.45 rifle case with '3' headstamp

Does anyone know if it has ever been determined what the ‘3’ headstamp was for that is occasionally found on .45 rifle cartridges and cases. I picked this one up in a recent auction:

It measures 2.3" long, between a .45-70 and a .45-90. Its other dimensions (rim, base and mouth) put it in the 45-70/45-90/45 Sharps & Remington family of cartridges. Robert Buttweiler had two cartridges with this headstamp in his auction catalog, one an overstamp of a Winchester R W 4 79 headstamped .45-70 (Vol XI1, No 2, Lot 350) and the other a .45 2 7/8" Sharps (Vol XI, No 2, Lot 339).

It is interesting to note that the 3’s on each of the cases are the same size and font, and they also appear to be oriented exactly the same, so it is not likely that they were stamped using a hand held die.

This case should match .45-78 Wolcott, 2 3/10" Case dimensions (not the shorter 2 2/10" case).

Some rare Sharps, Remington & Ballard all steel cased cartridges are also known with different stamped numbers (5, 8 , 14 & 18; probably more).

As far as I know, there’s no documented answer, just speculative explanations. It’s possible that the steel cased ones were made for a numbered cased set. However, I don’t think this applies to the “3” headstamped rounds

I have it in a .45-105-550 Remington loading, the 2 7/8" case.
Remington’s No. 3 Creedmoor, the No 3 Remington-Hepburn, the No. 3 Remington Hunter or the Remington No. 3 High Powered could all have been offered for this 2 7/8" case.
That said, I can’t say for sure “who done it” but it would appear by someone offering cases for Remington’s No. 3 rifles.
The cases, I’d GUESS, AGAIN GUESS, appear to have been made by Remington or perhaps late maunfacture Sharps.

ANYONE — PLEASE Feel free to correct this GUESS.

Hope this is of some help.

Thanks for the responses.

The one case shown above from R. Buttweiler’s catalog with the R W headstamp is obviously a Winchester product, and the other case he had he described as appearing to have been made by Winchester. Mine looks to me to be more Winchester or Sharps than Remington.

Your Remington No 3 hypothesis is intriguing.


I’m not smart enough to have a hypothesis but I do have a guess. Mine’s not a GUESS like Pete had, but a simpler guess.

You know how the military is fond of assigning a number to everything. Maybe they are related to the 1882 Trials of Magazine Arms. ?? Did Winchester have an entry and what was it chambered for??? Maybe Pitman Notes has some info.


Are we to assume you are suggesting that these cartridge cases might have been used in gun # 3 in the 1882 trials??


I guess, yes, that’s kinda what we are assuming. I don’t have the time to go thru the Board’s Report but it may be worth a look if all else fails.

I have seen some of the barrels and rifles from the 1872 Trials and they were all marked with a number. For some, a number was the only ID. You had to go to the report to see exactly what “No. 16” was.

Even if Winchester did not have an entry in the 1882 Trials it’s very likely that they made ammunition for some of them.

But, as I said, it’s only a guess. Rather than lose sleep over that case, you can just mail it to me and quit worrying about it. With the hurricane season rapidly approaching you’d best be thinking about battening the hatches and stocking the shelter with Jim Beam and crackers.


Having looked through more of my collection, I’m pretty sure the one of mine is a Remington made case. I agree yours does look Winchester although it’s hard to see the profile/plane of the head it does look Winchester with the flat center and slight edge to the rim. Mine is more evenly rounded, but not the typical, very round, Remington head. And I very much doubt, a Winchester case, at least not like any other Winchester case I have.

So my guess is not that these were all manufactured by Remington, but were perhaps to be used in the No. 3 rifles. Perhaps modified and sold by some period retailer, hardware store, or the like? – I’d guess, I wasn’t too clear about stating that guess.

If for a trials weapon, why use previously headstamped brass? It would seem that could only cause confusion.

Ray; the reason for the capitalised guess is because I sometimes get into trouble not emphatically stating it’s just a GUESS!

The Jim Beam & crackers does sound good!

Why the crackers??

One problem with the 1882 trials gun # three guess is that the known cases vary in length, including the 2 1/10", 2 3/10" and 2 7/8" cases that are discussed here. I suppose the shorter cases would work fine in the longer chamber, but I don’t think that would have been done. Perhaps rifle number three came cased with a set of at least three detachable barrels ;-)

Just received my new Remington Collector Journal. In the RemShots section (Q & A) someone asked about the history of a Hepburn Long Range Military rifle. As part of the answer the moderator states “the original Remington cases normally had rounded head and were sometimes stamped “3” which was the Rem. Hepburn action designation” This fits what Pete DeCoux stated in his answer but may not fit the case pictured in the question.