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...

Analytical Examination of Clothing for Range Determination

Although in many cases soot and powder grains are readily seen on the clothing, thus indicating a close-range shot, on occasion examination with the naked eye and the dissection microscope is insufficient. The powder may have fallen and or bounced off, or one is at the extreme range at which powder exiting a barrel will have sufficient velocity to embed itself in the material. In such situations and in instances where an exact determination of the range may be necessary, rather than just saying...

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

Suicide Intraoral Shotgun

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,...

Ricochet Bullets

Fragmented Bullets

For both solid surfaces and water there is a critical angle of impact incidence below which a bullet striking the surface will ricochet rather than penetrate. The critical angle is determined by the nature of the surface, the construction of the bullet and the velocity of the bullet.12 Thus, round nose bullets are more likely to ricochet than flat-nosed fullmetal-jacketedthanleadandlow velocity more than high velocity. If theangleof incidenceis greaterthanthe critical angle, the bullet either...