In contrast to what is seen on television and in the movies or read in mystery novels, it is rare for an identifiable fingerprint to be left on a firearm, especially a handgun. Only a small surface area is suitable for leaving prints, and the recoil of the weapon causes the fingers to slide and produce smudges. Partial prints may be seen.

Both the public and many police agencies do not realize, that identifiable fingerprints may be obtained from fired cartridge cases.9 Thus, ejected cartridge cases at a crime scene should be collected in such a manner as to preserve prints that might be found on such casings. In one unusual case seen by the author, a .25 ACP bullet recovered from a body had a partial fingerprint etched in the jacket. This was obviously due to handling the bullet in the distant past with the "acids" from the fingertip etching the partial print on the bullet. There were too few points for positive identification.

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