UMC 44-40 with funny bullet


This bullet has 2 cuts located just above the groove opposite to each other. Visually comparing them, I think there were not factory induced, but rather home made. But why? What’s the purpose? In the 2nd photo, when both cuts are shown, they look like another groove.


They could be loading “jams” lever action rifles can be a bit tough on feeding short rounds. The angle from the lifter to the chamber can be quite steep.


Another collector wrote the following to me:

I have some bullets just like that one. I dug them at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana. It seems that Gen Custer had a revolver with a special cylinder that left those marks when he unloaded it. So, you have some very special cartridges.

OR, the marks could have been made by someone trying to pull the bullet with a pair of wire cutters. I have a bucket full of them too.

Use whichever story you like best.


I don’t believe the Custer angle is correct. There has always been considerable historical debate as to what revolver he carried at the LBH, with the most likely candidates being either a Schofield or some British revolver of the Webley Bulldog type. Neither would have been chambered in .44-40, but regardless, I cannot imagine any revolver indenting a bullet in that way. I have no opinion about the cause of indentations on the bullet shown.


I suspect whoever wrote Vlad that answer about "custer"or “pulling the bullet” was being facetious with the “Custer” answer. “Use whatever story you like the best.”


I think actually sksvlad is right about the wire cutters. The primer is struck. I hadn’t really noticed that before and the bullet appears partly out. Most people when they get a missfire start trying to pull the bullet although quite why is debatable.
The other collector got it right IMO, wire cutters.


Vince - I agree that the bullet looks like it was gripped with pretty heavy force either in wire cutters, pliers with a very narrow gripping surface (I have several pairs of pliers with gripping surfaces that would not be much wider than that), or was shut in a vise with very narrow jaws.

The "Custer’ part, I am sure, was meant to be capricious, while the second “choice” answer was a good guess on what caused this.

By the way, while I almost never have a misfire with a reload of mine, if I do have a defective primer, I pull the bullet (properly), dump the powder and decap it. Why waste a perfectly good bullet and case?


My take on it is that defective primers are a lot less common than they used to be. Or maybe our reloading techniques are better. However years ago, and that is when this round was produced they did happen. The primer looks well, and multiply, struck.
I doubt that Custer would have had the time or the inclination to start pulling bullets. That just a joke.
Mind you I have seen weaker evidence as provenance. Maybe somebody will believe it.Look out for it in some auction soon for $1000