.44 Henry Bullets and sectioned cartridges

A few years ago I became interested in the .44 Henry cartridges. The reason I say cartridges is that, as most of us know, there was more than 1 bullet weight offered and at least 2 different length cases.

I searched for specimens and found 4 different bulleted variations.

I was curious about the length of the heel inside of the case, compression on the powder charge, etc., so I dissected each one.

I had wondered how the original 216 gr. bullet was lubed as all the rest had exposed grease grooves. I originally thought that the heel might have a lube groove in it but that did not prove to be the case.

Here is a pic of the bullets they contained.

Cartridges sectioned

I was also interested in the ballistics of the different cartridges so I took the powder charges and placed each into a primed .44-40 case, than seated an equivalent weight lead bullet down on the charge to the same amount of compression that was used by the factory(s). Velocities were taken from firing in a 24" barrel.

200 gr flat / 28 grs. powder / 1,133 f.p.s. That is remakably close to the published 1,125 f.p.s.
200 gr ptd / 26 grs. powder / 1,042 f.p.s.
216 gr ptd / 25 grs. powder / 1,010 f.p.s.
225 gr flat / 25 grs. powder / 960 f.p.s.

At least that gives us some perspective of the approximate velocities. However, different cartridge lots would have used different lots of powder with likely varying ballistic strengths which would = slighly different results.

If anyone has anything to add regarding other bulleted variations, please do so. Thank you.

Interesting history.

Hal Ferguson is big into .44 Henry, you can contact via Directory if you are an IAA member. Are the images of the powder zoomed-in / cropped to better show the grain shapes? The grains look very big for some reason.

John: Most interesting! Did you record the weight of the complete loaded cartridges before dismantling them? Jack

Even though black powder has been around for centuries, its manufacture has never been consistent from maker to maker, in terms of quality control over raw materials purity and production methods. I imagine that it was very challenging to maintain uniform factory ballistic performance during the mid- to late-19th Century.

Thank you for the info. Actually, I got two of the cartridges from Hal.
Since the cartridges are bigger than actual size in the pic, the powder is out of porportion as well.
I ran the powder through some screens to determine the size. The 3 left cartridges contained 2F and the far right, 3F.

Yes I did. I’ll look for the info.