Little Crow Gunworks WFT Trimmer Review
By Daryl Davis
Since I am the “designated reloader” for our group, I’m always reloading cartridges. I started out with trim dies which are slow and progressed to a case trimming lathe, in my case a Redding Model 2400 Micrometer head, which I’ve now sold on the Long Range Hunting site. (Thanks Len for your classified section)
While the Redding case trimming lathe produces trimmed cartridges that hold tolerance (in my case I consider a one to two thousandth of an inch acceptable), the Redding trim lathe has some inherent drawbacks. One, as a manual trimmer for a quantity of cases, it becomes literally a pain in the hand, as cranking the handle soon becomes an exercise in a sore palm and two. More importantly, when you feed the cartridge brass into the cutter, you have to be careful as you apply pressure to the crank because as you advance the cartridge and apply pressure there is a tendency for the cartridge (chucked in the stepped collet) to deflect a bit even with the case mouth supported by the cutter pilot, causing the case to cut out of tolerance. So it takes time and a bit of dexterity on your part. While the Redding Collet Chuck is a neat idea, one has to be cognizant when seating brass in the collet, to be sure the collet clamps the brass securely. Finally, the cutter Redding provides is a specialized cutter and replacement is expensive.
So, with a sore palm and a bunch of untrimmed cases I began my search for a better trimmer. I looked at the Giraud trimmer, which is a production machine. The Giraud is self-powered with its own motor, and has proprietary heads. That is, each head is for a specific caliber/case. To do an assortment of calibers/cartridges entails buying an assortment of heads and changing out heads as your caliber/case requirements change. Plus the Giraud isn’t inexpensive.
Perusing the Internet, I stumbled upon Dale Hegstrom and his Little Crow Gunworks WFT Trimmer. The WFT trimmer is similar in design to the Giraud except you power it with your cordless drill, or in my case, chucked in a 3 jaw chuck in one of my lathes that isn’t being used. The WFT trimmer uses an ordinary center cutting end mill as the cutter and calibers are interchangeable by simply changing out the caliber specific insert that fits into the sealed bearing on the front of the trimmer body and is held in place with an ‘o’ ring. This is unlike the Giraud, where you have to change the entire head. The sealed bearing has basically no runout and the inserts are chamber reamed for a specific caliber. It’s just like chambering a round in your rifle but without a bullet. You insert the brass (after resizing and cleaning of course), bring it to bear against the end mill and your cartridge is trimmed to length and the case mouth is square. Takes about 3 seconds. The cases pictured were run consecutively and all are within 2.005 +- 0.002. A quick ¼ turn against the milling cutter after the cartridge is finished cutting removes any burr, it’s that easy and quick. Dale claims 3-5 thousand cases per cutter before replacement, but considering the cost of a 2 or 4 flute end mill versus the specialized cutter on the Redding, replacement is cheap.