opinion on le wilson trimmers

so i just started reloading (45acp) and when i was assembling my equipment i picked up an LE Wilson trimmer with a .308 die on the cheap. I looked online to see about a 45acp die and they are pretty expensive, and for "fired" brass. does this another way of saying "trim before sizing"? I will be mostly loading for 45, 223, and 308.

so my question is would it be better to get a different brand/style trimmer that is more geared toward pistol and rifle cases, or stick with the le wilson?

It's an interesting question, I've always found the LE wilson gauges to be kinda loose, so I don't know how great a trimming option this will be. I know the giraud and gracey trimmers index off the case shoulder. I have an RCBS, a forster and a gracey, the forster trimmer is a bit small, the RCBS is good sized but is still a manual trimmer. For most of my .308 match ammo I use the gracey and just keep the RCBS around for odd jobs.

Taking a second look at that LE wilson trimmer, it actually looks like it just uses the case gauge for centering the shell in the trimmer, and you set the length by the lead screw in the back, so this would probably be a somewhat fast way to trim short of getting a motorized trimmer. The only thing it looks like it's missing is a trimmer pilot. But I don't think that's necessary, if you got it on the cheap, good for you, unfortunately you're looking at buying $30 case gauges to center the brass in the trimmer. That may or may not be a selling point. You may be able to trade/ebay it for enough to get either the forster or the RCBS trimmer. For the calibers you mention the Forster would probably be the better of the two, it's something of the gold standard for manually operated trimmers.
Considering that you now HAVE the wilson trimmer with a .308 gauge, your only added expense will be for the gauges in .45acp die and .223 die. These will probably be cheaper than any other complete option.

From the Wilson site:

Wilson case trimmers are unique in that the case is held by a case holder which simulates a rifle chamber. Cases are held in case holders by their own body taper. The case holders sit in a rail system that also holds the cutter housing insuring square and perfect alignment every time.
The object to their method is to insure that the "chambered case" presents a square and true case mouth to the bore. Others rely on indexing the case to the base and pilot only, or to the shoulder for length with less attention paid to the centerline of the case.

The Wilson trimmer is fairly quick for a manual trimmer. Somewhere there is a You Tube video of one in operation. It's simple, straight forward, and once the length is adjusted it's merely a case of putting a case in the gauge, placing it on the trimmer, giving the cutter a couple of cranks, and your done.

Again, since your already there with the cutter and one gauge, if it were my decision, I'd just add the other gauges. A couple of gauges at $20-$26 will be cheaper than a new setup that may or may not give you as good results.
really good feedback guys thanks. i looked at where i could buy the gauges in person and they seem to be no closer to portland than cashmere, so ftf seems to be out. i got the trimmer at the gun show and occasionally see gauges on nwfa or ebay but ive never seen a 45acp gaugue, the le wilson website said the 45acp gauge is a new product so i dont expect to run across any. (unless anyone out there reading this wants to sell me one . . .)

Ill stick with the le wilson and bite the bullet and order the 45acp gauge, alot of the brass i have now is all over the place so i end up resetting the crimp die for each case!


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