View Full Version : .44 Henry cartridge?

December 16, 2010, 02:46 PM
Need help identifying the estimated production year and any other info for this particular type of cartridge (.44 Henry). Several of these cartridges were found on an archaeological survey in NW AZ. Any info is appreciated. Thank you.



December 16, 2010, 03:42 PM
Introduced in 1860, last commercially manufactured in the 1930s. Most likely not much used after 1880 due to the weak charge compared to the centerfire cartridges of the time. Nice double strike firing pin marks of a Henry rifle.

December 16, 2010, 03:45 PM
According to Cartridges Of The WOrld, .44 Henry was manufactured from 1860-61 until 1934. There are two case lengths, the earlier case was .815" long, later case was .875". It appears your sample is too short to be one of the later cases, perhaps you have one of the earlier cases, or perhaps you have a .44 Short.

December 16, 2010, 05:14 PM
The length of the cartridge is 3/4 in., if that helps with identification.

The cartridges were found alongside many pottery sherds in some well-hidden alcoves on the side of a cliff, suggesting that they were fired during the Indian Wars. Possibly used in defense against the US cavalry.

Mike Irwin
December 16, 2010, 08:07 PM
Unfortunately it is virtually impossible to identify by year, or even a year range, most civilian-manufactured ammunition.

The "H" headstamp was used on Winchester manufactured rim fire cartridges for well over 100 years, and may still be used.

As someone mentioned, given the rough length of the case (the .44 Short case was actually around .688 inches long), it is possible that the cartridge is actually a .44 Short and not a .44 Henry.

.44 Short was virtually identical in all dimensions to the .44 Henry except case length.

I'm not sure how it would have fed through a Henry rifle's magazine, but it is possible that it would feed without a problem.

The double firing pin strike is a hallmark of the Henry rifle and the later Winchester Model 1866.

James K
December 16, 2010, 08:36 PM
The carrier system used in the Henry, 1866 Winchester and 1873 Winchester simply does not allow the gun to be used as a repeater with a cartridge shorter or longer than the standard.* The case length can vary, but the cartridge OAL must be within specs.

The .44 Short RF was used mainly in small revolvers and pocket pistols, though some would also accept the longer .44 Henry. One could use the .44 Short in a Winchester '66 or Henry, but only as a manually fed single shot rifle, something that desperate people certainly would do if necessary.

* Those rifles have no cartridge stop. If the cartridge is too long, the carrier cannot move upward; it is blocked by the bullet protruding into the magazine. If the cartridge is too short it will allow the next round to protrude into the carrier, also blocking it. While later Winchester carriers can be altered or replaced, the carrier length on the older guns is set by the frame.


Mike Irwin
December 17, 2010, 09:07 AM
'No carrier stop..."

I'd forgotten about that.

December 27, 2010, 01:05 AM
The bullet that the Henry used was what is called the "44 Flat".It was one of the very first if not the first attempt to make a big bore rimfire round.Remember the 22 short had only came out a few years eailer.So the idea was to double the diameter and enlarge the case for more powder and see what happened.It was not a very powerful round from what I have read being somewhere close to a modern day 38 spl round.Hope this helps.

James K
December 27, 2010, 08:46 PM
Not all Henry cartridges used a flat point bullet, but the original cartridges did because the flat point fed better and allowed a heavier bullet while keeping within the cartridge OAL requirement. If you are familiar with the Henry, Winchester 66 or Winchester 73 feed system, you know why the COAL has to be kept within rather rigid limits.


December 27, 2010, 11:04 PM
The bullet was not a flat point,it was a round nose 200 gr in most cases.The cartridge was referred to as the 44 Flat.The 1866 Winchester also known as the Yellow boy also used this round.The shell casing is a rimfire not a centerfire like say a 44-40.

Mike Irwin
December 27, 2010, 11:10 PM
Actually, a flat-point bullet WAS a common loading in the .44 Henry, at least in the early days of the cartridge.

See here for one early example: http://www.oldammo.com/september04.htm

This is an example of a box of loaded rounds from probably from the very late 1880s or early 1890s, just after UMC purchased Remington:


Here's a beautiful example of a pre-1887 box of UMC cartridges for the .44 Henry.


And, finally, another example of a Winchester-loaded flat-nose bullet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:44_Henry_Flat_cartridge.JPG

Judging by the headstamp, that one is probably from the middle 1870s.