Reloaders Guide to The Best Case Prep Centers of 2019

Picture of Hornady Case Prep Center Captioned Best case prep center

There are few things in the reloading world that are more time consuming than cleaning and prepping your rifle brass. Sizing, trimming, and cleaning rifle brass can be a daunting challenge to the new reloader.

Beginners quickly start to wonder whether all this work is worth the savings. While not quite experienced enough to understand the intricacies that it takes to make a premium bullet, you will begin to wonder why even bother. This is where a case prep center comes into play. A good case prep center will speed up your case prep and allow you to get onto reloading.

What Is The Best Case Prep Center?

1. Hornady Lock-N-Load Case Prep Center, 110 Volt


Check Price: Amazon

The Hornady Lock N Load Case Prep Center is the undisputed champion when it comes to Case Prep Centers. The Hornady Case Prep Center is leading the pack when it comes to innovation and versatility. Packed with everything you need to prepare your rifle brass for reloading. With the Hornady Case Prep Center you’ll be reloading your brass in no time.

Hornady makes the only case prep center on the market that combines both the case prep tools and a power trimmer into one unit. Combining what is normally two or more different devices into one saves valuable real estate on your reloading bench. The Hornady Case Prep Center includes a power trimmer, chamfer/deburr tools, primer pocket cleaner and five neck brushes. The primer pocket uniformer, primer pocket reamers and flash hole deburr tool can be purchased separately.

Made from a steel construction this unit is sure to last. The rugged housing and powerful motor are sure to give you years of dependable service and quality rifle brass. With one of the most powerful case prep motors in the industry you’ll crank through brass without missing a beat. Just press down on the easy grip handle to run through brass quickly and efficiently. You’re even able to adjust the trimmer down to .001″ for precise and consistent trimming throughout your batch of brass. Almost every caliber can be trimmed, from 3/4″ to 3 1/4″ you’ll be able to use the same trimmer for everything. You won’t have to worry about cleaning up all the metal shavings thanks to the easy attach removable trays. Arrange your reloading tools any way you want to increase your case prep speed. When you go through a lot of rifle brass your going to want the fastest case prep center on the market. Buy the Hornady Case Prep Center today.


2. Hornady Lock-N-Load Case Prep Trio

Check Price: Amazon

Hornady’s Lock-N-Load Case Prep trio is a great option if you don’t need a power case trimmer. The small footprint, sturdy design and affordable price point makes this case trimmer hard to beat. You’ll be going through rifle brass in no time with the Hornady Case Prep Trio.

Hornady’s case prep trio is an affordable option for the serious reloader. Speed up your case prep process with this 3 tool capacity prep center. With 3 active stations you’ll be able to chamfer, deburr and clean primer pockets without having to change any of your tools. Onboard storage allows you to store additional case prep accessories that you don’t use as often. Utilizing a durable brushed aluminum design and heavy duty motor the Hornady Case Prep Trio should last a long time. Using a Low speed high torque motor you’ll be able to clean up your rifle brass in no time. The motor is rated to give you years of dependable use and if it doesn’t Hornady has one of the best customer service departments I’ve ever dealt with. Hornady’s Case Prep Trio includes both an inside and outside chamfer and deburr tools as well as a primer pocket cleaner. By far my favorite thing about the case prep trio is its size. When I lived in an apartment I used one of the most jerry rigged setups you can imagine. A combination of plywood and vices lined my kitchen table. Without a permanent setup the case prep trio was the perfect size for working on my dining room table. If you’re cranking out brass by hand do yourself a favor and buy this affordable Hornady Case Prep Trio.



3. Lyman Case Prep Xpress (115-Volt)

Check Price: Amazon

Lyman’s Case Prep Xpress was designed for the reloader who needs lots of tools and accessories. Lyman included a place for you to mount just about everything into this case prep station. It’s downright affordable when compared to the above Hornady Case Prep Center. Lyman’s Case prep xpress is the only “all-inclusive” system(minus the power trimmer). The intuitive design makes this an excellent option for the serious reloader.

When it comes to reloading equipment you really do get what you pay for. Lyman’s Case prep xpress is a moderately priced option, but it includes almost everything you need. I would have liked to see a metal design on this unit. That being said I really can’t complain about the strength of the plastic. There’s reinforced metal on all the areas that are going to contact moving parts. With 5 case prep stations and 9 accessory slots you’ll have enough space for everything you need to clean rifle brass. Powered by a high torque gear motor this unit makes quick work of rifle brass. You can fly through brass prep stages with messy metal shavings being the only thing slowing you down. It isn’t even difficult to clean the dump pan will provide easy cleanup of all your fine metal shavings. The best part about the Lyman Case Prep Xpress is that all the accessories are included from the start. You won’t be nickle and dimed to death like you are with other reloading components.(a hobby that supposedly saves you money sure does get expensive) Eliminate blisters and bruises on your hand by buying the only all-inclusive case prep system. The Lyman Case Prep Xpress today before you waste any more time prepping your brass by hand.


4. RCBS Trim Mate Case Prep Center

Check Price: Amazon

RCBS’ Trim Mate Case Prep Center is another moderately priced option. Anybody who has ever owned an RCBS product can attest to their quality. RCBS products are made to withstand the test of time outlasting the competition. For a seemingly simple design the RCBS Trim Mate Case Prep Center is built to last.

Case preparation is five times easier and faster with the Trim Mate Case prep center. Where the RCBS Case prep center really stands out is it’s durability. This prep center just oozes in quality with it’s smooth running motor and sturdy design. Using it’s how power low torque motor you’ll be able to clean rifle brass quickly and easily. With the 5 rotating heads and 2 stationary heads you’ll be able to perform 7 case prep tasks in one movement. Powerful enough to be used with any rifle brass you won’t have to worry about damaging this unit. With 7 stations and a durable design the RCBS case prep center is a great tool for every serious reloader.


What’s the Goal of Case Preparation

The ultimate goal of case preparation is to prepare your brass to be reloaded. Case preparation is essential if you want get the best out of your rifle rounds. Well prepared rifle brass will all share the following characteristics.

  • The brass will be ready for the reloading process. This means that the brass will be cleaned, sized and properly lubricated to make the best reloads.
  • At the end of the case preparation and reloading stage the bullets will be safe and reliable to shoot. A safe and reliable bullet won’t show any negative pressure signs and will consistently chamber.
  • You will have highly accurate bullets that are optimized for consistent shot placement.

If you are able to achieve these three goals with bullet preparation you will be on the right track.

How To Use a Case Prep Center

Case preparation is a long process and varies depending on if you are reloading rifle or pistol brass. This post will primarily be focusing on rifle brass but many of the steps are the same for pistol rounds. The following list will give you the basics steps need for case preparation. Note that many of these steps aren’t always required.

Sorting Your Brass

Sorting your brass is the first step in case preparation. You can skip this step if you buy brand new unused brass, but you will eventually have to sort your brass. If you have mixed brass commonly picked up at a gun range or purchased online you will have to sort through your brass. Sort your brass into different calibers and optionally by head stamps. Sorting by head stamps is good practice if you are going to shoot competitively and want to get the most consistency out of your reloads.

You also want to sort your brass based on the quality of the brass and optionally how many times it has been reloaded. Your best bet will be to scrap any brass of questionable quality. This will include cracks, punctured primer pockets, pressure signs and a host of other problems.

De-priming and Cleaning Primer Pockets

Whether or not you decide to de-prime and clean your primer pockets will depend on what you’re using the bullets for. If you are making plinking ammo that doesn’t need to be extremely precise cleaning your primer pockets might not be necessary. The difference cleaning the primer pockets makes is up for debate but if you want the most accurate bullets you will want to deprime and clean your primer pockets.

Swaging or Reaming Primer Pockets

If you are shooting once fired military brass you will encounter military primer pocket crimps. After you deprime this brass you will have to remove the primer pocket crimps. This is where a Case Prep center comes into play. Doing this step by hand is a very labor intensive process. Believe me that after doing a few thousand rounds by hand you will want to buy a case prep center.

Cleaning Your Brass

Before you get to the later steps in the reloading process it’s important to clean your brass. Cleaning your brass is typically done using a tumbler with reloading media or an ultrasonic cleaner. This step removes the majority of the carbon buildup on your brass and most of the time will result in new brass.


Lubrication is an important difference between rifle and pistol reloading. If you have carbide pistol dies you won’t need to lubricate your brass. On the other hand you need to use a reloading lubricant for all of your rifle brass. This is especially important during the full length sizing step.

Sizing Rifle Brass

The sizing and trimming process work hand in hand. When you adjust the headspace of your brass it will also adjust the length of the brass. Once the brass has been properly sized you can measure the overall length and make a decision on whether or not you need to trim your brass.

Trimming Rifle Brass

Trimming rifle brass is a step that you shouldn’t overlook. You need to trim your brass to keep your bullets within the recommended saami specs. Not all brass needs to be trimmed so its important to measure your brass with either a manual or digital caliper before trimming. If you determine that your brass needs to be trimmed you can either use a Hornady Lock N Load Case Prep Center or a case trimmer. If you don’t properly trim your brass you may have issues chambering your bullets.

Chamfering and Deburring Case Mouth

Once you’ve trimmed your brass you will need to use a chamfering and deburring tool. You can either use a hand tool or a case prep center. These tools are used to take off the rough edges caused by trimming. Chamfering and Deburring your bullets will allow your bullets to seat better(without damage) and chamber better into your rifle.

As you can see from the above steps preparing your rifle rounds can be a long process. All of these steps can be done by hand but if you shoot frequently a case prep center is almost a necessity. There are a lot of players in the case prep game and I will try to explain what all of them have to offer. The following reviews will tell you the differences between all the major Case Prep Centers.

Unless you only want to reload ten or twenty bullets at a time a powered trimmer or case prep center is an absolute necessity. Case prepping has come a long way from the old days when you had to do all of the work by hand. Modern case prep centers allow you to chamfer, trim, size and clean any piece of rifle brass in a breeze. These motorized contraptions take the monotony out of reloading and gets you shooting faster.

What’s The Best Case Prep Center?

If you are still unsure which case prep center you should buy my pick would be the Hornady Case Prep Center. This Case prep center will do all of the steps necessary to prepare your rifle rounds for reloading. Mounting the Hornady case prep center onto your workbench will remove the need for a separate case trimmer.

If you already own a case trimmer or don’t have room for Hornady’s product on your workbench the other case prep centers mentioned above will be a great alternative.

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