The 4 Best Case Prep Centers – RCBS, Hornady, Lyman Reviews 2021

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Photo by Janeen / CC BY

Reloading isn’t like the ancient old days, where the marvels of beating out a primer with a rock and stick, followed by a pressing one in with the same rock and stick, pouring some powder in the case, and squeezing a new bullet in with a fancy pair of pliers that constituted the state of the art. No, now we approach it from a nearly scientific perspective, with fancy tools like micrometers and digital scales, and dark wizardry.

Anyway, since we’ve moved away from the rock and stick method of reloading, it’s probably a good idea to look at case prep centers. These marvels of 1980’s technology really do make your life easier by providing an all-in-one motorized center that chamfers, trims, cleans the inside and other assorted fiddly things that any halfway decent reloading manual will tell you are Very Important. So important that somebody gave me money to sit down and pick 4 of the best case prep centers on the market. Check them out!

RCBS Trim Mate

Behold! A green box. With stuff sticking out of it. Marvelous stuff in fact. Clean and lube case necks! Trim and chamfer your cases! Ream primer pockets! Summon creatures from the third circle of torment! Ok, I made that last one up. For its price, RCBS brings you a simply marvelous case prep center that all but reloads the ammo itself.

This compact, and relatively simple case prep center is all you need to reliably do a number of formerly tedious manual tasks like cleaning, trimming, deburring and other such needful yet irritating brass preparation tasks. If you don’t have a case prep center, drop the coin and grab this one. You’ll be glad you did.

RCBS® Trim Mate Case Prep Center

Hornady Lock N Load Case Prep Trio

This is a rather nice case prep center and perhaps the most compact and straight forward one on the market. It is essentially an electric motor you screw things to. Well, that’s pretty much any case prep center, but Hornady takes it to a brilliant level of simple sophistication. Trim, chamfer, deburr, clean, lube, etc… this does it all, and again at such a reasonable price. This is among the best case prep centers period.

Lock-N-Load® Case Prep Trio from Hornady® Reloading

Lyman Case Prep Xpress

Did you ever think to yourself: “I want a case prep center that can do five different case prep operations all at once?” Have you yearned for the day when such a sophisticated product entered the market to relieve you of the tiresome drudgery of case prep? Well, wish no longer for Lyman has heard your quiet pleas.

Seriously, you can do five things at once with this bad boy. Shipping with all the common case prep tools like brushes, primer pocket reamers, chamfer cutters, etc., you are out of the box ready to go with all your case prep needs. What’s not to love?

Lyman Case Prep Xpress

Hornady Lock N Load Case Prep Center

When you open up this case prep center, a light will shine down from the heavens and a choir of angels will burst forth and sing praises to the brilliance of Hornady. Also, can you guess that I live in a state where some plants are legal? Yeah, anyway this is really the best case prep center.

It is the only one on the market that includes a built in case trimmer, along with doing all the other usual case prep functions. While a bit large, it is also a rather extensive tool that puts all your case prep and trimming work in one single, well-built, and rugged case prep center. Professional quality tools at strangely affordable rates, if you need a case prep center and don’t already have a good case trimmer, just buy this one. Full stop, no further discussion needed.

Hornady Case Prep Center

Choosing a Case Prep Center

Assuming you aren’t relying on a dark wizard to pick your reloading tools, then the usual, rational method is to assess your needs and wants and go from there. In an ideal world, we’d all be able to afford the fancy do it all Hornady (see full specs), but this isn’t an ideal world, and not all of us have that kind of coin. Now, if you are doing high volume reloading, something like the Lyman Case Xpress (see full specs) is a must have. However, not all of us need to be doing five different case prep operations at once, and personally I dislike complex systems, and so I look to something simpler.

At this point, it’s a tossup what works for your. Seriously, a case prep center at the end of the day is a sufficiently powerful electric motor in a housing with a name brand slapped on it. Any of the reputable, well known companies we’ve looked at will put out a quality product, and back it with fantastic customer service. Brand loyalty is just as valid a consideration as price point or aesthetics. Pick the one you and your wallet like best, and run with it.

The best case prep centers are nice things to have. I’ve been that person who has removed the military crimp and then cleaned the primer pockets of several hundred pieces of 5.56 brass by hand. It’s slow, unpleasant, and dull, like watching paint dry. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather shoot targets than watch paint dry. A case prep center would have saved me a lot of valuable personal time, and for that reason alone, if you reload any quantity of ammo whatsoever, you’ll find a case prep center is an invaluable investment that will soon pay for itself in time saved, and the precision of machine supported work. Good luck!

  • Owner of, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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