Need help identifying .44 Henry cartridge


Wondering if anyone can give me an estimate of the year/date this cartridge was in production? Have searched the forum, but have not seen another Henry .44 that looks just like this one. Several of these cartridges were found on an archaeological survey in NW AZ. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.


That appears to be a raised headstamp, although pictures have a tendency to make impressed headstamps look raised. Assuming it is raised, it could have been produced from the mid 1860s to the late 1880s. Of course, it could have been fired and dropped many years after it was produced. It appears to have been fired with a Henry or Model 1866 rifle based on the double firing pin stikes 180 degrees apart.

What’s the length of the case, measured over towards the edge to avoid the bulged head?


The length of the case is approximately 3/4 inch. The cartridges were found with associated pottery sherds, suggesting that the cartridges were used during the Indian Wars in the SW. Another collector who emailed suggested the following:

“You have a very typical 44 Henry rimfire case that has been fired in either a Henry or an 1866 Winchester rifle or carbine. I have metal-detected many Indian War battle sites in the westen states and have found hundreds of these. They are typically found in 3 lengths - .82”, .90", and .96". It appears you have the short one, which is the most common.

They were first manufactured in 1860. Indians used them extensively up until the late 1880s or early 1890s. They were manufactured into the early 1900s so there is no way to date them any closer than that. Most that are found at battle sites are from the 1870s, such as the battle of the Little Bighorn, where they were the primary cartridge used by the Indians."


What about a .44 short RF which has been fired in a Henry or '66 Winchester? It does look stubby to be even the short version of the Henry cartridge. Jack


Both Henry and 1866 have double rimfire striker.


After trying to scale off the size of the cartridge case I think it is likely the standard .44 Henry short case, running typically about .8 to .82 in. long, somewhat longer than your estimate. Beginning date of manufacture would be about 1863 and running to a cut-off date of perhaps 1873 or '74. By the mid-1870s the standard cartridge case used by Winchester in this caliber was the “long” case of about 7/8 in. average OA length. The twin firing pin indentations and the dome-like bulge on the base are typical of a cartridge fired in either the Henry or the 1866 Winchester. The Winchester was basically an improved Henry, and in turn replaced by the 1873 Winchester. Jack