Electrical Guns

The 1970s saw the introduction of the first electrical gun the Taser. The Taser is a device that uses electrical current to immobilize victims without killing them.26 Superficially resembling a flashlight, it has a gray plastic body in which there is a flashlight bulb and lens. Each cassette contains two barbs connected to the case by approximately 18 ft of wire. The weapon is aimed and fired by pointing the flashlight and pressing the trigger. This procedure allows a spark to ignite the...

Suicides Due to Long Arms

In suicides with long arms (rifles and shotguns), just as with handguns, the preferred sites are the head, chest, and abdomen, in that order. There is, however, very little difference in the percentage of head wounds between the sexes (Table 14.2). Thus, 69 of the men and 65 of the women had entrance wounds of the head.3 The percentage of people shooting themselves in the head with rifles and shotguns is not as great as with handguns. This may be due to the fearsome reputation of these weapons....

M Carbine X mm

The .30 M-1 Carbine cartridge is neither a rifle cartridge nor a pistol cartridge. The round was originally developed for the U.S. military M-1 Carbine. Commercially, this round is loaded with a 110-gr. soft- or hollow-point bullet. The military round is loaded with a 110-gr. 7 g full metal-jacketed bullet. Muzzle velocity is around 1975 ft s 579 m s muzzle energy 955 ft-lb 1173 J . The M-1 Carbine should not be confused with the M-1 Rifle the Garand , which was chambered for the .30-06...

Black Powder Firearms

Black powder weapons, on rare occasions, are involved in fatal shootings. Most of these cases involve percussion revolvers. As these weapons have rifled barrels, rifling marks will appear on the spherical or conical bullets fired from them. In addition, the loading rammer used to seat the bullet in the chamber may leave markings on the bullet of sufficient clarity and with individual characteristics to make ballistics comparison possible. Figure 2.9 shows a .44-caliber ball removed from the arm...

DNA Typing of Tissue on Bullets

A bullet found at a scene may be linked to the specific individual through which the bullet had passed by examining tissue deposited on the bullet. This is possible even if no tissue is visible on macroscopic examination of the bullet and it is full metal-jacketed. As a bullet passes through a body, tissue is deposited on its surface even if the tissue is not visible. The tissue can be removed by swabbing the bullet the DNA replicated and DNA fingerprinting performed by short tandem repeat STR...

Flechettes

During the Vietnam war, the United Statesmilitaryusedammunitionloaded with steel flechettes. A flechette is a small arrow-shaped projectile with a metal tail fin. It is made in both 8- and13-gr. form. The8-gr. flechette, which is the more common type, measures 1 mm in diameter by approximately 2.7 cm in length. Flechettes were fired from 90-mm recoilless rifles, 90-mm guns, the 105-mm howitzer, and the 2.75-in. air-to-ground rocket. The 90-mm gun fired from 4100 to 5600 8-gr. steel flechettes...

Breitenecker Shotgun

New York Winchester Press, 1973. 2. Keith, E. Shotguns by Keith. New York Bonanza Book, 1967. 3. Labisky, W. The ever-changing shotshell story. Gun Digest. Northfield, IL Digest Books Inc., 1973. 4. Franovich, J. 20-gauge filler wads used in 12-gauge shotgun shells. AFTE Journal 28 2 92-94, 1996. 6. Harruff, R. C. Comparison of contact shotgun wounds of the head produced by different gauge shotguns. J. Forensic Sci. 40 5 801-804, 1995. 7. Dowling, G. P., Dickinson A....

References

B., Atkins, V. J., and Fackler. M. L. Velocity necessary for a BB to penetrate the eye an experimental study using pig's eyes. Wound Ballistics Review 1997 3 1 10-12. 2. Smith, W. H. B. Gas, Air and Spring Guns of the World. Harrisburg, PA Military Service Publishing Company, 1957. 3. Beyer, J. C. ed . Wound Ballistics. Washington, D.C. Office of the Surgeon General, Department of the Army, 1962. 4. Lawrence, H. S. Fatal non-powder firearm wounds case report and...

Range Determination in Decomposed Bodies

Gunshot Wounds Images Caliber

Determination as to whether a gunshot wound in a decomposing body is either close-range or distant can be difficult for a number of reasons. First are the changes of decomposition itself. Decomposition results in a blackish discoloration of the skin and subcutaneous tissue, which can either simulate or conceal soot. There is slippage of the epidermis, which can produce complete loss of powder tattooing and soot. Blood around the wound clots and dries out. Fragments of this desiccated blood can...

Gunshot

Best Pictures

Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques OllklOIIAT Written by the nation's hIIN HII I foremost authority on fillH11O gunshot wounds and Ml Il II N IIX forensic techniques as they relate to firearm injuries, Gunshot second edition Wounds Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques, Second Edition provides critical information on gunshot wounds and the weapons and ammunition used to inflict them. The book describes practical aspects of ballistics wound ballistics the classification of various wounds caused by handguns, rifles, and shotguns autopsy technique and procedure and laboratory analysis relating to weapons and gunshot evidence.

Wounds from Shotguns

Shotguns differ from rifles and handguns in construction, ammunition, ballistics, and use. Rifles and handguns fire a single projectile down a rifled barrel. Shotguns have a smooth bore. Although they can fire a single projectile, they are usually employed to fire multiple pellets. Rifled shotgun barrels, intended for use with slugs, are available. Shotguns may be autoloaders, pump slide action , over unders, side-by-side, bolt action or single shot. Some shotguns intended for military and or...

Blunt Force Injuries from Firearms

Gunshot Injuries Pictures

Occasionally a firearm will be used not only to shoot a person but to beat that individual. Thus, individuals will be seen with evidence of pistol whipping. This usually takes the form of semicircular or triangular lacerations of the scalp or forehead produced by the butt of the gun. Underlying depressed Figure 9.4 A Triangular laceration with underlying depressed skull fracture caused by pistol butt. B Rectangular lacerations of scalp from magazine well and base of magazine of 9-mm pistol....

Ammunition

Hollow Point Gunshot Wounds Photos

A small-arms cartridge consists of a cartridge case, a primer, propellant gunpowder , and a bullet or projectile Figure 1.14 . Blank cartridges are sealed with paper disks instead of a bullet or have a crimped neck. Dummy cartridges have neither a primer nor powder. Some dummy cartridges contain inert granular material that simulates powder. Cartridge cases are usually made of brass, a composition of 70 copper and 30 zinc. Less commonly, they are made of steel or aluminum. Zinc and Figure 1.14...

Small Arms

Pistol With Tips Barrel

There are five general categories of small arms handguns, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, and machine guns. There are four basic types of handguns 4. Auto-loading pistols automatics Single-shot pistols. A single-shot pistol has one firing chamber integral with the barrel, which must be loaded manually each time the weapon is to be fired Figure 1.1A . Derringers. They are a variant of single-shot pistols. Derringers are small pocket firearms having multiple barrels, each of which is loaded...

Distant Gunshot Wounds

Caliber Gunshot Wound

In distant wounds, the only marks on the target are those produced by the mechanical action of the bullet in perforating the skin. Figure 4.15 A Two contact wounds of chest with deposit of powder soot above the wound entrances B top view of .22 caliber starter pistol barrel with vent visible arrow . Figure 4.15 A Two contact wounds of chest with deposit of powder soot above the wound entrances B top view of .22 caliber starter pistol barrel with vent visible arrow .

Bloody Bodies and Bloody Scenes

Physical Activity Following Gunshot Wounds Wounds Seen in the Emergency Room Minimal Velocities Necessary to Perforate Skin Bullet Emboli Gunshot Wounds of the Brain Bone Chips Secondary Fractures of the Skull Shape of the Bullet Tracks Point of Lodgement of the Bullet Intrauterine Gunshot Wounds Lead Poisoning from Retained Bullets Location of Fatal Gunshot Wounds Behavior of Ammunition and Gunpowder in Fires Blunt-Force Injuries from Firearms Multiple Gunshot Wounds Through One Entrance...

Suicides Due to Handguns

Suicide Gunshot Imprint

The location of the self-inflicted wound varies depending on the type of the weapon, the sex of the victim, and whether the victim is right- or left-handed. In individuals who shoot themselves with handguns, the most common sites for the entrance wound are the head 81 , the chest 17 , and the abdomen 2 , in that order Table 14.1 . There is some difference by sex Table 14.1 in that a smaller percentage of women 72 shoot themselves in the head than do men 83.5 . Table 14.1 Sites of Suicidal...

243 Winchester Wounds To Humans

Lead Snowstorm Xray Rifle

Figure 7.22 A Fired Russian 7.62 x 39 soft-point bullet with plastic wad extruding from base. B Chest x-ray of individual shot six times in chest with this ammunition and showing lead snowstorm. Figure 7.22 A Fired Russian 7.62 x 39 soft-point bullet with plastic wad extruding from base. B Chest x-ray of individual shot six times in chest with this ammunition and showing lead snowstorm. The .223 Remington cartridge was introduced in the Armalite AR-15 rifle the precursor of the M-16 in 1957. It...

M16 Bullet Wounds

M16 Rifle The Head Wound

Figure 14.5 Lacerations of palm and fifth finger from gas escaping from cylinder gap of .357 Magnum revolver. Hand was around cylinder at time of discharge. producing a wound of the forehead that had all the characteristics of a primary contact wound Figure 14.6 . In the head, the most common site for a handgun entrance wound is the temple. Although most right-handed individuals shoot themselves in the right temple and left-handed individuals in the left temple, this pattern is not absolute. In...

Discharge of a Weapon

Black Powder Muzzle Flash

Now that we have attained a basic knowledge of firearms and ammunition, let us consider the sequence of events that occurs when one brings the two elements together. Pulling the trigger causes release of the firing pin. This strikes the primer, crushing it, igniting the primer composition, and producing an intense flame. The flame enters the main chamber of the cartridge case through one or more vents, igniting the powder and producing a large quantity of gas and heat. This gas, which may be...

Intermediate Range Wounds

Tattoo Gunshot Wound

An intermediate-range gunshot wound is one in which the muzzle of the weapon is away from the body at the time of discharge yet is sufficiently close so that powder grains emerging from the muzzle strike the skin producing powder tattooing this is the sine qua non of intermediate-range gunshot wounds. In addition to the powder tattooing, there may be blackening of the skin or material around the entrance site from soot produced by combustion of the propellant. The size and density of the area...

Intermediary Targets

Muscular Men With Bullet Wound Chest

If a centerfire rifle bullet passes through an intermediary target, such as a wall or door, before striking an individual, the severity of the wound produced may be much greater than if the same bullet had not perforated the target. If the intermediary target is of sufficient thickness and resistance, the bullet will destabilize be deformed or even break up. Such a bullet when it strikes the victim will more readily lose kinetic energy, thus, possibly increasing the severity of the wound. This...

Wounds from Caliber Rimfire Weapons

High Speed Gunshot Wounds

The most popular and most commonly fired cartridge in the United States is the .22 rimfire. It is estimated that over 2.2 billion rounds of this ammunition are produced each year in the United States. There are four types of .22 rimfire ammunition the .22 Short, the .22 Long, the .22 Long Rifle and the .22 Winchester Magnum rimfire Figure 6.1 . The Flobert BB cap was the ancestor of the .22 rimfire cartridge. It was developed in 1845 by necking down a percussion cap and inserting a lead ball....

Frangible Bullets

Centerfire handgun ammunition, and to a lesser degree rifle ammunition, loaded with frangible bullets are now produced by all major ammunition manufacturers. The bullets are constructed of various materials depending on the manufacturer copper powder compressed under high pressure copper with a polymer binding agent powdered tungsten, copper and a nylon matrix twisted strands of zinc and powdered iron encased in an electroplated jacket. Kaplan et al. tested frangible ammunition composed of...

Interchangeability of Ammunition in Weapons

Special Shot Wounds

Recovery of a bullet of a particular caliber from a body does not necessarily indicate that the weapon used to fire this missile was of the same caliber as the cartridge in which the bullet was loaded. Certain weapons will chamber and fire ammunition of a caliber different from that for which they are chambered. Some automatic pistols are capable of firing revolver ammunition, and some revolvers can fire automatic ammunition. The .32-caliber revolver is well known for its ability to chamber and...

Guns Found in the Hand

Gunshot Wound Hand

Garavaglia and Talkington studied 498 cases of suicide from gunshot wounds 365 from handguns and 133 from long arms to determine in how many cases the weapon remained in the hand and what factors, if any, predisposed to this.6 They found that in 24.1 120 of the 498 cases, the gun was in the hand in 69 344 on or touching the body or within one foot of it, and in 7 34 of the cases greater than a foot away. Of the 34 guns more than a foot from the body, four 4 were long guns 3 of all long guns and...

ACP x SR

Hollow Point Gunshot Wounds Photos

The .32 ACP was introduced in 1899 by Fabriqu Nationale for the first successful semiautomatic pistol ever manufactured. It is used extensively in Figure 5.20 Entrance wound of back showing absence of abrasion ring. The bullet was a semi-jacketed .357 Magnum. Figure 5.20 Entrance wound of back showing absence of abrasion ring. The bullet was a semi-jacketed .357 Magnum. Europe. Czechoslovakia manufactured a submachine gun for it, the Scorpion. The cartridge is semirimmed and will chamber and...

Behavior of Ammunition and Gunpowder in Fires

Occasionally a story appears in a newspaper describing how fire fighters fought a blaze in a sporting goods store as bullets from exploding ammunition whizzed by and cans of gunpowder exploded around them. Although this type of story makes fine newspaper copy, it bears no relation to what actually happens in a fire involving ammunition and gunpowder. Smokeless powder is used in all modern cartridges. When it is ignited in a gun, heat, and gas are produced, both of which are confined initially...

Backspatter

Backspatter is the ejection of blood and tissue from a gunshot wound of entrance. While blood and tissue are often ejected from exit wounds, this is not the case for entrance wounds. The occurrence and degree of backspatter depends on the anatomical location of the wound, the range and the caliber of the weapon. A contact wound of the head from a large-caliber weapon is more likely to produce backspatter than a distant wound of the torso from a small-caliber weapon. Backspatter is important...

New Forms of Handgun Ammunition

Civil War Gunshot Wounds

Up to the mid 1960s, commercial handgun bullet design had not changed since the early 1900s. Handgun bullets were either full metal-jacketed or all lead. Lead bullets were roundnose or, less commonly, wadcutter or semi-wadcutter. Recovery of a full metal-jacketed bullet meant that the individual had been shot with an automatic pistol an all-lead bullet of medium or large caliber indicated a revolver a small lead bullet a .22. The 1960s saw the introduction of semi-jacketed soft-point and...

Gunshot Wounds Through Clothing

In gunshot wound cases, examination of the clothing is often as important as examination of the body. The interposing of clothing between the muzzle of the gun and the skin can alter the appearance of close-range gunshot wounds of the body. Clothing can prevent soot or powder, either completely or in part, from reaching the skin as well as producing a redistribution of this powder and soot. In hard contact wounds of the body, where soot and powder ordinarily would be driven completely into the...

Assault Rifles

The term Assault Rifle refers to an auto-loading rifle having a large capacity 20 rounds or more detachable magazine, capable of full automatic fire and firing an intermediate rifle cartridge. This term has been corrupted by the media, politicians and the bureaucracy to include virtually all self-loading weapons that look ugly and or mean. Weapons that fire pistol ammunition, e.g., Intratec Tec-9's, Cobray M-11's, are not assault rifles by virtue of their firing pistol ammunition and that they...

Distant Wounds

In distant gunshot wounds, the muzzle of the weapon is sufficiently far from the body so that there is neither deposition of soot nor powder tattooing. For centerfire handguns, distant gunshot wounds begin beyond 24 in. 60 cm from muzzle to target for cartridges loaded with flake powder and beyond 42 in. 105 cm for cartridges loaded with ball powder. The exact range depends on the particular weapon and ammunition and can be determined exactly only by experimentation with the specific weapon and...

An Introduction to the Classification of Gunshot Wounds

Contact Wounds Near-Contact Wounds Intermediate-Range Wounds Cylinder Gap Silencers Muzzle Brakes Compensators Flash Suppressors Gas Ports Vents Miscellaneous Powder Patterns Distant Gunshot Wounds Entrance Versus Exit Wounds Entrance Wounds Exit Wounds Miscellaneous Entrance Wounds Intermediary Targets Stippling Powder Tattooing and Pseudo-Powder Tattooing Caliber Determination from Entrance Wounds

The Forensic Autopsy in Gunshot Wound Cases

The forensic autopsy differs from the hospital autopsy in its objectives and relevance. In addition to determining the cause of death, the forensic pathologist must establish the manner of death natural, accidental, suicidal, homicidal or undetermined , the identity of the deceased if unknown, and the time of death or injury. The forensic autopsy may involve collection of evidence from the body, which can be used to either incriminate or exonerate an individual charged with a crime determine...

Physical Activity Following Gunshot Wounds

Gunshot The Head With Magnum

An individual may sustain a fatal gunshot wound and yet engage in physical activity.1-2 Experienced forensic pathologists, not uncommonly, encounter cases in which an individual, after incurring a fatal gunshot wound of the heart, is able to walk or run hundreds of yards and engage in strenuous physical activity prior to collapse and death. In one case seen by the author, a young man was shot in the left chest at a range of 3 to 4 ft with a 12-gauge shotgun firing 7 1 2 shot. The pellets...

Ab

Gunshot Clothing

Figure 12.3 Contact wound of body through two layers of cloth. Note the appearance of the wound in chest, which simulates a loose contact. Figure 12.3 Contact wound of body through two layers of cloth. Note the appearance of the wound in chest, which simulates a loose contact. Complete absorption of the soot and powder by clothing can occur in what ordinarily would be called an intermediate range wound. The resultant absence of powder tattooing on the skin results in an intermediate-range wound...

Contact Wounds

In contact wounds, the muzzle of the weapon is held against the surface of the body at the time of discharge. Contact wounds may be hard, loose, angled, or incomplete a variation of angled . Hard-Contact Wounds. In hard-contact wounds, the muzzle of the weapon is jammed hard against the skin, indenting it, so that the skin envelops the muzzle. In hard contact wounds, the immediate edges of the entrance are seared by the hot gases of combustion and blackened by the soot Figure 4.1 . This soot is...

Cytology on Bullets and Clothing

If a bullet passes through a body or intermediary target, or ricochets off a hard surface, fragments of tissue or target material may adhere to or be imbedded in the bullet. If the bullet is a hollow point, a relatively large wad of this material may be deposited in the cavity. Recovery and identification of foreign material from a bullet may identify the organs or intermediary object perforated or prove that the bullet was a ricochet. Nonorganic material, such as aluminum from a window screen...

Foreword

This Second Edition of Gunshot Wounds Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques, written by Vincent J. M. Di Maio, M.D. has been greatly expanded to include over 78 new photographs with references and discussions not covered in the original text. Dr. Di Maio has taken his personal observations, experience and research of gunshot wounds and firearms to create an extremely practical hands-on guide. Guns continue to be the most frequently used weapons in murder and...

Reaction Response Times in Handgun Shootings

Thoracic Gunshot Wounds

Sooner or later a medical examiner will become involved in a shooting where an individual claims to have shot at another individual facing them but, at autopsy, the gunshot wound is found to be in the side or back. The question then arises as to whether the victim, on seeing the gun pointed towards them, or reacting to another outside stimulus, would have had sufficient time to turn 90 to 180 degrees in the time from when the shooter initiated the shooting process and the bullet hit. Cases such...

Sympathetic Discharge of Rimfire Firearms

Shoulder With Bullet

In cheap .22 rimfire revolvers, sympathetic discharges may occur on firing. Sympathetic discharge occurs when, on firing a revolver, there is not only discharge of the cartridge stuck by the firing pin but also of a cartridge in an adjacent chamber. Such multiple discharges were quite common in percussion revolvers when a spark from a discharging round would ignite the black powder in other cylinders. In sympathetic discharge of .22 rimfire revolvers, discharge of a cartridge by the firing pin...

Wounds Seen in The Emergency Room

It is quite common for a pathologist at autopsy to discover gunshot wounds missed by the police at the scene or physicians in an emergency room. Emergency room physicians often miss head wounds because of long hair and back wounds because they fail to look at the patient's back. They also confuse entrances with exits. In a study of 46 cases of fatal multiple or exiting gunshot wounds by Collins and Lantz, 24 52.2 were misinterpreted by trauma specialists emergency medicine, trauma surgery and...

Blank Cartridge Injuries

A blank is a cartridge containing powder but no bullets or pellets. It is intended to produce noise. Blanks are generally loaded with ultra-fast burning powder that detonates rather than burns. The case itself may appear like any other case in this caliber or may have a rosette crimped end. The wad can cause injury to a person immediately in front of the gun. If the wad is removed and a bullet is substituted, pressure generated by the ultra-fast burning powder will explode the gun. A number of...

Caliber Determination from Entrance Wounds

The caliber of the bullet that caused an entrance wound in the skin cannot be determined by the diameter of the entrance. A .38-caliber 9-mm bullet can produce a hole having the diameter of a .32 caliber 7.65-mm bullet and vice versa. The size of the hole is due not only to the diameter of the bullet but also to the elasticity of the skin and the location of the wound. An entrance wound in an area where the skin is tightly stretched will have a diameter different from that of a wound in an area...

Suicides in General

Bullet Wound Head

Suicides in which multiple gunshot wounds are present are uncommon, but not rare. These wounds may involve only one area, e.g., the head, or multiple areas, such as the head and chest. Multiple gunshot wounds confined exclusively to the head are the least common, whereas those of the chest are the most common. A lack of knowledge of anatomy, flinching at the time the trigger is pulled, defective ammunition, ammunition of the wrong caliber, or just missing a vital organ, account for such...

M. Fackler Wound Ballistic 2011

R. Ballistic characteristics of wounding agents. In Beyer, J.C. ed , Wound Ballistics, Washington, D.C. Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962. 2. Callender, G. R. and French, R. W. Wound ballistics studies in the mechanism of wound production by rifle bullets. Mil. Surg. 77 177-201, 1935. 3. Fackler, M. L Wound Ballistics A Review of Common Misconceptions. JAMA 259 18 2730-2736, 1988. 4. Amato, J. J. Billy, L. J., Lawson, N. S.,...

Correct Handling of Deaths from Firearms

Circular Defect Gunshot

The correct handling of a death from gunshot wounds begins at the scene. Here valuable evidence on the body can be lost or altered and bogus evidence may be inadvertently introduced through mishandling of the body. Before a body is touched, let alone examined, its position and appearance should be documented photographically and diagrammatically. The most important rule at the scene is to handle the body as little as possible so as not to dislodge trace evidence that may be clinging to garments...

Bullet Wipe

Bullet holes of entrance in the skin may have a gray coloration to the abrasion ring. This gray rim around the entrance is very common, and more prominent, in clothing, where it is called bullet wipe see Chapter 12 . Bullet wipe consists principally of soot, deposited on the surface of the bullet as it moves down the barrel, which is rubbed off the bullet by the skin or clothing as it penetrates the body. In the case of revolver bullets, some of this material may be lubricant as well. Bullet...

Accidental Deaths from Firearms

Derringer Mechanism

In order to decide whether a death from gunshot wound is an accident, one should know the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the death who was present, the findings at the scene, the type of weapon, the result of an examination of the weapon by a firearms examiner, the findings at autopsy, and the results of the toxicology study. The number of deaths in the U.S. from accidental gunshot wounds has steadily declined since 1970. In 1970, there were 2406 such cases in 1992, 1409.1 Even...

Bullet Emboli

Vascular embolization of a bullet is an uncommon occurrence. When it does occur, it usually involves the arterial system. Embolization should be suspected whenever there is a penetrating bullet wound with failure to discover the bullet in the expected region or to visualize the bullet on routine x-ray.9 In the author's first encounter with a case of bullet embolization, he spent seven hours looking for a bullet in the chest and abdomen, when it was in the femoral artery there was no x-ray...

Gunshot Wounds Pictures

Autopsy Gunshot Wounds

X-rays are invaluable in the evaluation of gunshot wounds. They should be taken in all gunshot wound cases, especially those in which there appears to be an exit wound. X-rays are useful for a variety of reasons 1. To see whether the bullet or any part of it is still in the body. 3. To locate for retrieval small fragments deposited in the body by a bullet that has exited. 4. To identify the type of ammunition or weapon used prior to autopsy or to make such an identification if it cannot be made...

Cartridge Cases

Examination of a fired cartridge case may make possible the identification of a weapon in terms of type, make, and model. The presence of magazine markings, the type of breech-block mark, and the size, shape, and location of ejector and extractor marks are important imprints in making such identification. The size, shape, and location of the firing pin on fired rimfire cartridge cases can also be used to determine the make of the weapon. The appearance of the firing pin imprint from centerfire...

Ammunition Myths and Facts

In the 1970s, a major controversy over the use of hollow-point handgun ammunition by police agencies erupted. The arguments against the use of this ammunition were generally emotional, with claims of mutilating wounds and organs reduced to unidentifiable chopped meat. Most of the arguments heard for and against the use of hollow-point handgun ammunition were based on myths, false assumptions, and second-hand stories spread by both opponents and proponents of this type of ammunition. From the...

Comparison of Bullets

Skid Mark Bullet Cartridge

When a gun is discharged, the bullet is forced down the barrel by the gases of combustion. Both class and individual characteristics are imparted to the bullet, whether it is lead or jacketed. Because lead is softer, one might postulate that bullet markings on lead bullets are more distinctive than those found on jacketed bullets. In actual practice, markings on the jacketed bullets are usually superior, because the jacket of harder metal is less likely to have the rifling marks wiped off by...

Centerfire Rifle Bullets

Remington Bronze Point Bullets

Centerfire rifle bullets differ in construction from handgun bullets in that rifle bullets have to have either full or partial metal jacketing. This is necessary because of the high velocities at which rifle bullets are propelled down a barrel. If the bullets were lead or lead alloy, these high velocities would result in the lead being stripped from the surface of the bullet by the rifling grooves. Some handloaders will load centerfire rifle cartridges with cast lead bullets. In such cases,...

Gunshot Suicide

22lr Suicide

When a revolver is fired, gas, soot, and powder emerge not only from the end of the muzzle but also from the gap between the cylinder and the barrel see Figure 2.11 . This material emerges, fan-like, at an approximate right angle to the long axis of the weapon. If the revolver is in close proximity to the body at the time of discharge, there may be searing of the skin, deposition of soot or even powder tattooing from gas and powder escaping from the cylinder gap. The tattooing will be...

Suicide by Firearms

Gunshot Wound

The most common method of committing suicide in the United States is by shooting. Approximately 65 of men committing suicide use firearms, with the remainder of the deaths almost equally divided between drug overdoses and hanging. Traditionally, the preferred method used by women was an overdose of drugs. Since the mid-1980s, however, use of firearms has become the most popular method of suicide in women.1 In 1970, in the United States, 30 of women shot themselves and 48 took an overdose of...

Location of Fatal Gunshot Wounds

There have been no extensive civilian studies to show the location of fatal gunshot wounds in the body in non-suicide cases. The U.S. Army has conducted a number of studies involving combat casualties.21-23 The most recent one, and probably the most applicable in view of changes in medical therapy, was the WDMET study from the Vietnam war.21 This study found that, although the head and neck constituted only 6.5 of the body surface, wounds of this region accounted for37.2 of fatalgunshot wounds....

Sawed Off Shotguns

Test firings, by the author, of sawed-off shotguns at ranges of 21 ft or less revealed that decreasing the barrel length of a cylinder-bore shotgun has no significant effect on the size of the pattern until the barrel has been sawed off to less than 9 in. At this point, the patterns begin to open up significantly. Moreau et al. found that with birdshot, as the barrel length decreased, any change in the size of the pattern produced depended on the brand of ammunition. Patterns either did not...

Wounds Due to Handguns

Colt Cartridge

Sam Colt made 'em equal. Handguns are the most commonly used form of firearm in both homicides and suicides in the United States. Handguns are low-velocity, low-energy weapons having muzzle velocities generally below 1400 ft sec. Advertised velocities of revolver cartridges traditionally have not been accurate because they are obtained in test devices that have no cylinder gap. Even in well-made revolvers, this gap will cause a velocity loss of approximately 100 to 200 ft...

EDX for Examination of Clothes

A less commonly used method of examining clothing in order to make range determination involves the use of energy dispersive x-ray EDX . The edges of the entrance hole are analyzed for the presence of antimony, barium, lead, and copper. Multiple readings are taken at varying distances from this hole. Thus, readings will be taken at 1, 2, 3, etc., inches from the 12 o'clock position of the hole, followed by additional readings taken in a similar manner from the 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions. The...

The Autopsy Report

In preparing an autopsy report in a death caused by gunshot wounds, it is always best to group the description of wounds in one area labeled Evidence of Injury, rather than scattering this information throughout the protocol. Thus, when a bullet entering the left chest perforates the left lung, the heart, the right lung, and exits the back, one should have all this information in one area of the autopsy report rather than scattering it among the External Examination and the description of the...

Armor Piercing Handgun Ammunition KTW and Its Legacy

In the 1960s, KTW ammunition, a form of armor-piercing handgun ammunition intended for police use, was introduced. It was subsequently banned in some localities because of its potential to perforate bullet-proof vests worn by police. The cartridge was loaded with a light-green Teflon-coated tungsten alloy or steel bullet with a copper half jacket on its base. This jacket, rather than the bullet proper, is gripped by the lands and grooves. Thus, rifling marks will be present only on this jacket...

Bullet Dissecting Microscope

Bevelling Wound Skull

Figure 4.38 a Bullet perforating bone b entrance in bone c exit in bone. difference in appearance of entrance and exit wounds is best seen in the flat bone of skull. As the bullet enters, it creates a round to oval sharp-edged hole in the outer table of the skull, with a large, bevelled-out hole on the inner table. When the bullet exits the cranial cavity, the inner table is the entrance surface and the outer table the exit surface. Chips of bone can flake off the edge of an entrance hole. This...

Class and Individual Characteristics of Bullets

When a bullet is fired down a rifled barrel, the rifling imparts a number of markings to the bullet that are called class characteristics. These markings may indicate the make and model of the gun from which the bullet has been fired. They result from the specifications of the rifling, as laid down by the individual manufacturer. These characteristics are 2. Diameter of lands and grooves In addition to these class characteristics, imperfections on the surfaces of the lands and grooves score the...

Plastic Training Ammunition

Gun Shot Wound

A number of European countries manufacture military blanks and training ammunition whose cartridge cases and bullets are made of plastic. The blanks can be identified easily by the breaking points or serrated lines on the nose of the cartridge Figure 10.18 . These blanks are typically color-coded as to caliber. In plastic training ammunition, the plastic bullet is integral with the plastic case Figure 10.19 . On firing, the plastic bullet breaks free of the case. The rifle projectiles have a...

Sabot Ammunition

Sabot ammunition was introduced during World War II in an armor-piercing anti-tank role and is still used for this purpose. This ammunition consisted of a dense core of tungsten carbide covered with a steel sheath and a bore-and-sleeve assembly the sabot . The sabot converts the core of the projectile Figure 10.7 9-mm cast bullet showing circular mark on base resulting from sprue. to the same diameter as the gun barrel. The sabot is discarded as the projectile leaves the bore of the weapon. The...

Wounds from Buckshot

Gunshot Wound Chest

The appearance of a wound resulting from buckshot depends principally on the range between the victim and the muzzle of the weapon. A contact wound will consist of a circular wound of entrance whose diameter is approximately the same as that of the bore of the shotgun. The edges of the wound will be seared and abraded. The wound of entrance often is surrounded by a wide zone of raw, abraded skin caused by flaring out of the skin around the muzzle at the time of discharge when the gas produced...

General References

Cartridges of the World, 8th Edition. Northfield, IL Digest Books Inc., 1996. Hogg, I. V. and Weeks, J. Pistols of the World. San Rafael, CA Presidio Press, 1978. Gun Digest. annual Northfield, IL DBI Books, Inc. Jones A. Editor Speer Reloading Rifle amp Pistol Manual, Lewiston, ID, 1994. Sellier K. G. and Kneubuehl B. P. Wound Ballistics and the Scientific Background. Elsevier, The Netherlands, 1994. Small Arms Ammunition, TM 9-1305-200, Department of Army Technical Manual, June...

Bang Sticks

A Bang Stick is a device used by skin divers and fisherman to kill sharks, large fish, or alligators. It is also called a fish popper, shark stick or power head. A Bang Stick consists of a metal cylinder or barrel that contains a cartridge chamber. The front end of the cylinder is open to allow exit of the bullet. The other end is closed by a screw-on, cap-like breech through which a firing pin can project. The pin is ordinarily held out of the breech by a spring. A metal shaft, at least 26...

Overview Of Gunshotwounds

Penetrating gunshot wounds to the head and lack of immediate incapacitation. I. Wound ballistics and mechanisms of incapacitation. Int. J. Legal Med. 1995 108 53-61. 2. Karger, B. Penetrating gunshot wounds to the head and lack of immediate incapacitation. II. Review of case reports. Int. J. Legal Med. 1995 108 117-126. 3. Collins, K. A. and Lantz, P. A. Interpretation of fatal, multiple, and existing gunshot wounds by trauma specialists. J. Forensic Sci. 139 1 94-99. January...

Rubber and Plastic Bullets

Gauge Tear Gas Round

Rubber and plastic missiles have been used extensively by both British and Israeli authorities in riot control. They are intended to incapacitate by inflicting painful and superficial injuries without killing or serious injury. They are supposed to be fired at ranges no less than 30 to 70 meters, depending on the missile, with fire directed at the lower extremities. Figure 10.20 12-gauge flechette round. Figure 10.20 12-gauge flechette round. Rubber bullets, introduced by the British in...

Short Long and Long Rifle Cartridges

Remington Headstamp Identification

The .22 Short, Long, and Long Rifle cartridges can be fired in both handguns and rifles. The term Long Rifle as it is applied to the most powerful of these three cartridges does not indicate that the cartridge is intended exclusively for rifles. Rifles and handguns chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge will fire the Short and Long cartridges as well. In the case of semi-automatic weapons, however, the weak recoil generated by the Short and Long cartridges is generally insufficient to work...

Wound Ballistics of the Shotgun

At close range, the shotgun is the most formidable and destructive of all small arms. For birdshot and buckshot loads, the severity and lethality of a shotgun wound depends on the number of pellets that enter the body, the organs struck by the pellets and the amount of tissue destruction. Like handgun bullets, the extent of tissue destruction from each individual pellet is limited to that tissue they physically shred. Temporary cavities play no significant role in injury. This is, of course,...

Methods of Analyzing Gunshot Residues

Method For Hand Swab

By the mid-1980s, there were three generally accepted methods of analyzing for gunshot residues neutron activation, flameless atomic absorption spectrometry FAAS , and scanning electron microscope-energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry SEM-EDX . All threemethods werebasedonthedetection of metallic elements principally barium, antimony, andlead originatingin primers and deposited on the back of the hand firing the weapon. Although all three compounds were found in the primers of virtually all...

Falling Bullets

Caliber Bullet Wounds Injuries

In some parts of the country, individuals celebrate New Years' Eve and July 4th by shooting guns in the air. Rarely, deaths are reported due to this practice. In most of these instances, the gun was probably not pointed straight up but at an angle to the horizon. In such a case, it is not unexpected for serious injuries to occur even if the bullet has traveled a great distance as a .30 caliber military rifle round has a maximum effective range of 4000 yards. Figure 9.5 Patterned abrasion from...

Miscellaneous Shotgun Ammunition

Disassemble Shotshell Ammunition

Shotgun Shells Loaded with Rubber or Plastic Pellets. Fiocchi, a major European ammunition manufacturer, produces shotgun ammunition loaded with hard-rubber pellets. The ammunition, now available in the United States, is sold as a self-defense loading that is non-lethal except at close ranges. The 12-gauge shell has a transparent hull closed by a plastic disk and contains 15 rubber pellets, a felt wad, and a plastic over-the-powder wad. The pellets measure 8.4 to 8.5 mm in diameter and weigh an...

Captive Bolt Devices Pistols

Captive Bolt

Captive bolt pistols are used in cattle slaughtering. In these devices, discharge of a blank cartridge drives a captive bolt, 7 to 12 cm long, out the muzzle of the device.10 Free flight of the bolt out the muzzle is prevented by the design Figure 10.3 Contact wound of forehead from stud gun. Figure 10.3 Contact wound of forehead from stud gun. of the bolt, though it is possible to overcome this. Injuries occur when the device is discharged at a range less than the length of the bolt. The end...

Lead Poisoning from Retained Bullets

Intranuclear Inclusions Lead

Lead poisoning from a retained bullet or lead shotgun pellets is extremely rare in view of the large number of individuals with such retained missiles. Even rarer is death from lead poisoning resulting from the retained bullet, with only three such cases in the English literature.16-18 As of 1994, there were 35 laboratory-documented cases of lead toxicity from a retained lead missile in the English literature.19-20 Fifteen of these have been reported since 1980. Onset of symptoms has occurred...

Base Markings

Gunshot Wounds

On discharge of a weapon, powder grains may be propelled against the base of the bullet with sufficient force to mark the base. Such markings are most evident in bullets with a lead base, that is, lead bullets or full metal-jacketed Figure 2.6 Markings on rifle cartridge case due to fluted chamber. Figure 2.7 a Base of unfired full metal-jacketed bullet with exposed lead core. b Pitting of base of similar bullet due to ball powder. c Circular and linear marks on base of lead bullet due to disk...

Shotgun Slugs

Gauge Sabot Slugs

Shotgun slugs are used for deer and bear hunting in heavily populated areas where the slug's rapid loss of velocity allegedly affords greater protection from shooting mishaps. Three types of shotgun slugs are on the market the European Brenneke the American Foster and the Sabot Figure 8.12 . Figure 8.11 A Large, irregular stipple marks of face caused by coarse, white polyethylene filler loaded in early Winchester buckshot loads. B Fine stippling due to fine plastic filler. The Brenneke slug was...

Near Contact Wounds

High Velocity Wound

These wounds and their characteristics have already been discussed in detail in Chapter 4. However, a number of additional points can be made. Small clumps of unburned powder may pile up on the edges of the entrance and in the seared zone of skin found in such wounds. These collections of powder are most prominent in wounds inflicted by .22 Magnum handguns whose cartridges contain ball powder. Near-contact wounds with handguns usually occur at ranges less than 10 mm. There is some variation...

O

Seared Skin Shotgun

Figure 4.1 A,B Hard-contact wound with blackened seared margins. Loose-Contact Wounds. In loose-contact wounds, the muzzle, while in complete contact with the skin, is held lightly against it. Gas preceding the bullet, as well as the bullet itself, indents the skin, creating a temporary gap between the skin and the muzzle through which gas can escape. Soot carried by the gas is deposited in a zone around the entrance Figure 4.2 . This soot can be easily wiped away. A few unburnt grains of...

Bullet Wounds of the Skull

Keyhole Bullet Wound

Tangential wounds of the skull have classically been called gutter wounds.19 In first-degree gutter wounds only the outer table of the skull is grooved by the bullet, with resultant carrying away of small bone fragments. In second-degree wounds pressure waves generated by the bullet fracture the inner table. In third-degree wounds the bullet perforates the skull in the center of the tangential wound Figure 4.40 . The outer table is fragmented, and there are depressed fragments of the internal...

Rafaello Crio Pattern Test

Close Range Gunshot Injury

Figure 5.14 Ball, flattened ball, and flake disk . Handgun cartridges loaded with cylindrical powder are uncommon in the United States. As a result of animal experiments, it appears that in a .38 Special revolver with a 4-in. barrel, cartridges with flake powder produce powder tattooing out to 18 to 24 in. 45 to 60 cm cartridges loaded with flattened ball out to 30 to 36 in. 75 to 90 cm , and cartridges loaded with true or spherical powder out to 36 to 42 in. 90 to 105 cm Table 5.4 .4 In...

Tandem Bullets

On rare occasions, when a gun is fired, the bullet lodges in the barrel. This occurs because there is an insufficient quantity of propellant in the cartridge case or incomplete combustion of the propellant. The latter condition can occur if oil has leaked into the cartridge case, preventing some of the powder from being ignited or if there is a chemical breakdown of the powder because of age or prolonged exposure to high environmental temperatures or humidity. If a bullet has lodged in the...

Xrays

Gunshot Wounds

X-rays of individuals shot with hunting ammunition usually show a characteristic radiologic picture that is seen almost exclusively with this form of rifle ammunition the so-called lead snowstorm. As the expanding hunting bullet moves through the body, fragments of lead break off the lead core and are hurled out into the surrounding tissues. An x-ray shows scores, if not hundreds, of small radiopaque bullet fragments scattered along the wound track the lead snowstorm Figure 7.16 see also Figure...

Zip Guns

The term zip gun as used in this bookindicateseither acrudehomemade firearm or a conversion of a blank pistol, tear gas gun, or cap pistol to a firearm.6 In the United States, zip guns had their peak of popularity in inner city areas during the juvenile gang wars of the 1950s. The quality of these weapons was extremely variable, with some so crude as to be a greater danger to the firer than to the intended victim. The simplest zip gun seen by the author was a metal tube in which a .22 Magnum...

Miscellaneous Notes on Shotgun Shells

There are three major manufacturers of shotgun shells in the United States Remington-Peters, Winchester-Western, and Federal. Remington-Peters. All shotgun ammunition produced by Remington has plastic tubes and is loaded with flake powder. Birdshot and buckshot shells are closed with a pie crimp. Power-Piston wads are used in virtually all birdshot shells. A one-piece Figure 8y plastic wad is used in some trap and skeet loadings. Filler is used in Magnum birdshot and buckshot shells....

Minimal Velocities Necessary to Perforate Skin

Before a bullet can cause a significant injury, it must be able to perforate skin. Skin differs from other tissue in that a relatively high initial velocity is necessary for a bullet to effect perforation. Knowledge of this velocity is important to the forensic pathologist in cases of assault, attempted homicide, or homicide with airguns as well as in determining the maximum range out to which a bullet is capable of penetrating the body. The first person to attempt to determine the minimum...

Shotgun Ammunition

Shotgun Tattoos

From the late nineteenth century until fairly recently, shotgun shells were constructed basically the same way. They consisted of a paper body the tube a thin brass or brass-coated steel head a primer powder paper, cardboard or composition wads, and lead shot Figure 8.1A . The wads were of four types Figure 8.1B . First was the base wad which was compressed paper or other material and was located inside the shotgun shell at its base. Its purpose was to fill up the space in the shell not...

Magnum

The introduction of the .22 Magnum Winchester Magnum Rimfire WMR occurred in 1959. It was developed as a rimfire cartridge that would possess a velocity close to that of a centerfire. It is loaded with either jacketed hollow-point or full metal-jacketed bullets. Both handguns and rifles are chambered for this cartridge. The .22 Magnum has a larger cartridge case diameter than the other rimfire cartridges and will not chamber in weapons chambered for the standard .22 rimfire cartridges. The .22...

Loss of Kinetic Energy

Gunshot Gelatin

The severity of a wound, as determined by the size of the temporary cavity, is directly related to the amount of kinetic energy lost in the tissue, not the total energy possessed by the bullet. If a bullet penetrates a body but does not exit, all the kinetic energy will be utilized in wound formation. On the other hand, if the bullet perforates the body and goes through it, only part of the kinetic energy is used in wound formation. Thus, bullet A with twice the kinetic energy of B may produce...

Bullets without Rifling Marks

Rifling Marks

Occasionally a bullet recovered at autopsy will show no rifling on its surface. Lack of rifling indicates that the weapon is a zip-gun, a smooth-bore handgun, or rifle, or a revolver whose barrel has been removed. Zip guns have been previously discussed. Weapons intentionally manufactured with smooth-bores are almost all .22-caliber rifles made for the exclusive use of .22 shot cartridges. Rarely, weapons that are supposed to have rifled barrels, inadvertently, get out of a factory with smooth...

Intrauterine Gunshot Wounds

Gunshot wounds of the pregnant uterus are relatively uncommon.14 Maternal death in such cases is rare. The gunshot injury to the fetus or placenta usually results in intrauterine death or premature delivery with or without evidence of injury to the child. The most significant question arising from fetal deaths due to gunshot wounds of the pregnant uterus concerns the ruling of the manner of death.15 If the child dies in utero, no matter how advanced the state of development, there is no...

Gunshot Wounds of the Brain

Gunshot Injuries Mechanism

Gunshot wounds of the brain constitute approximately one-third of all fatal gunshot wounds. Wounds of the brain from centerfire rifles and shotguns are extremely devastating. Such injuries are described in Chapters 7 and 8. This section will deal with gunshot wounds of the brain caused by low-velocity weapons handguns and .22 rimfire rifles. When a bullet strikes the head, it punchesout acircular to oval woundof entrance in the skull, driving fragmentsof boneintothebrain. Thebone chips...

Buckshot Ammunition

There are three major manufacturers of buckshot ammunition in the United States Remington-Peters, Winchester-Western, and Federal. Smith amp Wesson produced shotgun buckshot shells for a short time in the early 1970s. Buckshot is usually manufactured in seven sizes, ranging from No. 4 0.24 in. to 000 0.360 in. . With buckshot ammunition, the number of pellets loaded into the shell is stated rather than the weight of the charge. Table 8.2 gives the diameter and weight of various sizes of...

The Forensic Aspects of Ballistics

Rifling Factory

Rifles and handguns have rifled barrels, that is, spiral grooves have been cut the length of the interior or bore of the barrel Figure 2.1 . Rifling consists of these grooves and the metal left between the grooves the lands see Figure 1.13 . The purpose of rifling is to impart a rotational spin to the bullet along its longitudinal axis. This gyroscopic effect stabilizes the bullet's flight through the air, preventing it from tumbling end over end. This spin does not, however, stabilize the...

Pseudo Soot

Ricochet Bullet Spl

Just as various materials can simulate powder tattooing, so can one have simulation of powder soot. While there is usually no problem differentiating an oily material such as grease from soot, problems arise with material such as fingerprint dusting powder, graphite, powdered asphalt and powdered lead. One case that initially caused a problem involved an individual shot in the left chest just above the pocket of his shirt. On examination, there appeared to be a large quantity of soot around the...