The 44-Shot Shotgun

A few years ago, my uncle gave me my great grandmother's old Stevens Model 101 44-Shot. The barrel is 26 1/8" long and it's chambered for the .44-40 shot cartridge, although ball cartridges could also be used. The gun is a single shot tip up action and the lever on the bottom opens the breech and also serves as the trigger guard. These guns were made from 1914 to 1920.

The 44 shot was mainly used in America, while the .410 (12mm) was used in Europe. Eventually the .410 caught on and the .44 shot fell into disuse. There's no commercially available ammunition for the gun since it's an obsolete caliber, but there is a way to make your own.

Stevens Model 101
Stevens Model 101

I bought some once fired .44-40 brass and a set of dies and got to work. My reloading book said to use Federal #150 large pistol primers. I reloaded the shells with 6.8 grains of Unique and put in about 1/3 an ounce of #7 shot. I used 44 caliber Speer shot capsules to hold the shot. The original shot capsules were made of paper, but these plastic ones were more convenient. I'll have to make a few paper ones and see how they do.

44 Shot Shell
Homemade .44 Shot Shell

After making 50 shells for it, I had to take it out and shoot a few. It's funny how little time it takes to shoot up stuff that takes hours to reload. I taped up 4 sheets of paper and tacked it to a stake. Then I backed off to about 15 yards and aimed for the center. The pattern is pretty good, although a bit thin in the bottom right. I'm not sure if that was the gun, or my lack of practice with this load. I suspect the bigger holes were caused by shards of plastic from the shot capsule.

44 Shot Pattern
15 Yards, 6.8 Grains of Unique, 1/3 ounce of #7 shot