Product Review — CTS Engineering Gen2.0 Power Trimmer

| December 29, 2013 | 7 Comments

There are very few things in my humble opinion that is as rewarding as trying to achieve the most accurate ammo as possible assembled by your very own hands from your reloading bench. To be able to strike that steel plate 200, 300, 600 yards away or shooting those sub MOA groups at varying distances is a very rewarding accomplishment. To achieve that sort of satisfaction with reloaded rifle ammunition and bottleneck cartridges uniform trimming of your brass becomes essential. I find trimming the most time-consuming step in the process of reloading and up until now absolutely hated it. I think if you ask any reloader to name the most tedious part of rifle case prep, more often than not, the overwhelming answer will be trimming. To avoid trimming rifle brass I would often purchase additional once fired fully prepared brass to avoid the tedious process of trimming. I have used many manual trimmers and they all work as advertised but the process can be quite strenuous. There is also several cost effective power trimming options I have used that are available on the market that can be mounted in your cordless power drill or drill press. This class of trimmers work very well and are less strenuous yet it still was not as fulfilling as pulling the lever on the press and watching completed rounds fall into the bin. With so many empty 223 and 308 once fired and range pickup cases it just didn’t make since to continue with my dislike of trimming. I then began scouring the Internet for a high volume powered trimmer and I found CTS Engineering.

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The nice shiny, sturdy American built trimmer you see mounted in the corner of my newly built reloading bench is the CTS Gen2 Trimmer. The CTS Gen2 Trimmer is manufactured by CTS engineering here in the United States. These guys are long time shooters and reloaders focused on a high degree of quality in their products along with outstanding customer satisfaction. CTS Engineering also has a Gen2.5 trimmer with a primer pocket reamer, I opted for the Gen2 model considering I already had a Hornady trio for chamfering, deburring and primer pocket reaming. The Hornady trio has no mounting capability, the rubber feet are held on by #8-32 screws so I simply purchased some longer screws that would protrude through my bench and hold the Trio in place.

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IMHO the versatility of this combination is the Holy Grail of trimming.

The CTS Gen2 Trimmer arrived at my doorstep 7 days after order, it should have arrived earlier but we were experiencing our first major snow storm of the year. I was fully informed throughout the process and knew right when it would arrive as I received a tracking number when the trimmer shipped. Upon arrival inside of the nicely packed box were the instructions and all hardware needed to mount this engineering marvel to your bench. The first thing I noticed when unpacking was the quality of materials used and workmanship put into this trimmer. The CTS Gen2 Trimmer features a 1.8 Amp horsepower motor that direct drives a Solid Carbide, TiALN coated, cutter made in the U.S.A.

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This trimmer is truly built to last a lifetime. The trimmer did come with very clear instructions which indicate a break in period due to the tight tolerances, this is nothing more than letting the trimmer run for 10 minutes before attempting to trim cases, I let mine run for 30. Guys and Gals do yourself a favor and read the instructions  before getting started, though not a complicated device to install reading the instructions will guarantee and lifetime of trimming satisfaction.

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The trimmer also includes an on off switch attached to the power cord making it unnecessary to unplug for power. With my unit I chose to have the longer power cord option installed — there are different options for power cord length.

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The CTS Gen2 is capable of trimming 20cal to 338cal and comes with 2 case inserts which I ordered in 223 and 308 and one additional insert for 300BlackOut for an additional $25.
The trim length of the case on a CTS Trimmer is based on the datum of the case itself. Thus, all brass in the batch to be trimmed should be resized using the same die setting. The case holder screws into the top of the trimmer and requires very minimal but consistent pressure case to case to ensure consistent trimming. Of all the trimmers I own I found the case holders on this product to be the easiest to adjust with the lock rings. Slight adjustments by turning the case holder in or out will adjust your length and makes it very easy to fine-tune your trim to length.

Case Holders

CTS-Trimmer21 CTS-Trimmer22The blue holder without the lock ring is an adjustment case holder if you ever have to remove the top of the trimmer and the only reason for doing this is to replace the cutter. Though I am grateful for the inclusion of the alignment tool, it will be a blessing if I live long enough to trim enough brass that requires a change in the cutting blade.

223 Case Holder Being Installed

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While I was at it I decided to order a set of Headspace Gauges as well. These aluminum gauges proved to be of high quality as the rest of the CTS Engineering Product and will be of great assistance when setting up your rifle full length-sizing die. All of the rifle dies today come with instructions for setup and will typically work, but without headspace gauges you will be over working the brass and shortening the life of your brass. Utilizing the CTS gauges and instructions,

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I found I did not have as much cam over on my press as I did following the die instructions and I also had less trimming of the case to do and all cases fit into the chamber of all of my 223’s and 308 caliber rifles. Theoretically for the most accuracy you would follow this process for each rifle chamber you have and keep the cases separated.

After setup I couldn’t wait to get started trimming. Initially I trimmed and measured 60 pieces of range pickup brass that sorted and measured out like this,

55 —- 1.750
3 —- 1.753
2—- 1.749

Keep in mind the importance of the case holder trimming off the datum point of the brass, when I measured each case with the CTS Headspace gauge they all measured differently explaining the difference in trimming. I also trimmed 20 once fired 308 brass all fired from my bolt action, ensuring I utilized the headspace gauge to setup the die they all came out to a trim length of 2.004 after full length sizing.

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After the positive results with 308 brass I decided I needed a reason to head to the range to go through 60 rounds of new ammunition leaving me with 223 once fired brass from my rifle. After full length sizing the newly fired 223 brass all of them trimmed to the exact same length, 1.750.

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All cases were trimmed very square and true with very little need for chamfering and deburring.

308 Case after trimming

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308 Case after chamfering and deburring.

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For the quality of manufacturing and engineering that went into this product it is reasonably priced and capable of turning a very mundane reloading task into a quick enjoyable one. This tool has now becoming my favorite reloading tool on my bench, I size brass now just to have cases to trim. I highly recommend this trimmer to any reloader that loathe the process of trimming brass or those that require high volume trimming. I would be remiss to not mention that this trimmer is very quiet, the noise you here in the video are mostly coming from the Trio.

While CTS engineering is working on their website you can reach them by email at ctstrimmer@yahoo.com.

A special thank you to my wife for an early Christmas gift!

CTS Gen2 Powered Trimmer

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Product Review -- CTS Engineering Gen2.0 Power Trimmer, 10.0 out of 10 based on 7 ratings

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7 Comments on "Product Review — CTS Engineering Gen2.0 Power Trimmer"

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  1. Ritz says:

    You didn’t mention the price. How much was it?

    Best,

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  2. Bill Dobbins says:

    I bought 1 on eBAY & as far as I am concerned it’s junk. I have as much as .008 difference in length. I hardly ever get 2 the same length. I have to measure ever brass & put different length in different piles. I them trim the by hand. I think it’s actually slowed down my reloading. I recommend a Lee trimmer over this trimmer. I also notice eBAY stopped selling them on there also.

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  3. Bill,

    You do know this is the result of your brass being fired in different chambers right? This is not a result of a problem with the trimmer. If you checked the headspace of these cases you would find they all would be different. Also different manufacturers brass can and most likely will have a different headspace. This same thing will happen with a Lee Trimmer as well.

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  4. Robert Thomas says:

    I’m trying to understand how exactly this trimmer would produce different trim lengths. As I understand it, the trimmer uses the shoulder of the case to set the trim length? If the cases have all been full length resized in the same die, wouldn’t this “reset” the case dimensions regardless of the chamber it was fired in? Wouldn’t this resizing pretty much guarantee that the trimmer then produces uniform case lengths? Thanks, RT

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