No Headstamp 44 WCF Cartridge

I am not a collector but I finally acquired an older 44 cartridge for the Winchester Model of 1873. I still do not know a manufactured time frame but I am thinking late 1870’s or very early 1880’s. It has an exposed groove very much like the 1875 catalog shows. Can anyone shed some light on a more accurate date?


Hi Bryan,
Thanks for showing it. What do you know about the other unheadstamped empty cases in the 3rd picture? The higher cartridge looks less high than the bullet in the second picture, but it could just be an illusion.
Anyway, the only one I have, close to the head on yours, is a Pheonix paper bullet shot load. (I think.) So yours may be from the Pheonix Cartridge Co.
Vic and Pete will probably give you a better assessment, but that’s my guess.


Hello Dan!

I picked up about 26 empty cases almost by accident along with the WRA’s when I purchased an older unmarked 44-40 two die set. The rims are sitting on top of the cardboard giving an illusion they are taller than they really are. I still don’t know if they are folded head or solid. The head appears to be a bit more “rounded” than the loaded case. Here are a few more shots of the empties along with some boxes I made.

I think the OP was correct. I think it is an early .44-40 cartridge from the 1870s, before headstamps became necessary.

The 44 40 and most other U.S. commercial centerfire cartridges lacked headstamps until, broadly speaking, the mid 1880s. Jack

Looking at the primer, it seems to have a flat spot rather than being all rounded. Is this the sign of an early handload or did early primers have flat spots?

I have been working on this web page, I just don’t want to be mis-leading or have too many errors.

John Kort dissected an early WRA cartridge a while back. In the photo, it is the bullet on the left. The bullet to it’s right looks identical but is a heeled bullet from an early unheadstamped case.

Just for kicks, Ed Harris designed the 43-200Q (bullet on far right) and it looks very much like it but measurements are for over sized bores.


Here are some of the 1880’s maybe early 90’s bullets John Kort pulled from WRA headstamped cartridges. Replaced the dead primers, bullet lube and poured the black powder back in. He put 40 shots inside a 4" circle at 100 yards with them.!