A problem with which those investigating a crime are frequently confronted is to determine the time which has probably elapsed since the firing of a shot. A weapon may be discovered which may, or may not, have been used by the criminal. The barrel is clearly "fouled" and so the question arises, is it possible by an examination of the barrel to ascertain with any degree of accuracy the period of time which has elapsed since that weapon was fired ?
Before making any attempt to answer this question it will be better if we consider first all the factors which are involved.
When any firearm is discharged the barrel is fouled both by the passage of the projectile along the bore and by certain products of combustion being deposited on the surface of the bore. If the bore is not cleaned the surface will become corroded with the lapse of time. This corrosion is really rust. Now rusting is not quite such a simple matter as is popularly supposed in spite of the apparent ease with which it occurs when least desired. But there are certain facts connected with the formation of rust which are beyond dispute. These are that moisture must be present; that the more moisture present the greater the formation of rust; that the formation of rust is helped by the presence of an acid; and that rusting is retarded by the presence of an alkali.
When the bore of any firearm rusts the necessary moisture is provided by the air, which varies in degree
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