Headstamp History

When perusing the headstamp in a cartridge case, we can usually determine the calibre and manufacturer. Military ammunition may also have a code to tell us where and when the ammunition was manufactured.
Rimfire cases, due to their small size, usually have a letter to indicate the manufacturer and not much else. For many years, Winchester rimfire ammunition had the letter “H” for a headstamp.

I’m not certain of the manufacturing date, but the packaging in the picture was
definitely around in the 1970’s. The story behind the headstamp is an interesting
Oliver F. Winchester (who later founded the Winchester Repeating Arms
Company) was a shareholder in a company which made the lever action Volcanic
rifle. The company went bankrupt in 1857. Winchester bought the assets and
formed the New Haven Arms Company.
For various reasons, the Volcanic rifle needed some refinement to make it a
success. Winchester hired a master mechanic named Tyler Henry as factory
foreman. Henry redesigned the rifle and chambered it for a .44 rimfire cartridge
which became known as the .44 Henry. The .44 Henry had a 200 grain bullet
with a muzzle velocity of approx. 1025 fps.
The Henry Rifle was launched in 1860 and was made until 1866. With its lever
action and 16-shot tubular magazine under the barrel, the Henry was the
forerunner of subsequent Winchester rifles. The Henry rifle saw limited service
during the American Civil War.
Owing to Tyler Henry’s efforts, Winchester rimfire cartridges carried the “H”
headstamp for over a century.
Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot!

By Anthony Mitchell

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