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 relatively scant. If there is intervening clothing, it may be seared, blackened or even torn by the gases. In rare cases, if a hand is around the cylinder gap at the time of discharge, the gases may lacerate the palm (Figure 14.5).

If the cylinder of the revolver is out of alignment with the barrel, as the bullet jumps from the cylinder to the barrel, fragments of lead may be sheared off the bullet. These fragments can produce marks on the skin that resemble powder tattoo marks. Such marks, however, are larger, more irregular, and more hemorrhagic than traditional powder tattoo marks. In addition, fragments of lead are often seen embedded in the skin. These fragment wounds are usually intermingled with powder tattooing produced by powder escaping from the cylinder gap (Figure 5.18).

Figure 5.18 Suicide contact wound of left temple with powder tattooing and lead fragment stippling of left side of neck. The larger areas of hemorrhage are due to the lead fragments.
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