Centerfire Multiball Cartridges

Credit: Paul Smith -

I have been using CCI .22 long rifle shot shells to dispatch garden pests fairly successfully this spring and summer. That is, until now. My arch nemesis, the chipmunk, shrugs off the anemic shot shells at any distance over seven yards. In fact I was sure the one who was eating our strawberries was wearing body armor. Anyway, I thought it might be time to upgrade the arsenal with with either a new gun or new ammo. While researching “ballistic lethality in chipmunk tissue”, I got sidetracked leading me to some old “Multiball’ loadings used in centerfire cartridges.

After reading Nathaniel F.’s Ballistics 201 series this weekend, I was especially interested in energy transfer. Given the same velocity, does one projectile of a specific weight perform differently than three projectiles that add up to the same weight, assuming they all make contact with the target?

And what about the barrel’s rate of twist? Does a Multiball loading require an especially high rate of twist to stabilize the short ball projectiles? Does it matter when you are shooting at ranges between 25-50 yards?

Lastly, can you successfully suppress a Multiball load Without risking damage to your suppressor? (I told you guys that I like suppressors, right?)

A bit of Multiball cartridge history from the International Ammunition Association:

Starting in 1901, Frankford Arsenal began loading multiball loadings for use in federal prisons. The first 1,000 rounds were loaded for guards at federal prisons. An additional 29,060 rounds were made in 1902.

Beginning in 1902 production of multiball cartridges (in both .45 and .30 cal) was increased because of an order from Washington requiring each post to keep on hand 10 rounds per soldier for use in case of riot. Commercial cases were used and as a result, mixed headstamps can be found within the same box.

During WW1 it was necessary to guard military installations. Two million rounds were manufactured by Remington for this purpose.


Remington manufactured commercial .357Mag Multiball loadings at one point, but I couldn’t find any muzzle velocity data.




I didn’t have any luck finding this Muktiball handbook.

If you are a reloader, there is some good information here from John Goins:

Multiple ball loads are fun to shoot and plink with and may have an application for small game hunting and pest control.

In my experience, their effectiveness is limited to no more than 50 yards and sometimes, less due to their shape and low ballistic coefficient. They lose velocity fast. Because of shape, round balls are also prone to ricochet more easily.

2 – .457” Round Balls (Bumped to .459”)

285 grains total payload

.45/70 case

12.0 grains Unique

1 – .040” Card wad

Velocity…1198 FPS

25 Yards – 100% hits on 8” X 10” target

50 Yards – 25% hits on 8 X 10” target


3 – .457” Round balls (bumped to .459”)

427.5 grain payload

.45/70 case

12.0 grains Unique

1 – .040” Card wad

Velocity…1112 FPS

25 Yards – 100% hits on 8” X 10” target 6” pattern

50 Yards – 67% hits on 8” X 10” target

If using two balls, seat the first ball until there’s about 1⁄4” of case space at the case mouth. Then seat the 2nd ball about 2/3” of the way in the case and crimp. Then wipe the alox off and store.

If you’re going whole hog and using the 3 ball 45/70 “hockshop” load, seat the first two balls until they’re 1⁄4” below the case mouth, seat the 3rd ball 2/3s of the way in the case and crimp.

(Reload data has not been verified. Use at your own risk.)

Does anyone know if there are commercial Multiball cartridge still available? Is it worth my time or should I invest in a .410 shotgun and be done with it?


International Ammunition Association Forum –

International Ammunition Association – –

Round Ball Loads –


LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete


  • mechamaster

    It is like having 3 shotgun slug-buckshot ( buckslugs ?? ) hybrid in .357

  • CTFish

    Use an air rifle

    • Giolli Joker

      And there are a few suppressed ones on the market, just to make sure they get “Pete’s stamp of approval”.

      • Pete – TFB Writer

        I had a .25 Daystate PCP for a few years. I took woodchucks, pigeons, chipmunks, squirrels and starlings with that laser. Then I found the NFA, and she was sold off.

  • BattleshipGrey

    I don’t know the layout of your yard, but I’m having a hard time believing that you don’t own a gun that can dispatch nuisance animals. But hey, who am I to say you shouldn’t buy a new gun?

    Seriously though, as interesting a topic of multiballs is, especially the history, I think you’re over thinking it. A single .22lr or 9mm projectile should be able to dispatch any small game that’s eating your garden. As you suggest, if a single projectile won’t cut it, go for the .410, it would make it a little easier and faster for quick-moving targets.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      I have a few, but the garden is at a weird angle where my closest neighbor is down range. I need something that dies out after 50 yards.

      Any other angle and the suppressed .22LR would be my choice.

  • Nicholas C

    I’m surprised you haven’t got a suppressed .22LR bolt action to dispatch pests.

    Have you suppressed the CCI shot shells? I haven’t tried.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      I have the suppressed 10/22, but the angle of the the garden puts a neighbors house about 100yds down range.

      I want to try suppressing the CCI shells, but everything I have read says not to… Sounds like a challenge.

      • Nicholas C

        The Low Velocity were still rather noisy compared to a bolt action suppressed 22.

        Take a look at my article on the Ruger 10/22 integrally suppressed vs my Ruger American Rimfire suppressed. The American Rimfire is sooooo much more quiet. The 10/22 action is noisy.

        Silencershop is sending me an Innovative Arms integrally suppressed M&P15-22. Supposedly it vents super sonic rounds to be sub sonic. We shall see how it compares to my MP15-22 suppressed with sub sonic ammo.

        Go get a bolt action 22lr rifle with threaded barrel. You will get a fit of giggles shooting it suppressed with sub sonic ammo.

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          I’m thinking a Charger built with a PWS Summit straight pull action…

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      If/when my Salvo clears, I’ll be using some of those low velocity/noise shells you highlighted the other day.

  • Bub

    From a practical standpoint.410 would be the way to go.

  • Jsim

    Lehigh defense makes or made a 45-70 that could be considered a multiball cartridge

    • Giolli Joker

      45-70 sized chipmunks are called capybaras. ?

  • Jeff

    Or just use a pistol shotshell load with big shot, such as the CCI Big 4 loads. No buckshot holes in your fence/shed/neighbor’s property.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Thanks. Ordering!

  • gunsandrockets

    I think multi-ball cartridges are fascinating.

  • LG

    Just use a Hammond Game Getter for single ball loadings at air-rifle muzzle report.

  • Data Venia

    I’d step up to a centerfire shotshell and I’d be very surprised if that didn’t dispatch the critter.

    Your other option are so called “gallery loads”, George Nonte was fond of these though he called them “ultra light loads”. He used them to dispatch pigeons inside a barn. Using a once fired brass (so it is matched to the chamber), a new primer and a couple of grains of fast burning powder to drive a single buckshot that was bore sized, he could use a regular centerfire rifle to fire a short range low powered round to deal with pests.

  • DIR911911 .

    ballistics gel and video . . . or it didn’t happen 🙂

  • Biker6666

    Get a cat.

    • Evan

      An outdoor cat will be sure to keep any yard chipmunk free. I never once saw a chipmunk out back until my cat died a few years ago. Now they’re all over.

      • phauxtoe

        you most likely have song Birds too! most cats love to kill those too!

        • Evan

          Always had those. My cat wasn’t much of a bird hunter. Rabbits, squirrels, mice, rats, he killed them all (it’s always fun finding a half eaten rabbit in your yard), but I never found a dead bird, and always had them there.

    • Bierstadt54

      I have a cat. She is not much of a hunter, but when she does catch a mole or a chipmunk she brings them inside the house to show me. Almost always alive. At that point she considers her job done. Cats are great pest catchers in theory, but your mileage may vary. BTW, for catching live chipmunks your cat has brought into the house and let loose and promptly lost all interest in, I suggest a blowgun. It doesn’t kill them (immediately), but it does pin them to in place for your retrieval convenience.

      • Biker6666

        Our cuddly bundle of fur solved our vole problem, but also wiped out our lizard, snake and rabbit populations. The neighbors dogs and cats avoided the surrounding area for the 17 years of her rule.

      • Caliber50

        Best answer I’ve heard yet! Lol too!
        BTW : did you borrow my cat? Waaaaay to similar.

  • Kyle

    Make one of those thermite launchers that was posted on here a while back. That will show those damn chipmunks you mean business.

  • Old Gringo

    Excellent and entertaining article..First, just buy the 410, you can pick up a signal shot for $100 and like a ball peen hammer, you don’t use them often, but they are always a handy tool…I own a 410 in the Marlin 1895 and load the 3 ball loads in brass cases and do the same for the Marlin Guide Gun in 45-70, both a hoot to shoot. I also load a 2 ball load in 44 mag, I use 2, .433 round balls, which weigh a total of 240 grains, the standard weight for a 44 mag ammo….With 10 grains of Unique, I get about 950 fps out of a 2 inch 44 mag. These also are a hoot and put the rounds on target at 25 yards, about the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock position but about 7 inches apart…absolutely excellent in my view at I can knock down 8 inch gongs almost every time. I have also used the Speer shot shells in 38 and 44 with size 4 shot, not good patterns, but they do work and it would only take one for a chipmunk….I do have suppressors but would not risk one to a multi-ball load, too much risk of an end strike in my view…..or, buy a bolt action 22 and cheap suppressor….in mine they are as quiet as the human voice, like a BB gun and the neighbors or wife will never know you are outside shooting…..

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Excellent. Thank you!

    • Nicholas C

      I concur with the bolt gun .22lr and a good .22 can. Also if you wet the suppressor it is stupid quiet!!!

      My favorite pistol is my PPK/S in .22LR. The barrel is so short that super sonic loads are still sub sonic out of the can.

  • Tess

    Don’t forget the multiball used in the QSPR.

  • Renegade

    Get a heavy threaded barrel on a 96/22; Very, very quiet with a suppressor.

  • Bierstadt54

    For suburban pests, I doubt there is any option that beats a quiet air rifle.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Rocked a PCP for a few years.. Deadly accurate.

  • Uncle Festet

    If you want to cause a Chipmunk apocalypse, do a YouTube search for bucket traps.

    (My town would form on discharging a firearm in our suburban area)

    • BigFED

      My RWS 34 is louder than almost any .22 RF. Use .22 short, if you can find any or a BB/CB cap.

  • Vizzini

    It’s just a frickin’ chipmunk. Can’t you hit it with an ordinary 40 gr. .22 LR round?

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Yeah, the angle is no good on the garden. I may try baiting them into backstop areas.

  • The bedside gun on my wife’s side of the bed is an 18″ Mossberg .410 pump loaded with buckshot; that’s roughly the same as 3 hits from a hot loaded .38spl LRN in a very tight group at inside-the-house ranges, seven times if necessary.

    For small critters, pretty much nothing beats .22LR and a few extra seconds to aim for the head.

  • Kivaari

    We rescue the chipmunks from the cats. If I killed one, I’d get killed.

  • fuddleton

    Wait how do you make ammo cross sections without ruining the cartridge?

  • straw

    get a “rat zapper” and a bag of peanuts. don’t waste your time hunting chipmunks.

  • rayward

    .45 balls for a chipmunk? The load probably outweighs the target! Slightly more practical than teaching the strawberries kung-fu…

    Think I’d use some variant of air gun.

  • Ojas

    Garden pests? So you’re killing innocent animals for no reason but the kill them.

    • Mr SNS


    • carlcasino

      Until you have had serious repair work done BECAUSE of innocent animals you are preaching to the wrong choir.

  • Mr. Saturday Night Special

    Has anyone seen a copy of Matthew Collins Multiball book?

    I’d love to get a copy for myself.

    Mr Saturday Night Special

    • Matt Collins

      I had posted a comment earlier which was deleted or not approved I guess? Its my book, and although its not really available for retail sale, I have it for sale in a rotating auction at Gunbroker. Just search there for multiball

  • dickG

    Perhaps this fellow can be of assistance?
    28mm Revolver