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Big Game Rifle
Rifle Magazine
April - May 2001
Volume 36, Number 2
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 210
On the cover...
This issue is only available on CD-ROM.The new stainless steel Ruger Single-Six is chambered for the .32 H&R Magnum. Mountian lion photo by Ron Spomer. Purchase the CD-ROM here
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Table of Contents
Product Tests
What's New
Rifle Magazine
Product Tests
Lee Zip Trim

Lee Precision has been turning out reloading tools and equipment a long, long time now. At first glance, most of its designs appear amazingly uncomplicated; so simple, in fact, that it surprises some handloaders to discover just how efficient they are. Lee’s new ZipTrim is a good example.

A sturdy, gray nylon housing, only 4 inches high, 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, encloses a horizontal shaft. There’s a small black drum enclosing a spring mounted on the shaft. In addition, 36 inches of strong nylon cord are wrapped around it. There’s a small, black plastic handle jutting out of the top of the housing. Wide enough to be gripped with two fingers, it’s attached to the nylon cord.

When the cord is pulled, the shaft spins in a counterclockwise direction, and the spring is tightened. When the spring is allowed to rewind the cord, the shaft doesn’t turn at all.

The right end of the shaft (with the cord’s handle facing the viewer) is threaded to accept a shellholder. The other end of the shaft does no work; it is merely supported by the housing.

There are two mounting lugs on the housing’s base that allow the Zip Trim to be mounted permanently on a bench, if desired. There’s also a socket that accepts a C-clamp’s arm for a temporary installation. Moreover, since the housing’s only 2 inches wide, it can also be gripped by the jaws of a vise if a workbench is already crowded.

To set the tool up for a specific caliber, a separate shellholder, a case length gauge plus a cutter with ball grip will have to be ordered.

Cases must be deprimed before they can be trimmed. That’s because the hull’s length is measured from the point of the gauge’s decapping pin to the edges of the cutter’s blades.

Operating the Zip Trim is simplicity itself: First, slip the head of a deprimed case into the shellholder. Make sure the head of the case is shoved into the shellholder as far as it will go - and stays there as the holder is tightened.

Next, with one or two fingers steadying the black, plastic drum (and shaft), screw the shellholder clockwise until it gets a good, nonslip grip on the case head.

Slide the case length gauge into the case until the cutter’s blades rest against the case mouth. While pressing the cutter’s blades against the case mouth, pull the black, plastic handle rapidly and steadily out of the housing. Pull it until a foot to a foot and a half of nylon cord is visible, then let the cord slide back until the handle rests against the housing again. Repeat that process over and over again, while maintaining a gentle but steady pressure between cutter and case mouth.

It will probably take a bit of practice to determine the exact amount of pressure needed between cutter and case mouth. Too much and spinning the Lee Zip Trim shaft will demand more muscle; too little and the cutter will be wearing brass away from the case instead of shaving it. If my experience is any guide, it won’t take long to get a feel for a proper hold. After two or three bad starts, I found myself feeding and trimming cases at a remarkable rate. Not only was it fast, but it was almost effortless too. Cutter pressure was applied by body weight. Once the proper level was determined, pulling the string and spinning the shaft took very little effort.

After a case is trimmed, it’s a good idea to leave it locked in the shellholder and spin it again once or twice to chamfer the case mouth. All it takes is a pull or two on that black handle and presto! The hull is ready to be primed and loaded.

Cases can also be polished in the same manner. Just lock one in the shellholder and spin it a few times while working it over with steel wool or a scouring pad. It only takes a few seconds to make most cases look factory-fresh.

A couple of boxes of fired ‘06 brass were trimmed with the Zip Trim. All lengths were gauged first. Although they varied slightly, all exceeded the maximum allowable length of 2.494 inches. To trim them, I was forced to pull the cord out about 18 inches at least four, and as many as seven, times per case before the excess brass was trimmed away. After trimming, the lengths of half a dozen cases were checked with electronic calipers. Trimmed lengths ranged from 2.4860 to 2.4865 inches.

To sum up, the Zip Trim is compact, easy to set up, simple to use, fast and efficient. In addition, it’s the least tiring, manually operated trimmer I’ve ever used.

A Zip Trim retails for $24.98. A cutter and ball grip run $4.98. A case length gauge is another $4.98 and a chamfering tool costs $2.98. That makes a total of $37.92 for one caliber. Money well spent, in my judgment. - Al Miller

Awesome Art
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