Interchangeability of Ammunition in Weapons

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...

New Forms of Handgun Ammunition

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...

The Forensic Aspects of Ballistics

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...

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Hollow Point Bullet Wounds

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)...

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...

Shotgun Slugs

Gauge Slug Size

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...

Shotgun Wounds

Shotgun Contact Wound

Figure 8.16A-D show the sequence of events that occur at the muzzle on firing a shotgun. Note the large gas cloud that is partly responsible for the severe nature of the wounds at contact range. Figure 8.16 (A-D) Discharge of shotgun. Figure 8.16 (A-D) Discharge of shotgun. Contact shotgun wounds of the head are among the most mutilating firearms wounds there are. Extensive destruction of bone and soft tissue structures with bursting ruptures of the head are the rule rather than the exception....

Physical Activity Following Gunshot Wounds

Medical Photos Gunshot Wounds

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...

Centerfire Rifle Bullets

Hollow Point Bullet Wound Medical

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,...

Loss of Kinetic Energy

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...