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Old 02-08-2017, 05:04 PM
Boudiepitbull Boudiepitbull is offline
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Pistol cases...to trim or not to trim? Pistol cases...to trim or not to trim? Pistol cases...to trim or not to trim? Pistol cases...to trim or not to trim? Pistol cases...to trim or not to trim?  
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Default Pistol cases...to trim or not to trim?

Since I last popped up on the Reloading forum a few months ago with a question about roll crimps and taper crimps I've been slowly and systematically ordering everything I need for my loading bench. I won't put it together until after I move out of New York City, but I wanted to have everything I'd need bought and paid for (so I could run barefoot through the boxes in my apartment) so that all I have to do is build myself a sturdy workbench once I get settled. I saved a long time for this and I think I treated myself pretty well with my purchases, mostly with green stuff that I expect will outlast me and end up going to my son. Anyway...

I'm primarily setting up for 9mm, .38/.357, and .44 in moderate loads. The .38/.357 and .44 will be roll crimp revolver rounds, and the 9mm a taper. With an emphasis on safety, the Lyman book suggests always checking and trimming case length, but also suggests you can expect not to have to trim straight wall brass cases in those sizes for most of the usable life of the case.

I'd like to hear the experience from those far more experienced than I... how often, if ever, do you find yourself trimming your pistol brass in 9mm, .38/.57, and .44 sizes? If that is the scope of my work, do I really need to invest in a case trimmer? If all it means is I might have to toss a few cases after 4 reloads instead of 6, is it really worth it in everyday practice?
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Old 02-08-2017, 05:12 PM
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Generally speaking, pistol brass does not need to be trimmed.

If you're loading for accuracy and you want to trim revolver brass so you get a uniform crimp, is about the only time you might consider trimming pistol brass.

I tried it once, it didn't make any difference in my loads and was a complete waste of time.
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Old 02-08-2017, 07:12 PM
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I might trim a box of revolver brass just to get consistent roll crimps, auto pistol cases with taper crimps don't seem to benifit much.
Very seldom do you see a case that's too long to chamber.
Get a trimmer just in case you want to even up a box but don't feel like it's a must have/must do thing....in reality it's not a biggie.
Gary
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Old 02-08-2017, 07:15 PM
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The brass just needs to be equal to, or shorter than the SAAMI maximum length. Once pistol brass has been trimmed once, under max, its rare for it to grow out to max again. So, if you shoot brass that you have processed before, you probably don't need to check it. However, if you pick up other people's brass, or you have new, once-shot factory brass, you should check it.
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Old 02-08-2017, 07:36 PM
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I have never, ever trimmed a straight-wall handgun case of any type. Never had a problem with any of them and neither has the target. Trim every one if you feel like you need to.
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Old 02-08-2017, 07:44 PM
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I've been reloading multiple calibers since 1962. The next straightwall handgun cartridge I trim will be my first. Bottleneck rifle cartridges are a different story.
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Old 02-08-2017, 07:55 PM
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I trimmed some .38 Special cases once in order to make what I would consider "Match" ammo. Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference. I have some .38 Special cases from the late 80's I've reloaded I don't know how many times. I've worn the nickel plate off some. Never trimmed a one.

Waste of time and effort.
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Old 02-08-2017, 08:43 PM
Mike, SC Hunter Mike, SC Hunter is online now
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Been reloading pistol & revolver cartridges for 45 years.......Never trimmed a case.....Never plan to.........
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Old 02-08-2017, 08:51 PM
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Do as you see fit with YOUR time...for me it is a total waste of MY time with no increase in performance.

Randy
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:06 PM
Boudiepitbull Boudiepitbull is offline
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I guess that's the difference between real life experience and the book. There are probably some things a loading manual has to say even if they later suggest it isn't always so....
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:39 PM
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I load (and shoot) between 800 and 1000 9mm rounds per week during the competition season. Never trimmed a case.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:10 PM
Ballistic147 Ballistic147 is offline
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The only straight wall pistol cases I trim are the 38/357's and 44Mags. For the Mag calibers I use a pretty heavy roll crimp. Everything works fine until you hit that case that's on the upper end in length and you mess up a case. I've found that by trimming all once fired brass in these calibers you get a very consistent crimp without damaging cases. Besides, this is a hobby for me and gives me something to do in the evenings so time is not an issue. If you're loading them moderate or less with very little roll crimp it probably won't make any difference. I also load 223/5.56 so I've already got the trimmer for those.

With that in mind, I've never trimmed 380, 9mm, 40S&W, or 45ACP and have had no problems with any of those.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:30 PM
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I've been reloading for 5 years, and I trim all of my brass that is too long.

9mm, 40 cal, 45 acp cases shorten in length each firing.
So why is this a topic?

So what do you all do with cases that are too short?
Anyone ever find one? Anyone ever look?
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Old 02-08-2017, 11:38 PM
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I only trim revolver cases like 357 and 44 magnum as Ballistic147 and many others do but no pistol brass.
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Old 02-09-2017, 12:46 AM
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I have some brand new 44 mag Starline brass that is kind of hit and miss on the length and probably should be trimmed. But I'm too lazy to do it and too cheap to buy the tools. The result? Some of the roll crimps are better looking than others but they all shoot the same.
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Old 02-09-2017, 01:04 AM
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Well, based on the responses above, I took the liberty of applying the data along with several algorithms and analytical formulations to conclude that the best answer is no,use the money to buy a lot of beer or your preference. If there is any left over then load books,brass,bullets,primers & powder would be in order

I have never trimmed pistol fired straight wall brass nor do I know anyone who does. You sound like your on track to a well thought out and capable setup, go have fun and enjoy it, you can keep track of your brass lengths if you like but will probably find no need to trim. If trimming is preferred, they can be found everywhere for every price. Good luck.
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Old 02-09-2017, 02:13 AM
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Default Most people will say.....

Most people will say that they never trim pistol brass. I find that there is one good reason to trim brass ONCE before you start reloading. This is for consistency of crimp. Even then, some will say it's not worth the bother, but especially if you seat and crimp in one step it may be worthwhile. After that, further trimming is a complete waste of time.
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Old 02-09-2017, 02:23 AM
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I have never trimmed any pistol brass. I have noticed with revolver cartridges (roll crimp) that different brands / headstamps of brass will have variations in length that can affect the consistency of your crimps. An argument could be made that if you trim all your revolver brass to the same length once, then you won't have to mess with adjusting your crimp die. I just keep my headstamps sorted into like batches and adjust the crimp die for each batch (it only takes a few seconds).

Mike
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Old 02-09-2017, 12:56 PM
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Only 2 rounds I trim is 41 and 44 mag. I used a file trim die before the first loading and have never had to do them again..except for the kinda rare case that just grows for some odd reason. Those usually only last one or two loadings after the 2nd trim..They usually seem to get a crack in the end.. Pistol brass I never trim
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Old 02-09-2017, 01:12 PM
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I've been reloading since Johnson was president (Lyndon, not Andrew) and have never found a need to trim a straight case.
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Old 02-09-2017, 01:30 PM
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I have 3 38 autos. I check the length for them only but do not trim. The autos get taper crimped. If a little long they go in the revolver pile. Some people with 52s trim the brass for better feeding. If you trim brass it needs to be trimmed AFTER it is resized for best results. The case mouth cracks are easier to detect. There are lots of answers at the bottom of this page.

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Old 02-09-2017, 02:00 PM
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Ditto to all the above - never have trimed straight walled pistol cases.

Routinely trim rifle and will even neck turn a rifle case. You may find you will wear out a pistol case before you need to trim for length.
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Old 02-09-2017, 06:37 PM
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Never have trimmed a 9mm or 38 case's but I always trim for .223's if needed.
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Old 02-09-2017, 07:15 PM
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I've reloaded pistols since about 1975, never trimmed a pistol hull. Of course you have to trimmed bottle neck rifle hulls.

Have a blessed day,

Leon
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Old 02-13-2017, 08:03 AM
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In 49 years of handloading I don't ever remember trimming any pistol brass.
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Old 02-16-2017, 03:48 AM
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Been reloading Pistol & Revolver cartridges for 35 years and have never ever trimmed a case! Heck, I do not even own a trimmer! I will state though that for the most part, I do not load my cartridges hot - as I use them only for making holes in paper. I usually load to the minimum of what they specify in the reloading manuals and so the Brass never seems to stretch. In reality it probably does just slight amount but it has NEVER been an issue and the vast majority of my cases have been reloaded at least 5 - 7 times.

I also reload .357 Magnum cartridges but only shoot them on occasion so they are not reloaded very many times, therefore I have never had any problems.

Higher pressure rifle cartridges (such as 5.56 / .223) are where cases stretch to the point of where they must be trimmed.
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:46 AM
TANKLEGACY TANKLEGACY is offline
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I would comment...but the ol' timers that were loading before I was born already answered the question...lol
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Old 02-16-2017, 11:15 AM
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If you shoot handgun silhouette, you damn well better trim.
.357 and .44 mag brass must be trimmed to get equal crimp
on the bullet or they won't be very accurate at 200 meters.
Shot silhouette for 22 years and had much fun.
Denny
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Old 02-16-2017, 12:17 PM
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If you are shooting precision matches, the "consistent" crimp will result in better scores over the long run. If you are shooting action, IPSC or IDPA, don't bother. Some years ago, I did some testing. Selecting matched head-stamp/lot brass, and trimmed to exactly the same length, I prepared a box each of exactly the same load, OAL, primer, powder, etc, all loaded at the same time. Several groups of each were shot "From a Ransom Rest". The random brass, not trimmed, at 50 ft. shot a little less than a 1 inch group. The trimmed loads shot a 3/8" group. So "if" you feel the need for much tighter groups trim. If you are satisfied just under an inch at 50 ft. (probably around1 1/2" to 2" at 25 yards). Don't worry about it. If you desire to have the best possible accuracy, Trim.
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Old 02-16-2017, 12:29 PM
Boudiepitbull Boudiepitbull is offline
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Interestingly enough, while most here said they almost never need to trim straight wall brass, on another thread about someone having a problem with .44 Mag crushed cases the response seemed to be overwhelmingly to trim, trim, and then to trim. So...there you have it! There's what you're supposed to do, what you might have to do, and what everyone usually goes ahead and does anyway.

I went ahead and bought a Lee trimmer and trimming dies for the case sizes I intend to load. Maybe I'll need them, maybe I won't, but if I do need them I will have them on hand. I bought press mounted accessories so I'm not giving up any bench space to another tool that I have to mount or clamp down. I also outfitted with a bullet puller and collets so I wouldn't be hammering on the floor. I guess I just want my press to be my basic tool platform and swap out accessories for different operations...except for priming...I ordered myself a RCBS bench primer on sale because I thought it was a really cool tool
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Old 02-16-2017, 03:54 PM
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Like most others who have posted, I don't trim my pistol brass.

When I get new-to-me brass (new brass or once-fired), I set my calipers to the SAAMI maximum length and make sure none of the cases are too long. Any that are get tossed because I figure something isn't right since straight-wall pistol brass doesn't lengthen near as fast as bottleneck brass. Except for .38 Special, most of my brass gets lost in the weeds before I would need to worry about it getting too long or becoming overworked.
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Old 02-17-2017, 11:43 AM
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For the .357 & .44 Magnum, I have some mixed headstamps for light to moderate plinking loads, which I do not trim. The difference in crimps isn't noticeable. However, brand new Starline brass is kept separate and gets trimmed for full power magnum loads.

Recently started loading for the S&W .500 Magnum and all I have is brand new Starline brass, which I trimmed before use.
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:08 PM
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I found that I had to trim 5S&W cases about every 4th loading. Not much BUT the 500 is a very high intensity round and I didn't want any problems. All loads for it were top end loadings. It was a good shooter though much too heavy to carry around..so I sold it and carried a Mossy shotgun instead..much easier to shoot also. I also have around 250 Fed slugs for b'ar country too. As stated though..I really only trim top end mag loads for uniformity.
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