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. Lees 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. Theres a
small black drum enclosing a spring mounted on the shaft. In addition, 36 inches of strong
nylon cord are wrapped around it. Theres a small, black plastic handle jutting out
of the top of the housing. Wide enough to be gripped with two fingers, its 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 doesnt turn at all.
The right end of the shaft (with the
cords 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
housings base that allow the Zip Trim to be mounted permanently on a bench, if
desired. Theres also a socket that accepts a C-clamps arm for a temporary
installation. Moreover, since the housings 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. Thats because the hulls length is measured from the point of
the gauges decapping pin to the edges of the cutters 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 cutters blades rest against the case mouth. While pressing the cutters
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
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 wont 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
After a case is trimmed, its 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
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
To sum up, the Zip Trim is compact,
easy to set up, simple to use, fast and efficient. In addition, its the least
tiring, manually operated trimmer Ive 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. -