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Thread: Bottom pour or ladle and pot

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Bottom pour or ladle and pot

    Just starting out and wondering what your opinions were on a starter setup. I've priced both and with the price difference what it is (lee units) I'm curious as to what is the consensus on the accuracy etc on the different ways of pouring

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I have a big pot on a turkey fryer stand ( 100+ lbs) and ladle cast from it. I cast mostly BPCR bullets that are big and long. My bullet for 38-55 weighs 350 grns. I get much more consistent bullets with the ladle method. The bid pot and burner make holding temps much easier do to the mass. I normally cast from 1-20 alloy around 750*.

    Heres my standard casting procedure.
    I usually use 2 moulds at the same time.
    I pre heat the moulds on a heat shelf built into my pot while its heating up.
    When I start casting I fill the first mould hanging it over the pot and over filling it letting the extra run back into the pot.
    I sit this down on the shelf and fill the second the same way. Sitting it down and picking up the first cut sprues and drop bullets close up and refill overfilling
    repeat this during the casting session. I also throw the first 8-10 drops from each mould back in the pot.

    By over filling the mould, here I fill the rcbs ladle full making a swirl with it submerged and gill the farthest cavity then the second pouring the whole ladle in and letting it run back into pot. This makes for a very consistent fill out, keeps the base spure hot longer for better base fill, and heps with releasing air and gases from the blocks.

    When Im done the run of bullets are culled for visual defects. They whole run ( usually around 400-500 bullets in 2 -4 calibers styles) is usually with in .5 grns. A moot variance in bullet weighing from 350 grns to 550 grns.

    A bottom pour pot will do a good job and can be accurate. I like the ladle for the bigger longer bullets.
    A ladle set up can be pieced together from yard sale items. A cast iron or steel pot ( mine was made from a 25 lb propane cylinder), turkey fryer stand and burner. Then a lyman rcbs or rowel ladle.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I've tried both and I prefer ladle casting. I enjoy it more that way. Ladle casting is more work in a way, but bottom pouring, while easier is more like a chore. Kinda like driving a stick vs an automatic.

    I also get better bullets ladle pouring. I often pour extra alloy over the sprue puddle to help wheel weights fillout better. That's messy with a bottom pour pot.

    I don't like tinkering on the bottom pour pots, I never have to do anything to my lee magnum melter, just keep lead in it and electricity trough it. I use a Lyman dipper.

  4. #4
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks for the input. I'll be doing large 45 cal bullets, 500+ grains, so I'm leaning ladle. I've got large propane burners but wondering if the electric furnace would be more consistent for heat?

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor0812 View Post
    Thanks for the input. I'll be doing large 45 cal bullets, 500+ grains,
    I have a old RCBS, 20 pound, bottom pour. It does great for boolits 200 grain & under.
    Doing a Iron single cavity mold, in .45cal. 405s- they're the most 'finicky', and when I have the highest reject rate.

    For your application, I'd use what ya got, or buy a electric furnace.
    There's probably good reasons some guys have a cult following for ladle pouring.
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 01-22-2020 at 10:36 PM.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    You mentioned accuracy in your first post. You mean consistency of the bullets weight and size right? That is a factor of pouring technique and the consistency of it. Either ladle or bottom pour will make consistent bullets once you get your technique down.

  7. #7
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazoo View Post
    You mentioned accuracy in your first post. You mean consistency of the bullets weight and size right? That is a factor of pouring technique and the consistency of it. Either ladle or bottom pour will make consistent bullets once you get your technique down.
    Yes, accuracy as in consistent pours

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I have dine both bottom pour pots electric pots and settled on my current set up. I recommend using a thermometer when casting. I find it easier to maintain temps with the large pot and gas burner. Another plus with my set up is I can open it up and have lead ready in 15 minutes. My weed burner is set up with 2 valves one is on and off the other is for setting the flame, When I see molten lead around the sides I turn it down to the casting point. The large mass of the big pot maintains temps very well.

    With the lee bottom pour pot and 500 grn 45 cal bullets my cull rate was way higher.

    The other advantage to my big pot is I can invite a couple friends over to cast with me from it. Im disabled with mobility / balance issue so a friend or 2 with me is a good idea. Normally the 3 of us sit and cast for 3-4 hours and go to lunch after a very enjoyable day. The 2 friends are older gents and also have issues so it works out well.

  9. #9
    Boolit Mold
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    As far as the pots being used, are they cast iron or stainless? I've got one cast iron that I was going to use for ingot pouring but for casting which is preferred?

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Cast iron stainless or steel no aluminum. My big pot is a cut down propane tank, If you go this route be careful and use all the safety precautions when cutting it. Flush with soap water several times remove valve and make sure no gas remains. I use a hack saw buy hand no torches or grinders

  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    I think ladle casting is best with 1 or 2 cavity molds and 300+ grain bullets. You need to get the lead into the mold quickly and a weighted sprue for base fill out.
    For large volume bullets it makes sense to use 4+ cavity molds and bottom pour. One disadvantage of bottom pour is a mold guide suitable for different mold widths and heights.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
    DHDeal's Avatar
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    I've never used a bottom pour electric pot. I started casting 530 and heavier 45 caliber BPCR bullets. I got used to ladling and geared all of my purchases towards that style of casting. It's evolved and my casting is now done off of a table that was built with a turkey fryer made into it. My shooting partner designed and built it as he is a fabricator and welder by trade. The cast iron pot will probably hold 50 pounds or so of alloy. If I decide to cast until I'm done for (big molds mucho heavy) I still won't run out of alloy and thats nice. My set up will also cast a beautiful revolver bullet too.

    The choice is yours, but I have zero experience with an electric pot and at this stage in my casting life, I probably never will. The bottom pourers love their set up's too and have their reasons for doing what they do. Honestly, I think there may be more bottom pourers than ladlers. Ladlers also know they have stronger forearms especially if they use MP 4-6 gang brass molds. Popeye is alive and well....

  13. #13
    Boolit Master poppy42's Avatar
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    Personally, I think anyone just started out should learn how to use a ladle first. My reasoning is first off if ya learn to ladle pour you can certainly lear to use a bottom pour (ya gotta learn ta walk before ya learn ta run)
    It’s cheaper. You can always buy a bottom pour pot at a later date once you learn to cast with a ladle.
    In my opinion one of the most important, to me any way, if the poop hits the fan I know that I can put my old cast iron pot on a heat source and cast Boolets.
    Don’t get me wrong I love my Lee 20 pound bottom pour pot, but I still use my old 4 pound pot for testing a new alloy, new mold or small amounts of Boolets. And I know that if the power goes out, I can still cast Boolets if I need to as long as I can start a fire!
    Long, Wide, Deep, and Without Hesitation!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Different needs may result in different solutions.

    In my case, I want high volume production, but also minimal movement, lifting and weight bearing to avoid fatigue in long sessions and to lesson the chance of aggravating old RSI problems. My decision is to use 8 cav aluminum molds with a bottom pour and a good mold guide that takes the weight.

    Others' needs may be different, and therefore approached differently.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    As a first year caster I started out with a hot plate, 2qt SS sauce pan that holds about 16# of alloy comfortably and a Lyman ladle. I my case I am only using 2 molds. One 100gr .356" and one 200gr .452", both being Lee aluminum 2 cavity models. Experience using this was that the pot and hot plate was slow to get up to temp and was limited on how hot it would get. Though it would get hot enough to make very frosty bullets. The ladle took a couple sessions to get a real feel for but I was expecting that. By the third session I was making some very nice bullets right away and it made me quite happy!

    I have since come up with a Lee 10# Bottom pour pot and right away I learned this. It quickly melted the alloy and got up to temp and again I am not trying to get a feel for the bottom pour but at this time I think I still like ladling more. Also there is not much room in the Lee Pro IV pot to get a ladle into it. I am thinking of getting a 20# Lee Magnum pot. I will still keep the SS Pan and the 7" cast iron skillet for rendering down WW and scrap.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master


    Walks's Avatar
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    I do both.
    I learned with a 1cav mold & a ladle over a small pot on a Coleman Stove almost 60yrs ago.
    My Dad & Uncle would cast over a 100lb Plumbers Pot with 8-10cav H&G molds.

    There were no bottom pour pots big enough back then.

    I think someone learning to cast with a 25lb bottom pour pot and a 8cav mold is just about as bad as learning to load their own ammo by starting off with a dillon.

    If you Don't learn every step OF a process one step at a time, You WILL make a BIG mistake down the line.

    You gotta walk before you can run.
    I can still hear My Dad saying that, and He's been gone 30+ years.

    So start with a Dipper and a 1 or 2cav mold.
    You will really appreciate sending each bullet down the bore.
    I HATE auto-correct


    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

    My Experience and My Opinion, are just that, Mine.

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master






    Lloyd Smale's Avatar
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    oldest question on here. Some believe in ladle casting some bottom pour. In my opinion you can make quality bullets just as good in either if you know what your doing. If your just starting and don't know if your going to really take up the hobby id go cheap. A old kitchen pot and a ladle. If you know your at least going to stick with it in some amount id step up to a lee bottom pour. There relatively cheap but will make bullets. If you KNOW this is what you want to do save up and buy a rcbs pro melt. With a 20lb pot you can use it as a ladle pot too if you find you like that better.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  18. #18
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks for all the information. Looks like I need to get a ladle

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I started very primitive with a small iron pot and a ladle. That was intentional to prove to myself that it could be done.
    I was originally casting round balls for cap & ball revolvers. When I made the leap to bullets for cartridges, I stepped up to a bottom pour pot knowing that I could always go back to using a ladle if needed.

    Bottom pour is clearly faster in terms of production rate. It requires a bit less movement and over the length of the session.

    People that cast large bullets claim the ladle is better and there's probably some truth to that.

    A pot and ladle is clearly the simpler set up and will be less expensive. However, if you buy a pot without a bottom pour, you're stuck with that. If you later decide you want a bottom pour pot, you will need to acquire one. So there is some advantage to starting with a bottom pour pot.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Bottom pour and always have, but if I were to ladle cast think I would go with something like the Lee electric melter for ease of temp control and ventilation issues due to open combustion. One comment I have heard over the years concerns the type of ladle, seems one like the Lyman is preferred to the Lee spoon type. Have no experience casting big heavy bullets so won't comment on that.

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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