44 WCF at The Battle of the Little Bighorn


The only thing that looks to reflect that measurement would be the rim diameter.

Very interesting notes!!!

I added that to the website as a starting point when I get time.
Thanks for sharing that information.


John Moss,
Thank you for adding those UMC cartridge shop notes. Lots of really useful information there.


Here is a 73’ supposedly used, or could have been used, at TLBH. Would be nice to check and see if it matched any cases recovered.


I would think that the serial number would tell the story. I have a first model 73 also, and in the 16,000 series, it is still past the date of the LBH fight. That rifle seems to have the single-set trigger. Mine does also, as well as a non-standard 26 inch barrel.

It looks in awfully good condition to have seen use in Sioux Nation hands. The “Native Americans” of the day were not very adept at care and cleaning of their rifles, plus they often decorated them in one way or another. They were also known to have sabotaged rifles and handguns finally turned in to authorities when peace came, and after many had fled to Canada after the LBH but ended up returning to U.S. territory.

Once again, though, the serial number would tell if was even possibly used at the LBH.

Wish I could take a picture of a rifle as good as that one. Lighting is perfect. I do ok with handgun pictures, but never could get what I would call a good picture of a long gun.

Edited for typo errors only.

John Moss


One would think that with such an important claim, one would include such information in the description. Why would someone purposefully leave out the SN# for such an auction?


John, regarding UMC date Jan. 2 1886

John Kort sent me some hand cast Lyman 427098’s mixed 1/75 @ 216gr four or five years ago. I shot them in some clear ballistics gel. The results were great. The one thing I began to notice is the deformation of the bullets from the blast compression. They certainly resemble a lot of recovered Henry bullets.




While your data card interests me since I have loaded the .44-40 cartridge extensively for CAS, I don’t use black powder. Also, generally speaking, loading data for reloaders is a discouraged topic on this Forum due to the liability of publishing loading data.

It is interesting though, that your friend is using the same mixture, basically, for the bullet as did UMC roughly 135 years ago. .

John Moss


Edited the photo with the powder charge data.

Yes, John did some great experimenting and busted a few myths. He enjoyed “stepping back in time” and shooting replicated loads.

I really got way off topic too but it has been very educational.


I tried to compare some case lengths with photos offered in the book Archaeological Perspectives…LBH as well as here: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Miscellaneous-cartridges-and-cases-a-Smith-and-Wesson-Russian-bullet-and-case-FS_fig13_266451313 .

The photos are not perfect but it should shed some light on the cartridge case lengths found.

48368507_1073873726126543_4345424829491445760_n !
Left - Starline case length 1.300" not resized

Left - RP brass cut to 1.177" resized

Left - Starline case length 1.300" not resized

Left - RP brass cut to 1.177" resized

Left - RP brass cut to 1.177" resized
Right - X-ray Milbank combo 1.177"

Left - Starline case length 1.300" not resized
Right - X-ray Milbank combo 1.177"

This doesn’t mean the cases published are not Milbank primed, this just means that they appear to be standard length cases rather than the shorter 1.177" Prototype length.


John: Would like to second Guy’s thanks for the UMC shop notes. It appears to me that in those notes both of the revisions for 1904 seem to relate to the .44 Henry rather than the .44-40. Jack


Jack - that would likely be an erroneous assumption. The UMC shop notes are caliber/case-type specific. There are actually other entries for versions of the .44-40 cartridges, such as the High Velocity version, which I did not bother with for this thread, since they seem irrelevant to anything to with the LBH battle.

I actually found no entries for the regular .44 RF Henry cartridge, but my search for that was cursory, for sure. I only found an entry for .44 Henry Blank cartridges. If I find the time, I will make a more thorough search for the .44 Henry RF.

John M.


I am going to try and track down the 25 cases found at LBH. I am still trying to track down the single 44-40 case found by someone at the Battle of the Rosebud. I think it was in a private collection but I just can’t remember.


John: Perhaps then these 1904 comments relate to some specific project undertaken in this caliber rather than to the standard over the counter cartridge. Jack


The April 7, 1904 change in the shop notes to 200 grains for the bullet are for the .44 Winchester. This change to a 200 grain bullet is reflected in the 1905 catalog for all three cartridges.

The October 1904 shop note apparently applied to the .44 Winchester cartridge as was indicated in the notes. The 1906 UMC catalog includes a separate listing for a .44 Winchester with 28 grains of powder.


Here are photos of (1) the portion of the 1905 catalog showing the changes forthe .44 Winchester, .44 CLMR, and .44 Marlin to the 200 grain bullet weights, and (2) the portion of the page from the 1906 catalog showing the separate .44 Winchester 28 grain powder charge listing.




Jack - all I can do is report what the log says, with confidence that they are speaking of some changes to the form of the cartridge we know today as .44 WCF or .44-40. I cannot speculate on any projects at UMC that they did not include in their “Cartridge History Log.”

John M.


The Orcutt copper primer Patent date is October 24, 1871.
The Improved Orcutt copper primer Patent date is October 31, 1874.


The matter of bullet weight for the UMC .44-40 got me to carefully re-read John’s transcription from the UMC shop notes, plus early UMC price lists and a couple of other things. I found that the UMC lists for 1880 through 1885/86 listed only the 200 gr. bullet which I think was their original weight. UMC developed the 217 gr. bullet 1886 and kept it until 1904, returning to the 200 gr. version. While UMC in 1886 adopted the heavier bullet for all its variants of the .44-40 cartridge, Winchester picked up the 217 gr. bullet only (it seems) for the Colt Lightning rifle.

It appears what sunk the 217 gr. bullet for UMC was its greater weight. Seventeen grains doesn’t seem like much, but a 2000 round case of ammo loaded with the 217 will outweigh a similar crate of 200 gr. loads by about five pounds. It looks like the folks in UMC’s sales division felt the disparity in delivered costs of their .44-40 in, say, Buenos Aires was enough to favor Winchester. So the retreat to the original weight was made. Or so it seems to me. Jack

p.s. under the date Apr. 1890 the reference to “O.E. powder” probably refers to Laflin and Rand’s “Orange Extra” powder.


One of my favorite articles John Kort wrote was his “Two Peas in a Pod”. I liked it so much I made it the website mascot so to speak.

He notes…

U.M.C.’s .44 C.F. / .44-40

Not long after Winchester introduced it‘s first central fire cartridge, U.M.C. (Union Metallic Cartridge Co.) located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, began offering their version of the same cartridge which they initially called the .44 C.F. and later changed to the .44-40. Some cartridge boxes were labeled .44 Winchester, giving credit to the firm who invented the cartridge. Because Marlin did not manufacture cartridges like Winchester did, it worked closely with U.M.C. and it’s rifles bore the .44-40 designation.

Early Differences between the .44 W.C.F. and .44-40 cartridges

Until 1885, both cartridges were dimensionally the same and both used a 200 gr. bullet over 40 grains of black powder. However, from 1886 until 1904, the .44-40 cartridge would carry a heavier 217 gr. bullet at 1,190 f.p.s. The .44 W.C.F. cartridge on the other hand, would continue to be offered with the 200 gr. bullet at a slightly faster 1,245 f.p.s. Both Winchester and U.M.C. loaded both versions of these cartridges with their different bullet weights. (Note the drop in catalog velocity from 1875……no doubt due to the improvement in chronographs during that period of time.)

In 1904, U.M.C. changed the bullet weight of their .44-40 cartridge back to 200 grs. but Winchester continued to offer the 217gr. bullet in their .44-40 cartridge for several more years until they also standardized on the 200 gr. bullet for both the .44 W.C.F. and .44-40 cartridges.


You don’t need the “c.” (circa) for the dates of the shift from 200 grains to 217 grains by UMC, which was done January 2, 1886 or the shift back to a 200 grain bullet, which was April 7, 1904.

The log is quite specific on those two actions by UMC.

John Moss