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 wound track, clothing can cause dispersion of soot and powder among the layers of clothing or onto the skin surrounding the entrance, thus altering the appearance of the wound from that of a hard contact wound to that of a loose contact wound [Figure 12.3]. With near-contact wounds, the clothing may absorb soot that would ordinarily be deposited on the skin as well as preventing or decreasing searing of the skin by hot gases.

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