As a person whom has introduced scores of individuals to shooting, the author’s favourite handgun is his workhorse Ruger Mk II. Crude, reliable and other than the incredibly annoying disassembly lever, this handgun has delivered over 100kg (220lbs) of lead downrange by this author’s hands alone. With over 45,000 rounds through it, it has been cleaned, repaired, rebuilt a few times but is a great tool in an instructors arsenal to bring the shooting experience to those whom otherwise have never shot a firearm. There are many different models and makes of handguns that are just as reliable and long lived as the aforementioned Ruger, it just happens to be the firearm most used by the author for introducing shooting virgins to our passion.
Now over the decades, hundreds of people have shot this handgun whose ages range from attendees of junior high-school, to great grand parents of those kids. In general they are able to manipulate the firearm very well with proper coaching and instruction, however in some cases, they are physically unable or have difficulty performing certain operations on the handgun. The number one issue? Racking the slide back to chamber/clear a round into/from the chamber. Now some of you are doing a double take and thinking how can you not be able to rack a .22 rimfire pistol! The author has seen dozens of people lack the finger/grip strength to pull the recessed bolt tabs and do just that. It usually occurs with younger children and those of very slight build, usually female, but not always.
This past SHOT Show, the author came across a company called Tandemkross. Founded in 2012 by a pair of software developers. Yes. Software developers. Bryan Haaker and co-worker Jake Wyman went out to try Wyman’s brand new Ruger Mk III 22/45 to unwind from their software programming work. Functional issues and subsequent difficulties in acquiring performance part upgrades for this handgun ensued. The resultant firearm performance improvements once these upgrades were installed started the duo on the path of manufacturing these upgrades and making them far more common, affordable and available. Tandemkross manufactures accessories and markets other aftermarket products that span nearly all areas of a rimfire pistols. This includes but is not limited to the following:
- Charging Handles
- Magazine Bumpers
- Magazine Releases
Coming back around to the occasional inability of some to pull the charging handle back, TPF-Online was able to aquire one of Tandemkross’ “Halo” charging rings, specifically for the Ruger Mk II. These handles are currently available for the various Ruger MK II’s, Mk III’s, and Mk IV’s; as well as the S&W SW22 Victory and the Browning Buckmark. The “Halo” is quite simply a ring machined from aluminum which clamps onto the specific serrations that are used for chambering/clearing rounds. The contoured inner fingers are machined for the specific model of firearm. In the case of the Ruger Mk II, the fingers have a dished internal seat that corresponds perfectly with the bolt’s racking tabs. The Halo ring is secured into place with a recessed #5-40 socket head cap screw that draws the fingers of the Halo together through tension and creates a solid lockup with the Mk II’s bolt ears. On the inside flap of the product package for the Halo, Tandemkross states the following:
This product is protected by the TANDEMKROSS lifetime guarantee. If the product at any time does not perform as advertised, TANDEMKROSS will provide a replacement part of equal or greater value.
The header card style of package contains the CNC machined Halo pull ring, a #5-40 x 3/4″ socket head cap screw and a 3/32″ allen wrench.
A small addition of Loctite to the screw threads is recommended for this model, and a warning to only torque the screw via the short end of the allen key. This makes it easier to not over tighten the tension screw. The material is only aluminum and a #5 thread is not what TPF-Online would call a robust bolt for reefing upon. If you can, try and keep the torque less than 0.6 Nm (5.3 lbf-in).
The Halo unit is meant as an aid for racking a handgun, and in the case of this review, the bolt of the Ruger Mark II. It is not a leverage multiplier, nor does it claim to reduce the required force to actuate the bolt/slide. It does allow for an enhanced ability to grip the bolt, even with gloves and in less than ideal conditions. However, the perceived decrease in required effort has more to do with the ability to use greater grip on the bolt to apply force through. Instead of using one’s fingertips to grip the raised bolt wings of the Mark II, being able to hook an entire finger through the Halo, means a much larger area to directly pull against. The perceived effect is that of an easier ability to charge the handgun.
The gloss black anodized aluminum Halo, adds a definite increase in length to any attached firearm. The visual appearance of the attached unit is very sleek and, in the author’s opinion, compliments the profile and look of the handgun. Obviously the Halo shown in this review’s images has next to no wear marks and as of this review has only a couple boxes of ammunition through it. The author promises to increase that to several bricks worth over the 2017 year.
The addition of the Halo to the author’s handgun was a very simple endeavour. The added mass was negligible and did not affect bolt performance, nor cycle times to any level that could be detected through usage. As the focus is through the sights of the firearm, the reciprocating Halo ring did not distract from the user’s sight picture. What was very apparent was that during the brief evaluation, the ring allowed the author to perform jam clearing at a much faster speed than with the “Halo-Free” configuration.
The Tandemkross Halo is available for a selection of popular .22LR handguns, but the reviewed component was specifically for the Ruger Mk II. The model number is TK01N0167BLK1 and has an MSRP of $44.99 USD. Brick and mortar stores such as Select Shooting Supplies, in Cambridge, ON, stock Tandemkross products and can order them if you require a specific model. The Halo is a light weight accessory that is designed to improve the ease of manipulating one’s .22LR handgun, but which category does it fall into for you? Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical? Leave a comment and let us know!
One of the most abused parts of a knife is the point or tip of the knife. Users jab it into seams and use the blade as a makeshift wedge or pry-bar in order to crack open or split whatever they are working on at the time. The problem is that the tip of the knife is the weakest part.
The prying puts large tangential stress into a small focused area on what is traditionally the thinner parts of a knife. Now, several knives try and offset this by making a blunt tip which increases the area used for prying that distributes the fores better. Others increase the blade thickness to have a stronger tip that can suffer greater levels of stress before breaking. Columbia River Knife and Tool had a slightly different take which makes a bit more sense to the author. Enter the Barge.
Kershaw’s Barge is a very simple and rugged designed knife that has basically two purposes. Cutting stuff and being used as a wedge/prying tool. The knife is not really that small, amassing just over 150g (5.4oz) and measuring 119mm (4.75″) in length when closed. The first thing you notice looking at the knife however, is the huge metal cap on the knife’s butt end. That is the key of the Barge, the wedge shaped butt cap, and it is massive and mounted very securely between the liners. The wedge acts as the spacer between the two liner halves of the knife. It is secured by five (5) screws along the back and rear edges of the handles, these are not small screws either, they are massive compared to those typically used on folding knives. Of interesting note of this design is the fact that the majority of the screws/nuts use a T8 torx driver for assembly/disassembly, with two exceptions. The reversible pocket clip allows for both left and right handed, tip-up carry, and is secured by a pair of T6 torx pan head screws. The second exception is the most obvious and greatest departure from the other fasteners used, as the large pair of slotted screws provide the main strength that binds the handle to the wedge. The wedge also has a lanyard opening for those who desire to use them.
From the Kershaw Website:
- Multifunction – Has multiple blades or tools, enabling it to perform multiple functions.
- Manual – There is no mechanical assist, such as SpeedSafe, used to open the folding knife. It opens the classic, old-school way.
- Frame Lock – A portion of the handle (the knife frame) moves behind the blade to lock it into position during use. This is a safety feature of the knife.
- Reversible – Pre-drilled holes in the handle enable the user to change either the tip position or the side on which the knife carries.
As is typical in many frame lock knives that are manual in opening, there is a small bearing that is press fit into the locking arm and a corresponding dimple/hole in the blade that enable securing the blade into a closed position. This does equate to a very slight increase of required pressure when opening these knives, but it is almost negligible when using the thumbstuds to open the 6.6cm (2.6″) edge. Now speaking about edges, the Barge’s plain blade has a slight hollow gound edge whose profile is a combination of a warncliffe edge with the spine of a typical drop point and incorporates a slight upward curve close to the tip. Manufactured from 8Cr13MoV, the blade is easily sharpened, and the blade itself, the frame halves, and the wedge have been given a stonewash finish which gives a soft, metallic appearance.
The overall length of the wedge insert is 66mm (2.6″) and is scalloped to allow for the knife’s blade to easily fold up while creating a very robust assembly. The steel right frame panel is 2.4mm (0.095″) thick and incorporates the frame lock mechanism, whereas the the left panel is slightly thinner at 2.0mm (0.08″). However a black textured nylon panel completes the left side for added grip. The blade is 3.1mm (1/8″) thick and uses nylon washers for stiffness and rigidity at the pivot point. The Barge measures 12.1cm (4.74″) long when closed and 18.4cm (7.24″) when locked open which belies the 146.8grams (5.18oz) that this hefty tool masses. The wedge of course is a large contributing factor in those numbers, and with a 1.7mm (0.67″) thick flat edge that is 10.0mm (0.40″) long, the “screwdriver” tip of the Barge is ready for some of the worse pry jobs most people can imagine.
The Kershaw Barge, model 1945, is a very utility oriented knife that could be a good addition to an individual’s every day carry inventory. With a noticeable mass and good control surfaces, this offering may seem cheap at the MSRP of $48.99 CDN, and can be found in stores such as House of Knives. As always however, the question is what category the Barge falls into for you, the reader? Tactial? Practical? Or Fantastical?
OK… The Canadian Shooting Sports Association actually moved it’s main office from Etobicoke to Oshawa on December 1st, 2017. Some may be asking why the office changed locations, and the reality is summed up by one simple answer. Cost of Operations.
Cost of operations is a no brainer. It costs significantly less to rent space and pay for utilities than in the previous location. We are not talking a couple percent, TPF was told it is in the order of 10% cheaper. The move into the new “digs” actually has the office presenting internally a much more professional atmosphere and can accommodate future growth of staff. The hardest part about the new office location? Finding the entrance…
The new office location is Unit 204 – 1143 Wentworth Street W., Oshawa, Ontario, L1J 8P7, Canada
While the actual address is on Wentworth Street West, the closest entrance to the second floor office is on the Boundary Road side of the building.
The toll free number has remained the same @ 1-888-873-4339, but the local office number has changed to 1-905-720-3142, and the FAX number has become 1-905-720-3497.
The author can almost hear you going “Huh? Why are you even mentioning this months after it moved?” To which we are glad you asked. On Saturday, February 4th, 2017 was the date when the CSSA’s Open House actually occurred to commemorate the change. The open house lasted from noon until 4:00pm in the afternoon and while not quite at the levels of the 2017 SHOT Show Reception, still garnered an estimated 90-100 individuals whom came by to wish the organization well and socialize with several CSSA personnel. Such as:
CSSA President, Mr. Steve Torino
CSSA Executive Director – Mr. Tony Bernardo
CSSA Legal Council – Mr. Edward Burlew
CSSA Office Staff, as well as several Board Members and Regional Directors
Also in attendance were a few notable locals from the region and nearby:
Oshawa’s Member of Parliament, Mr. Colin Carrie
Stoeger Canada‘s General Manager, Mr. Spyros Chrysochou
Firearms Outlet Canada, Mr. Fred Pellegrino
S&J Hardware, Simon Beeson
Spatha Tactical, Andrew Clarke
The Gun Blog, Nicholas Johnson
Plus a multitude of others I have missed. Which when you consider that the attendance at its peak was around 50-60 people in the office at one time is understandable. The gathering was chaotic, warm, and loads of fun! The event was amazingly well attended overall and was a very positive reinforcement that the CSSA has the support of many in the firearms community as well as the firearms industry. Kudos to the Canadian Shooting Sports Association for their past and current efforts and may there be success and even more positive initiatives that firearms owners can look forwards to in the future.
If you were at the open house and TPF missed listing you or you know someone who was missed, please feel free to send us an email on the contact page and we will add you and your website link.
P.S: I have heard that the CSSA’s AGM will be held on the weekend of April 22nd in Saskatoon, Regina. Hopefully we will see you there!
SHOT Show 2017, Day 2 Evening: Wednesday, January 18th
One of the highlights of SHOT Show for TPF-Online is the event hosted by the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) and the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA). Now for those of you who do not know of either organization, TPF will sum it up very simply.
The CSSA is the Canadian equivalent of the National Rifle Association (NRA) of the United States. Fighting for legal firearms ownership and usage for responsible Canadians. Represents the firearms owners of Canada.
The CSAAA is the Canadian equivalent of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) of the United States. Fighting for legal production, distribution, and retail of firearms to the Canadian firearms community. Represents the firearms industry of Canada.
As always, the definitions are subjective as some may not agree with the workings and machinations of either, just like their US counterparts. TPF has been present in some sort of gathering for nearly every SHOT Show for the past eleven years of attending, and it wasn’t until a short few years ago that this event really began to flourish.
Emails were sent out roughly in late August/ early September of 2016 which included an invitation that stated:
The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) and the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA) are pleased to present the fourth annual Canadian Industry Reception at the 2017 SHOT Show from 6-10 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at Treasure Island Las Vegas.
As a member of the Canadian shooting sports industry, you are invited to participate in this special networking event by sponsoring, attending and inviting your industry guests. The event is designed to showcase the Canadian industry and to provide a social networking opportunity to our industry members.
The origins of this event have evolved from a small social gathering of individuals at timeshares and restaurants into it’s current iteration.
This event has become a great success from when it unofficially started five years ago when the CSSA’s informal Meet & Greet became a sponsored event with a $300 USD budget thanks to a couple select individuals. This gathering, which was to be last of the CSSA’s official Meet & Greets, had an end result of four Texas Mickeys, several cases of pop and water, plus eight extra large pizzas and just shy of twenty (20) representatives of the Canadian firearms industry in a single hotel room for an entire evening. From its humble origins back then in 2013, that marked the first formally organized event specifically for a Canadian attendees of the SHOT Show; this event continues to grow and flourish. This was proven with the 200+ attendees whom signed in at the event entrance, with all but a handful of those hailing from Canada. From a score of individuals to over ten times that in a few years, this event really has become a focal point of Canadian attendees at SHOT Show to interact with their Canadian business partners, associates, colleagues and friends that would otherwise only ever talk via the phone, email, and video-conferences. It becomes an event that these people could network, gain contacts, and just socialize and unwind from the stressful schedule of SHOT.
As the event has grown, so has the requirement for sponsors of the event. It is with many thanks that TPF lists the following sponsors and links to their respective sites, so please feel free to click the links, buy their products or products offered by them and help our industry become even better…
Platinum Level Sponsorship:
- Canadian Shooting Sports Association
- Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association
- Calgary Shooting Centre
- Korth Group
- North Sylva
Gold Level Sponsorship:
Silver Level Sponsorship:
Bronze Level Sponsorship:
Many thanks must be given to ALL attendees of the CSSA/CSAAA event with many new faces, it was a very good and positive event, and you can bet that there will be another for next year! If you have any questions or comments regarding the event and/or attending please email Mike Duynhoven of the CSSA, he wants feedback and to add Canadian Industry for next year’s event. If you do decide to purchase products from or through one of the event supporters, please reference TPF-Online if you care to help us out. Make sure that all of you enjoy the rest of 2017 and until the next installment, stay safe and have fun!
Some images of the 4th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception:
Once again many thanks to the Canadian Shooting Sports Association and the Canadian Small Arms and Ammunition Association for hosting this event! To give readers and idea of who was there, TPF was able to compile a partial list of Canadian industry registered attendees: (In no particular order, and definitely not complete)…
Air Gun Source, Calgary Shooting Centre, Calibre Magazine, Canada Ammo, CTC Supplies, Grand Power Canada, Gravel Agency, Gryphon Energetics, Korth Group, North Sylva, O’Dell Engineering, Practical Performance Products, Select Shooting Supplies, Shooter’s Choice, Tactical Capital Corp., Tactical Ordinance, Tiger Vac, Trade Ex Canada, Wholesale Sports, Wolverine Supplies, X-Metal Targets, X-Reload, The Gun Blog, Metak Distributing, WCDIA, Nordic Marksmen, S&J Hardware, CGN, McColl Sporting Goods, Aztech Armory, Colt Canada, Sebarms, Canadian Tire, Westside Stores 2012, Premier Shooting Center, Ontario Out of Doors Magazine, Prarie Nation Outdoors, European Arms Distributor, Eastern Outdoor Sales, Surplus Militaire Pont-Rouge, Prefiar, Amplis, Londero Sports, Drummond Shooting, The Evans Group, Al’s Corner Store, Pearl Street Media, Trigger Wholesale, Genesis Enterprise, Compass Safaris Marketing, Outdoor Group Media, CDN Gunworx, Blue Mountain Gunsmithing, Think Insure, Freedom Ventures, Transgressive Media, Outdoor Writers of Canada, Brigadeer Security, Lever Arms, Cadex Defence, True North Arms, National Firearms Association, Excalibur Crossbow, Bowman GunPar, Tetregon Dist., AJ Hobbs Ent., Wild West Shooting Centre, Kolder Canada, E&I Sports, Blackthorn Media, Savminter, Grech Outdoors, Kodiak Defence, HiCaliber Services, Scorpion Outdoors, Nanuk Plasticase, Buck Expert, PGW, Wanstalls
Warning: This is a LONG entry, with numerous images.
The week of January 16th once again saw the Sands Convention Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada; host the the 39th annual Sporting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show; also known as the SHOT Show. For those who do not know what SHOT Show is or what it consists of, TPF will give you a quote direct from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) whom organizes the event.
The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show opened its doors this morning at the Sands Expo Center with industry expectations running high in response to the energized market in America for firearms, ammunition and accessories.
Over the next four days, the show will attract nearly 65,000 industry professionals from the firearms and outdoor industry, including 2,500 members of the outdoor press-the largest gathering of outdoor media in the world-and showcase new, innovative products used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor recreation and law enforcement purposes.
Owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, the SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world. The show is open to trade members only and not to the public; consumers will see the products unveiled at the SHOT Show on retailers’ shelves during the course of the year.
You read that correctly, not open to members of the public. We at TPF can already hear our readers rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, “But we are the consumers!” Which is true, except that the consumers that are mentioned the service companies and persons who are directly related to the industry. Not the end user, otherwise known as the public, but those whom supply the products to the end users such as retailers, trainers, ranges, organizations, etc… That being said, there are ways that the public can attend, and do attend as is evident to many who have attended SHOT know. TPF-Online will not go into details or methods for the public to get into SHOT Show. We apologize, and suggest that you utilize your favourite search engine or firearms forum (for Canadians, we recommend Gun Owners of Canada or Canadian Gun Nutz).
So let us delve into the timeline of SHOT Show.
“The cure to what?”, may be the first question popping into the thoughts of TPF’s readers. In this case, it is the cure to the single most complained about, biggest headache for anyone who reloads rifle cartridges. Besides the tedious task of collecting range brass and cleaning it through various means, there are many steps to preparing a spent rifle case before ever assembling a new cartridge for use.
The Steps for reloading rifle cartridges:
- Collect spent cases: Go pick up your brass and if you are lucky, everyone elses!
- De-prime cases: Can be done after step #3 depending on cleaning methods and press types
- Clean cases: Degree of cleanliness is dependant on the reloader themselves. Wipe off, dry or wet tumble, ultrasonic cleaning?
- Size cases: Full or neck only sizing is another factor dependant on the reloader’s desires.
- Trimming brass: Cutting to length and possibly chamfering inside and outside of the case neck.
- Re-prime case: By hand or by press
- Powder charge: Check the type of powder, as well as the levels in the hopper/scoop. Also do not under or over charge the case!
- Bullet seating: Make sure your OAL allows proper feeding!
- Bullet crimping: If necessary and do not over crimp!
So the biggest headache? Step 5. Trimming…
Trimming is the simple procedure in cases preparation that involves the shaving of brass down to specifications for most calibres as set out by Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, aka SAAMI. IF you perform step number 5, there are a huge number of methods available for an equally broad range of retail pricing. However the product on today’s TPF plate for reviewing is the Trim-It II.
Direct from the website the features of the Trim-It II are listed as:
- Built-in micrometer adjustment for cut-length control
- Interchangeable die system, allowing you to trim a wide range of cases with one unit
- Adjustable cutting tool with 3-sided carbide blade that allows for a 15 degree inside case mouth chamfer and 45 degree outside chamfer
- Machined from 6061-T6 Aluminum. This baby is built to last.
- 100% Forever (plus 90 days) Guarantee.
- Made entirely in the good ole’ US of A!
The Trim-It II that TPF obtained came is a small, compact cardboard package which contained everything needed to start trimming. OK. Almost everything… Like most reloading apparatuses, the basic unit does not come with the calibre specific components such as sizing dies and the like. This product is no different, and offers calibre specific bearing dies for many of the most common hunting calibres, pistol calibres, and some of the more popular long range benchrest calibres that are used.
The original Trim-It had a micrometer adjustable depth ability and a four bladed flush cutting head that did just that, trimmed cases to the user’s set length. The secret to both the Trim-It and the Trim-It II? The calibre bearing die. For this review, TPF-Online decided to use the ever popular .308 Winchester round for trimming. Having many, many hundreds on hand to be converted from fired brass condition into usable ammunition was just a stroke of luck as we would never just go out and discharge .308 Win by the scores just for reviewing a trimmer… OK, maybe we would… Alright… We did… And it was worth it! So lets start by explaining the components that you receive in the package when a Trim-It II is purchased… Plus the .308 Win Calibre Die.
- Instructions, 2 pages double sided
- Allen keys, 4 of varying sizes (0.050″, 1/16″, 3/32″, and 9/64″)
- The cap/barrel assembly
- 3-way cutter
- Calibre die, .308 WIN (sold separately)
These are likely the cheapest component of the entire set. Now these two pages seem to be simple double sided photocopies that are folded into 1/8 the original size to fit into the box. One page contains the product warranty details and a fillable sheet for returning defective/broken products. The other sheet is the one that is most important to everyone that is reading… A parts list and instructions on how to assemble, tune, and utilize the Trim-It II. The instructions for this are only on a single unfolded side and also contain the instructions for refitting the original Trim-It with the new 3-way cutting head. Opposite the instructions is a parts list diagram of both the Trim-It and Trim-It II.
The L-shaped hex drivers for adjustments and locking in components with set-screws. You knew this already however, so not going to say any more on these parts…
So the cap serves two purposes, both of which are important for the functionality of the Trim-It II. First is the mount for the 3-Way Cutter that is secured along the cap’s centreline with a set screw. This forces the cap to rotate with the cutter when under power. The second purpose is to act as the threaded mount for the barrel part of the assembly. The barrel houses the Calibre Die, and because it is threaded into the cap, allows for fine distance adjustment for cutting brass to the proper overall length. The barrel has numerous openings which allow adjustment to the cutting head as well as a path through which trimmed shavings can be removed. The barrel has an external o-ring groove which holds the clear polycarbonate sleeve in place to prevent shavings from flying everywhere when in use. A set screw locks the barrel depth into place as well as locking the calibre die into its groove.
The three way cutter is a miniature version of a milling machine’s adjustable boring bar. The cutter insert itself is a simple triangular insert whose corners have been cut to a V shape to trim both inner and outer chamfers and thereby also the length of any brass casing. TPF-Online did not remove the insert, but the V shape is on all three corners of the insert meaning that if you even wear down one of the cutting profiles, you can rotate and have a new cutting profile to be used. Twice… Since these are only trimming brass versus the insert’s carbide, it is likely to last for generations of shooters. The mounting head of the cutter is adjustable itself, with the insert able to be shifted towards or away from the centerline of the cap/barrel. This allows for different diameter necks to be trimmed, but unless you have several of the cutters pre-set, re-adjusting the cutter for each new calibre introduced is required.
These are sealed bearings that are modified by machining a custom inner ring to accurately position brass for trimming. These are precision tolerance bearings which are aligned by the barrel groove machined to exacting tolerances. with the outer ring of the die secured with a set screw in the barrel, the inner ring is free to rotate independently of the cap/barrel/cutter assembly.
How it works… Aka steps for using the Trim-It II:
- Install the 3-way cutter into the cap/barrel assembly so that it is as close as possible to the cap and secure with set screw against the flats in the shaft of the cutter.
- Tighten barrel into cap until it stops (“Zero”) back off until you alight the barrel index line with one on the cap. Unscrew barrel for one full revolution and lock in place with a set screw.
- Insert desired calibre die into place in barrel and lock it with set screw.
- Insert desired brass piece into calibre die.
- Loosen cutter set screw and move cutter until it touches neck of brass. Re-tighten setscrew.
- Slightly loosen cutting head set screw and adjust the position of the carbide insert so that the neck edge will touch the base of the V shape cutout on the insert. Re-tighten cutting head set screw.
- Loosen barrel set screw and adjust for height. Re-tighten. Each mark on the cap equals 0.002″ travel.
- Install into a drill, drill press, dedicated rotary tool, etc… Ensure the drill turns clockwise, otherwise cutters will not work properly.
- While drill is running, insert brass case into calibre die. If not trimmed to the right length shut down and adjust barrel as per Step 7.
- Go trim happy… When you don’t hear the inserted brass being trimmed, time to put in the next piece.
It is a lot of work for setting up the Trim-It II, but once the tool is setup, the unit is spectacularly fast in doing it’s job. For those who only have a hand drill however, the entire setup will be hard on the hands.
- Fast once setup
- Nearly forty calibres available
- Easily adjusted for OAL
- Ease of cleaning due to the polycarbonate sleeve
- Rock solid
- High quality
- Not expensive like a GTC Giraud Power Trimmer
- Adjusting the V-notch could be easier to tune
- Hard on hands if using a hand drill
- Handheld brass case tries to spin while cutting
- Not cheap like a Lee Zip-Trim
- Table top drill press, or dedicated drive unit for the Trim-It that allows for two hands to manipulate and hold brass.
- Design change for the carbide insert adjustment. Use a fine thread screw for adjusting distance from centre line.
The Trim-It II as reviewed is available from brick and mortar store locations such as Select Shooting Supplies in Cambridge, Ontario. Their listed prices are, at the time of this review, $189.95 CAD for the Trim-It II, and $29.95 CAD for each calibre die. Is the Trim-It II a worthy addition to one’s repertoire of reloading tools? Does it fall under the category of Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical devices for firearms owners? That is a simple question that only YOU, the reader can answer.
TPF-Online wishes to thank Mr. Chris V. for his comments and additional input on this review. Between his efforts and those of TPF-Online, nearly 2000 pieces of .308 Win brass was trimmed in very little time.
Getting brass clean enough for reloading is a dirt simple thing in principle. Wipe clean the outside of the case to ensure does not scratch or deform the brass due to dirt and debris while it feeds into a reloading die. That is all fine and dandy for someone who doesn’t really expend any volume of brass or regularly utilizes a Lee Loader for reloading, but what about the inside of the case? The primer residue and build-up in the pocket? What about tarnish and accumulated dirt and grime? 1911 owners who reload would loathe to leave behind scores of free .45 ACP range brass regardless of how dirty is was. The author fully embraces his Dutch heritage stereotype and if there is unclaimed, spent, centre-fire brass lying about at the local shooting range, it’s getting picked up. Firstly because it’s free brass, and secondly because the author likes to leave the range cleaner than when he arrived.
What to do with the hundreds of free pieces of brass of 9mm Luger or .223 Remington that are strewn about the range on a nearly daily basis? Unfortunately you will likely need to clean them from dirt, grass, and exposure to the elements. Sorting is also an issue, but that will be addressed in a future installment. Back on the topic of case cleaning; TPF did a overview of a Hornady Ultrasonic Cleaner a while ago, and while that method does indeed clean out all the impurities, it does not necessarily mean the result will be gleaming, shiny brass cases. Enter today’s entry into Tactical, Practical and Fantastical, Frankford Arsenal’s Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler. This unit comes complete with the tumbling drum and the drive chassis as well as with inserts, stainless media and a sample of concentrated cleaning solution.
But lets get to the details… The author has been collecting range brass for many years and as such has a fairly decent volume of spent cartridge cases sorted, and stored on reloading shelves. For this review, several hand fulls of .308 Winchester range brass was used for testing the effectiveness of this rotary tumbler. Only after the review did we count out 231 pcs of brass, a far cry from the 1000 pieces of .223 Remington that is claimed as working capacity.
What you get in the box…
- Drum driving base
- Dual layer drum
- Drum retaining cap (x2)
- Clear insert for cap (x2)
- Strainer insert for cap (x2)
- Bag of stainless steel media (2.27kg/5.0 lbs)
- Sample of concentrate cleaning solution
TPF looked over all the components of the unit and some items stood out for being remarked upon. The first item is the 1.85 gallon (7 litre) dual layer drum whose hard plastic outer shell can withstand the rollers and drive wheels and the mass of brass, pins, and liquids. Inside the drum is a softer rubber that is bonded to the inner surfaces of the drum. This is to quiet down the actual noise of an operating unit and also to ensure that the brass and pins tumble instead of just sliding along the inside of the drum. This is important as there are no protrusions internally to help agitate the brass and fluids while rotating. The end caps will normally be used with the clear window inserts which allow observers to become mesmerized by the continuous churning action.
The initial setup was used with the handfuls of de-primed brass, the sample pack of cleaning solution, and filling the container with supplied pins and distilled water. Distilled water, for those readers with a questioning expression, is a water that has most impurities removed and is listed to generate the best results. With the clear inserts in place and water tight, the rotary tumbler was started on a two hour adventure. With a dry media vibratory tumbler the unit settles into a manageable background noise that can be ignored easily. With an ultrasonic cleaner the noise is a hum, plus any case to case vibrations, which can be high pitch, but in general is a low noise level. Compared to either of the others, this rotary tumbler is is not even in the same class. It is loud, as in automotive versus airplane in noise difference… Now perhaps that was from not having completely filled the drum to capacity of cases to be cleaned and allowing huge space for brass and cleaning pins to shift around a large amount contributed to the noise level, it will be revisited in a future utilization.
The base drive unit of the tumbler is quite heavy and has a single set of driver rollers with the second set being a pair of idlng wheels. The controls are very simple for the power unit. It has a rotating dial which corresponds to the desired remaining time of operation. No on/off switch, just turn the dial from 0 to 3 hours. The rollers and geared drive units are listed as being rated for a maximum of a 13.4 kg (30 lbs) drum on top of the rollers. This published limit is there both to protect the drive gearing as well as the axles and plastic rotating wheels from excessive loads. For our review we set the unit into motion of a duration of two hours or the possible three.
The machine chugged away on top of the author’s reloading bench for just over 2 hours and the noise of the churning brass and pins, as well as the drive unit itself could be heard through the floor and across the author’s home. TPF recommends that if you utilize the this wet tumbler, that you perform the actual tumbling either outside, or in a garage as the operational sound level is quite high.
Upon finish of the 2 hours, the water in the drum was murky and dark, yet the cases gleamed like beacons in the grunge. This is where we find the biggest and perhaps the only flaw of this tumbling kit. The strainer inserts are one of the things that seemed lackluster and a far cry from practical. The operator needs to install it onto one end of the barrel and then flip it over to remove the second cover in order to “wash out” the drum and cleaned brass of dirty cleaning liquid and stainless steel pin media. The only problem is that the media does not come out as easily as Franklin Arsenal would lead you to believe. This determination was made AFTER using the strainer in an attempt to “Wash out” the stainless steel media from the cases. Some pins did indeed come out and fell into a home made filtering bucket. However getting fed up with having a clean drum, and pins stuck in cases still, the whole load was dumped onto the filter and the drum rinsed clean and put away.
At this point TPF used a rotary media separator that was partially filled with water which partially covered the load of cases in the rotating hopper. By spinning the hopper, the author proceeded to “separate” media from cases. This method worked spectacularly… What was left was a whole bunch of bright clean and very wet cases. Which is the second part that TPF is less than thrilled about, waiting for cases to dry… The author’s wife put her foot down when the oven was suggested as a means to remove the unwanted water. Luckily the time of year had a nice sunny warm forecast, and the cases were laid down to dry on a towel in the sun. And nearly 6 hours later when the author returned, the cases were dry and better than new in appearance.
The largest deterrents for stainless steel wet tumbling is the media separation, and the drying of the cases. However the end result of the entire process is an awesome level of cleanliness and sparkling bright brass. The resulting output from the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler (Model# 909544), is extremely clean and makes brass appear new once again. The reviewed unit has an MSRP of $239.00 USD, and can be found at brick and mortar stores across Canada such as Firearms Outlet Canada, located in Ajax, Ontario.
Is stainless steel, wet tumbling worth the investment and worth the time? That is for you, the reader to decide upon and determine for yourself if it is Practical, Tactical, or Fantastical.