
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Old 06-24-2012, 9:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdoddridge View Post
Seems he only has them for 300 blackout, .223, .308, and 50 bmg.
He only has these, but if you send him a case, he'll make you a custom trimmer for the same price ($42) as his others.

I also picked up a CTS earlier this week (I got the motor adapter too). I have two PH trimmers, but both of them had trouble with the allen screw stripping out the threads on the body; the CTS trimmer's screws are beefier and the case is thicker, so there's a much better bite.
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Old 06-24-2012, 9:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eargasm View Post
He only has these, but if you send him a case, he'll make you a custom trimmer for the same price ($42) as his others.

I also picked up a CTS earlier this week (I got the motor adapter too). I have two PH trimmers, but both of them had trouble with the allen screw stripping out the threads on the body; the CTS trimmer's screws are beefier and the case is thicker, so there's a much better bite.
+1 on everything in this post. The custom trimmer option speaks even more to his service. The set screws are definitely much larger than with the PH, and 2 screws means a more secure hold.
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Old 06-24-2012, 9:25 AM
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I found much smoother operation running at 2000-3000 rpm. No chatter and no need to debur . Please some one try the ph at high speed and report findings here. But the cts looks like a superior product to be sure. I have not found a detriment to running high speed in the drill press. Think harbor freight $85 special type..
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Old 06-24-2012, 3:34 PM
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I just ordered a CTS trimmer for .223/5.56

I have a drill press so hopefully it works out well for me. I might get the .308 trimmer as well but I’m not sure if it’s the ideal for match ammo since it indexes off the shoulder and I only next size, not full length size.

I still like the RCBS Trim Pro and the 3-way head but it does cost a lot more. Hopefully I don’t need to chamfer and deburr like you mention here.
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Old 06-24-2012, 3:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freonr22 View Post
I found much smoother operation running at 2000-3000 rpm. No chatter and no need to debur . Please some one try the ph at high speed and report findings here. But the cts looks like a superior product to be sure. I have not found a detriment to running high speed in the drill press. Think harbor freight $85 special type..
I'm curious as well to see how the PH preforms at high speed, but at the speed that I ran the CTS at, there was a lot of chatter. In for anyone who wants to test that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ExtremeX View Post
I just ordered a CTS trimmer for .223/5.56

I have a drill press so hopefully it works out well for me. I might get the .308 trimmer as well but I’m not sure if it’s the ideal for match ammo since it indexes off the shoulder and I only next size, not full length size.

I still like the RCBS Trim Pro and the 3-way head but it does cost a lot more. Hopefully I don’t need to chamfer and deburr like you mention here.
Awesome yeah I think you'll definitely be happy with that setup. Not sure about neck-sized cases though. If you send Jim a message i'm sure he'll answer your question. I just loaded up 120 rounds today with some cases I trimmed with the CTS, and there was no bullet-shearing whatsoever, and the outer rim of the mouth is smooth with no burr. I think you'll be good in that department.
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Old 06-24-2012, 6:09 PM
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So it is essentially a Giraud trimmer without the 9 month wait and 400 price tag?
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Old 06-24-2012, 6:28 PM
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So it is essentially a Giraud trimmer without the 9 month wait and 400 price tag?
Hahaha essentially except the CTS indexes off the case shoulder. I'd say it's worth it to save $350 though!
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:18 PM
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Just shot him an email for him to build me one for .300 Winmag, 7.62x54r, and 22-250. Hopefully he accepts forms of payment other than paypal
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Old 07-05-2012, 7:47 AM
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Can you post a close up pic of the case mouth on a case trimmed with the CTS.

I am using the possum and it's a pain in the arse to get any kind of consistency with it..
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Old 07-05-2012, 4:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quinc View Post
Can you post a close up pic of the case mouth on a case trimmed with the CTS.

I am using the possum and it's a pain in the arse to get any kind of consistency with it..
I tried posting a close up pic but my camera wouldn't focus well enough to see the detail even on the macro setting :/ I can tell you though that it's smooth and needs no chamfering or deburring. Definitely worth it
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Old 07-07-2012, 6:37 AM
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quinc, what speed are you at on the ph? spin it about 2000-3000 rpm had zero issues with consistancy on the ph
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Old 07-24-2012, 5:19 PM
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Still in contact with Jim. Stay tuned for a full-blown trimming station review!
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Old 07-24-2012, 6:04 PM
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Are any of you guys using a portable hand drill with the CTS trimmer?

My only options are my portable drill or my drill press...
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Old 07-24-2012, 7:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExtremeX View Post
Are any of you guys using a portable hand drill with the CTS trimmer?

My only options are my portable drill or my drill press...
That's what I used for the review. Mine is battery powered and it died after a while even when connected to the wall. A much better option would be something like the powered benchtop setup that i'll be reviewing next.
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Old 07-24-2012, 7:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freonr22 View Post
quinc, what speed are you at on the ph? spin it about 2000-3000 rpm had zero issues with consistancy on the ph
I think right around 3000. The screw is pretty stripped though so it could be moving... =/ I might try a lath type trimmer next or break down and get the Dillon..
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Old 07-24-2012, 8:37 PM
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Got mine about a week ago and love it! its really well thought out, another thing besides not having to chamfer and deburr, is that the bit that chucks into the drill is connected directly to the part that cuts. This means you can set cutting depth by measuring the back chuck (Way easier)
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:44 AM
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Everyone talks about using a drill press for this... why not a table-top router?

I like the idea of just leaving the trimmer spinning, and pressing the cases down into it; i'd just have to get used to the idea of indexing off the shoulder for trimming instead of cutting the whole case to length.

This trimmer seems great for that method with its large shavings window. I would just take a sheet of heavy paper or cardboard and press it over the shank first to catch shavings.
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munk View Post
Everyone talks about using a drill press for this... why not a table-top router?

I like the idea of just leaving the trimmer spinning, and pressing the cases down into it; i'd just have to get used to the idea of indexing off the shoulder for trimming instead of cutting the whole case to length.

This trimmer seems great for that method with its large shavings window. I would just take a sheet of heavy paper or cardboard and press it over the shank first to catch shavings.
Dude…. YOU are a genius... because I have a variable speed table top router and didn’t even think of that.

Thanks for the idea
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  #29  
Old 07-25-2012, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by adrenalinejunkie View Post
Awesome yeah I think you'll definitely be happy with that setup. Not sure about neck-sized cases though. If you send Jim a message i'm sure he'll answer your question. I just loaded up 120 rounds today with some cases I trimmed with the CTS, and there was no bullet-shearing whatsoever, and the outer rim of the mouth is smooth with no burr. I think you'll be good in that department.
I initially F/L size. Trim to .0020 short. Then load & shoot. Then neck-size the next few times of reloading. After I've shot the necksized ones twice I necksize & measure to make sure the cases are still going to chamber. At last count for my M1917, I have 4 reloads of necksized cases w/o retrimming. YMMV
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Old 08-13-2012, 11:09 AM
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Great review - I know what to do now. Thanks :-)
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Old 08-13-2012, 2:41 PM
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I just used my CTS trimmer yesterday for the first time. Trimmed 500 cases. The 500th trim was just as smooth at the first. I haven't used any other brand so I can't compare, but this one will probably be the only one I use.
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Old 08-13-2012, 4:49 PM
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Great review - I know what to do now. Thanks :-)
No problem! Glad I could help out

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Originally Posted by TwinStick View Post
I just used my CTS trimmer yesterday for the first time. Trimmed 500 cases. The 500th trim was just as smooth at the first. I haven't used any other brand so I can't compare, but this one will probably be the only one I use.
Just a testament to the manufacturing of these trimmers. I've used a few others and this is the one i'm settled on. I don't have to try out any others.
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Old 08-13-2012, 7:16 PM
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Originally Posted by TwinStick View Post
I just used my CTS trimmer yesterday for the first time. Trimmed 500 cases. The 500th trim was just as smooth at the first. I haven't used any other brand so I can't compare, but this one will probably be the only one I use.
What are you trimming with? Drill, Drill Press, something else?

I think I need to get myself a new drill or something of better quality. I got too much wobble in my chuck.
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Old 08-18-2012, 7:04 PM
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Wow, great review!
that is my next buy.
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Old 08-18-2012, 8:06 PM
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Wow, great review!
that is my next buy.
Thanks! I trimmed a couple hundred cases today with the same results and no need for adjustment from the last time. You won't be disappointed.
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Old 08-18-2012, 9:25 PM
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I want to know how the heck they can make one for .30 carbine....there's no shoulder to measure from?
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Old 08-19-2012, 9:36 AM
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I want to know how the heck they can make one for .30 carbine....there's no shoulder to measure from?
I'm not sure haha the only thing I could think to measure off of would be the ejector rim or something. I'm sure if you sent Jim a message he'd be happy to tell you
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Old 08-19-2012, 9:51 AM
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Too bad it doesn't chamfer and deburr also
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Old 08-19-2012, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by 707electrician View Post
Too bad it doesn't chamfer and deburr also
You don't need to with this trimmer the inside and outside of the case mouth are smooth after the cut. I've loaded up and shot about 200 rounds from CTS trimmed cases so far with no problems
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Old 08-19-2012, 11:55 AM
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Too bad it doesn't chamfer and deburr also
I wish it did as well.

I use the CTS, and I still chamfer. I don’t deburr.

With flat base projectiles chamfer is a must. With BT projectiles you can get away without it, but if you are loading match ammo, you would be wise to chamfer. The CTS leaves a clean but sharp edge, and it’s easier to compromise the integrity of the jacket if you don’t chamfer.
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