Another January has come and gone, and with it was once again the largest event of its kind in the world… The 2018 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center from January 23rd through the 26th. Covering nearly 6 hectares (14.8 acres) of flooring, an excess of 2100 exhibitors displayed their products and services for some 60,000 attendees of the 4 day event. 2018 signified the 40th anniversary of the SHOT Show which started way back in 1979 with 290 exhibitors covering a comparatively miniscule 0.48 hectares (1.1 acres).
This year’s SHOT Show also marks the 20th time that SHOT has been hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada; and city that is larger than life seems to be a prefect fit for the SHOT Show. Last year saw nearly 3.2 million kg (3,500 tons) of exhibits moved onto the show floor. To put it mildly, the SHOT Show is unbelievably huge. However there is always a catch when it comes to the biggest and best; the SHOT Show is not open to the general public. That is correct, it is only open to members of the industry and trade. Manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, exporters, retailers, training, non-profit organization and media, all of which are involved in Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoors are able to apply to attend SHOT Show.
The SHOT Show is preceded by Industry Day at the Range on the Monday before the show. This day allows only exhibitor-invited media and buyers to come out to Boulder City Rifle & Pistol Club and experience first hand the products offered by over 160 companies. Everything from crossbows to handguns, throwing axes to fully automatic rifles and everything in-between. With over 1400 media and 800 buyers potentially being on site during this day, Industry Day continues to be the premier hunting and shooting event in the industry providing hands-on experience for attendees. The one caveat is the same as during SHOT Show itself, members of the public are not allowed.
This was the author’s 12th year of attending the SHOT Show and I was accompanied by some long time attendees who had an additional dozen or more shows under their belts. The SHOT Show is now less fun and exciting than it used to be, likely due to the more structured and business oriented planning now done by the author. However, attending the event has always left the author with a sense of awe at the sheer scale of firearms and accessories that are even out there. In perspective; Canada’s outdoor hunting, sporting market brings in roughly $6.5 billion in annual revenue. SHOT Show has that value of product and exhibits on display. Damned!
Now SHOT Show does bring in companies that have absolutely anything remotely to do with the firearms industry, and that includes law enforcement as well as other enterprises. However in a dozen years this had to be the first time the author noticed certain things that never had been at the show previously or escaped notice. With an excess of 1800 exhibitors, you will always miss something when attending, but some stuff is also new…
IF you thought that the Industry Day at the Range would be the favourite of the author’s annual pilgrimage to SHOT, you would be very close indeed. However, it is the now huge Canadian event that keeps the author coming back every year. The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) once again stepped up and hosted the 5th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception, with the support of the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA). This event has literally blossomed from a dozen people gathered in a hotel room, to a huge event that draws in Canadians from every aspect of the firearms community. Hosted at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, the event was held towering above the city of Las Vegas 108 stories in the air. The view was incomparable, the food was great but extremely short-lived, and the casual atmosphere allowed for the Canadian contingent of SHOT Show attendees to unwind a bit and relax and talk to other Canadians about anything including shop talk. This past event hosted in excess of 300 individuals that otherwise rarely, if ever, communicate to each other except through emails and phone calls. However this reception in its current state is only possible through the sponsorship of multiple firearms related businesses and individuals. TPF would like to personally thank each of these for their support and will list each and every one here.
Tactical Ordinance Inc.
Double Tap Sports
Holosun Technologies Inc.
Firearms Legal Defence
Korth Group Ltd.
Thanks to these sponsors for making the Canadian SHOT Show Reception possible and for being a part of the event. Here at TPF we will be sure to visit each of the sponsors and look at what they have to offer to our Canadian firearms community. We hope that you would do so as well.
As preparations have already begun for next year’s 41st SHOT Show, which will return to the Sands Expo on January 22-25, 2019; so to have the preparations for the 6th Annual Canadian SHOT Show Reception. Companies and potential attendees are asked to contact CSSA Director Mike Duynhoven.
As a FYI to readers who are not Canadian, or are not familiar with our listed organizations; the CSSA is similar to the USA’s National Rifle Association, only more polite eh? They are the organization that represents the firearms consumers across Canada with training, and political outreach; but only have two decades under their belt compared to the NRA’s 150. The CSAAA represents the Canadian firearms industry and looks after their interests, similar to the National Shooting Sports Foundation which organizes and runs the SHOT Show.
Here is a few images showing some of our Canadian companies that are exhibiting at SHOT Show! Make sure to visit ALL of them and help them all out.
There are currently over 30 Canadian companies that exhibit at SHOT Show with more and more doing so every following year. We at TPF will strive to get you a list and images of every single one of our Canadian exhibitors next year at SHOT Show 2019. Thank you for reading all the way through this small write-up of the 2018 SHOT Show. We will soon have more reviews and look forwards to future events for 2018.
Fun Fact: Canada, while only a tenth of the population of the USA, has a substantial number of legal firearms owners. For every 1000 firearms made in the USA, 95% of those remain in the USA for domestic sales, Canadian markets account for 80-90% of the those exported from the USA. That means out of every 500 firearms exported from US manufacturers, Canadian markets get 400-450 of those. This is the reason that most firearms manufactured have a slightly longer barrel to meet Canadian Restricted status instead of Prohibited, such as Ruger GP-100 is 108mm (4.2″) in length.
In the never ending debate regarding who makes a better reloading press, most are argued by colour. The big three are the green machines of RBCS, Hornady’s red equipment and the focus of this installment of TPF, the blue of Dillon Precision. Do not let the title fool you as it is a reference to the detractors as well as the supporters of Dillon products, who would be adamant that you, “Do or do not drink the blue Kool-Aid.” Aka, using Dillon’s presses.
As the title and opening lines suggest, Dillon Precision Products are normally painted in a blue colour which sets them as a recognizable alternative to the other press manufacturers. TPF has had some experience with progressive presses from other manufacturers, and has loaded several tens of thousands of rounds on single stage presses, to turret presses, to progressive presses. This would be our first foray into “Blue”. We selected a Dillon XL650 progressive press, as it is considered to be the staple flagship of the Dillon progressive press line. We also decided initially to use .40 S&W as the loading calibre as it is the “bastardized” calibre that usually incorporates parts from both a 9mm and a .45ACP setup, and causes the most headaches for reloaders.
The setup for reviewing:
- Dillon XL650 progressive press (MSRP $589.95 USD)
- 1 primer system with large and small priming parts (appropriate size installed).
- 1 large and one small primer pick-up tube.
- low primer alarm
- 1 loaded cartridge bin
- 1 set of standard Allen wrenches
- 1 toolhead
- 1 powder measure with standard large and small powder bars (small bar installed).
- 1 powder die
- 1 caliber conversion kit – installed
- Dillon .40 S&W die set (MSRP $67.95 USD)
- Dillon Roller handle (MSRP $47.95 USD)
- Dillon Case feeder (large pistol casefeed plate) (MSRP $239.95USD)
- Dillon Powder check (MSRP $70.95 USD)
This time around we are going to change it up a bit and go right to the cons of the Dillon XL650. The reasoning is simple, the two biggest negatives that are outstanding are very important ones that would prevent someone from purchasing this press. We at TPF can sense the pro-Dillon group gnashing their teeth and cursing us for stating this right up front, but please bear with us. These reasons would prevent someone from being able to utilize a Dillon XL650 period, regardless if they wanted one, it is that important to understand.
The first thing that anyone needs to realize is that the Dillon is a large, tall press which towers roughly 81cm (32″) above the mounting surface. That is without the case feeder system feeding/mounting requirements and the optional strong mount component, which add in 16cm (6.5″) and 21cm (8.5″) respectively and with clearance requirements . Most benches and tables are 0.9m (36″) high, when you add in the additional 1.2m (47″) including assembly/disassembly clearance, you are just a 9mm case short of 2.1m (84″). For many basements in older homes this is a very tall press indeed. especially with ductwork and other stuff which can severely limit ceiling height. However as tested without the strong mount option, this XL650 measured 89cm(35″) above the mounting surface and TPF had no issues at the review location.
Other than the height of the unit, the main drawback of the Dillon XL 650 is the initial starting cost. Many people tend to overlook reloading press costs when talking about reloading, but not everyone will have the funds available to acquire a Dillon XL650 without some planning and budgeting. The base unit has a hefty price tag of nearly $590 USD at the time of this review. What if the reloader wants the ability to interchange calibres fast, have fast primer fillers, storage racks for tools and calibre set-ups, etc…? Dillon can provide the components and tools to make it happen, but for a price. When you add in the listed add-ons just solely for this review, the press costs adds up to in excess of $1000 USD. And that is not even the extent of the optional components and add-ones to enhance the XL650 to it’s fullest such as:
- Strong Mount (550/650) (MSRP $50.95 USD)
- Low Powder Sensor (MSRP $42.95 USD)*
- Bullet Tray (MSRP $44.95 USD)
- Toolholder w/Wrench Set (MSRP $30.95 USD)
- Dillon Pistol Three Die Set (MSRP $67.95 USD)*
- Additional Case Feed Plates (MSRP $39.95 USD)
- Machine Maintenance Kit (MSRP $41.95 USD)
- Spare Parts Kit (MSRP $27.95 USD)
- Dust Cover (MSRP $42.95USD)
- Toolhead Stand (MSRP $22.95)
- For additional calibres (*optional)
- Toolhead (MSRP $31.95 USD)
- Calibre Conversion Kit (MSRP $79.95 USD)
- Powder Die (MSRP $12.95 USD)
- Powder Measure (MSRP $84.95 USD)
If you wanted a fully kitted-out Dillon machine with two (2) complete calibres such as 9mm and .45 ACP, your total would be in excess of $1650 USD. That is some serious expenditure for the majority of casual firearms owners. If you are wanting Magnum rifle and exotic calibres, the prices are even higher for those component parts. Space claim, and cost. These are the TWO major obstacles that need to be overcome before acquiring a Dillon XL650 progressive press. That is it. So if you have the ability to fit and afford the Dillon please keep reading on.
While there are a few little quirks and stickling points regarding the press and its usage, they are not reasons for avoiding the Dillon.
Looking at the initial design and the quality, fit and finish of the press when assembled, it is nearly flawless. The main press frame components are cast clean with no flash and a beautiful, even powder coated blue finish. The alloy cast parts are neat and clean as well with minimal parting lines displayed and no burrs or sharp edges anywhere that can be touched. Machined portions are excellent with good surface finished and minimal tooling marks visible. The entire design uses hex head bolts, or hex head cap screws when threaded components are required, the remainder is attached and assembled with E-Clips and various snap rings. A very well engineered design, with good hardware control. Items which are not powder coated, or aluminum are plated to minimize corrosion, which is another added plus. Which brings us to another item. Dillon’s “No BS Warranty!” Every single option and add-on is as well made as the press assembly itself and Dillon stands behind it’s mechanical components for life. Yes for life. You have something break, bend, or otherwise get mauled? Call Dillon, get it replaced.
The instruction/installation manual is extensive and includes all Dillon options for mounting and installation. Loaded with visual images and clear precise methods, the manual includes full part lists and detailed component breakdowns. Bolting and mounting is as simple as can be expected for a progressive press. Set-up of the press is clear and pretty much straight forward thank to the illustrative and comprehensive instruction manual. The manual progresses through the setup of any calibre in an orderly fashion, starting with the re-sizing and decapping, moving on to the primer feed system and powder measure and finally with the seating and crimping portion of the press.
The usage of retaining pins for case keeping at the five (5) indexed positions are very accessible and allow for a simple method of removing/reinserting cases in the middle of the reloading process. A very simple and smart idea. The finished bullet chute works extremely well at delivering the completed round to whatever size of tray you wish to use for the final catch basin.
The slider bar powder system is a tried and true design that has been used for many decades in powder dispensing systems. In the case of the Dillon, the bar has an adjustable orifice which allows for the volumetric control of powder to be dispensed on each operation. With this come the first little quirk as setting your desired volume of powder is a very touchy operation due to the simple hex head bolt system. There are numerous aftermarket components or replacements to this adjustment bolt that allow for a finer control over the orifice size. That being said; once the system is setup, it stays consistent and never shifted during our testing.
With the system setup, TPF churned out over one thousand rounds of ammo in a little under three (3) hours. Please remember that this was our initial setup and test run of this press and we observed all aspects of the press to determine the function and traits of the press. Our biggest bottleneck in reloading? Filling primer tubes. Once we had gotten the system all setup TPF decided to try the quick change aspect of the system and acquired a Calibre Conversion kit, dies, toolhead, etc… for 9mm. Here is where the strength of the Dillon truly shines with the ease of swapping full calibre arrangements back and forth, in under 15 minutes with pre-set toolheads. The new tool head had the powder measure, dies already setup and locked in place, with the only requirements being to remove a few set screws, change the brass plate holder and the pins and VIOLA! The press is ready to go, only for a different calibre. Except for the bending of an Allen-key trying to remove a very secure factory installed insert, the changeover worked very well. We are assuming that this issue will not give us any issues in the future as anti-seize compound was added to the offending thread during the calibre conversion. As long as the primer size remains the same, this is an extremely easy method for swapping calibres.
With the new 9mm setup, we quickly produced in excess of 1500 completed rounds of ammunition. By quickly we should mention that it was in the same timeframe as previously, three (3) hours.
The ONE stickling point…
The primer system…. This is the only truly detraction that the XL650 has regarding it’s operation. Primers are ejected from the De-Capping die into a small removable tray and occasionally the primers will bounce out of the tray and onto the floor, regardless on the manufacture and design of the de-capping pin. So keep a broom handy and watch your step if you hear the primers fall out and empty your spent primer collection tray on a regular basis. The real issue is when installing new primers into cases. Specifically if there is no case to install a primer into… The primer feed system is a positive indexing system so it feeds a new primer with every pull of the handle and if it doesn’t use the primer, well… When the primer loading system cycles and fails to install a primer into a case due to the absences of the case, that primer continues on it’s way around in the primer carousel until it gets dropped. This occurs before the next primer tries to take up the same space. That unused primer then takes a trip off what is known as the Dillon Ski-Ramp. TPF installed the 9mm conversion kit and then heard something hitting the wall with nearly every press for a couple pulls of the handle. Turns out to have been live primers launching themselves off a small sloped path located at the front underside of the main ram platform. This shallow, low ridged ramp, actually managed to stop 1 in 5 live primers during our setup of the 9mm, so if you are doing any setup, do it with an empty primer system.
The Options: As reviewed
- Roller Handle – Very well made, and more comfortable to use that the original handle, but not a requirement for an efficient XL650 setup.
- Powder Check – An excellent and simple design. Easy to use and to move from one calibre set-up to another. A good addition.
- Case Feeder – The unit itself is quiet, very quiet. The low and high speed options are excellent and the steel guide panel is an excellent choice to adjust for the feed wheel edge. Be aware that these case feeders are not meant to hold more than a couple hundred cases at a time due to mass, the motor/clutch can be overloaded. A necessity for any volume reloading.
These last couple items are more of a general commentary on what Dillon can du to improve their product, or at least include to make their customers even more satisfied.
- Primer de-cap tray and the ‘Ski Jump’ – add in a small piece of foam in the de-capped collection tray or increase it’s depth to prevent bounce outs. Change the design of the ski-ramp to have larger walls or into a removable barrier that stops unused primers from launching across the room. There are already aftermarket option out here for this.
- A small tube of lubrication- The greased ramps work well, if a bit messy as if you need to adjust you will come into contact with at least one of these sliding surfaces. That way Dillon can indicate what types of grease to you and frequency of re-application.
- Locator arrow – Station #1 should have an arrow on the locator as it can go in backwards, where it will not work. Ask TPF how they know this…
- The ratchet system – Another company builds a bearing drop-in system that makes the ratchet action as smooth as silk.
- Mounting hardware – It’s $1 worth of bolts, washers, and nuts. Include it with the basic set.
- Spare parts kit – Have some of the more commonly broken, smaller items included as spares, such as plastic nuts, pins, etc…
We have drank the Blue Kool-Aid and have found it a very satisfying… Expensive and not perfect, but a very capable machine for those reloaders who want to maximize their rate of loading with the ability to have multi-calibre stations available to change on a whim. For the shooter who only reloads for one single calibre, there may be other brands which will preform the same for a more affordable price point. However! if you load for two or more (2+) calibres and value your time for setting up a press and appreciate the convenience of fully setup, easily swappable calibre conversions, the Dillon XL650 may be indeed the best flavour of kool-aid for you!
With a base MSRP of $589.95 USD, Dillon Precision’s XL650 reloading press is a solid addition to a reloader’s repertoire of equipment, albeit not inexpensive. Dillon Precision products are available online as well as at physical stores such as the Montreal Firearms Recreation Centre (CRAFM), in Lachine, Quebec. As always, to readers of TPF, the final decision of this product is up to you. Do you think that it falls under the category of Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical?
Some additional images:
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.