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Juniel B. Tagarino, RN, MAN
• Forensic analysis is vital t
o solve a crime that uses
a gun.
• In 2004, there were 12,00
homicides in the US
Firearms: A Quick History
1. Almost every gun is based on the same simple concept: You ap
ply explosive pressure behind a projectile to launch it down a b
2. The earliest & simplest application of this idea is the cannon.
3. The 1st handheld guns were essentially mini-cannons; you loade
d some gunpowder & a steel ball & lit a fuse
4. War typically resulted in the need for improved
weapons technology.
5. In the late 1800’s, the revolver quickly became
popular due to it’s size & quick loading.
• It only had to be reloaded every 5-6 shots instead
of after each shot.
6. Handguns reigned supreme for the past 200 ye
ars & to this day, remain the most popular & re
adily available firearm.
Types of Firearms
1. Handguns (pistols)
– Revolver
– Semiautomatic

2. Rifles

3. Shotguns

4. Air or BB guns
1.Cartridge case
• Made of lead, sometimes jacketed with brass, copper, or
• Bullet size—diameter (caliber or gauge)

• Shapes
Firearms Identification
1. Often confused with the term ballistics
2. Ballistics is the study of a projectile in motion.
• Inside the firearm
• After it leaves the firearm
• When it impacts the target
3. Identification of Firearms is based upon this basic id
ea: A harder object marks a softer one & imparts/
transfers its microscopic irregularities to that objec
Forensic Firearms Expert
1. Did a suspect use this gun to kill that person?
2. Did these bullets come from that gun?
3. Was it really self-defense?
4. Is this a case of suicide, or is foul play involved?
5. Bullet Comparison
6. Weapons Function
– Is it safe? Has it been modified?
7. Serial Number Restoration
8. Gunpowder Residue Detection
– on clothes, hands, & wounds
9. Muzzle-to-Target Distances
Pulling the Trigger
1. Pulling the trigger releases the firing pin…
2. The firing pin strikes the primer…
3. The primer ignites the gun powder…
4. The powder generates gas that propels the bull
et forward through the barrel & ejects the spen
t cartridge case.
Bullet Caliber
1. Caliber: the diameter of the gun barrel.
2. Caliber is recorded in
– hundredths of an inch (.22 & .38)
– millimeters (9mm)
Bullet Anatomy
Cartridge Parts & How it works
Cartridge Parts and How it Works
Cartridge Case
Lead Bullet
Primer Gun Powder
Anatomy of a Bullet
Bullet Comparisons
1. Each gun leaves distinct markings on a bullet passing t
hrough it.
2. A gun barrel is made from a solid bar of steel that has
been drilled/hallowed out.
3. The drill leaves microscopic marks on the barrel’s inn
er surface.
4. Gun manufacturers also add spiral grooves to the bar
rel. This is known as rifling.
5. Lands: the space between the grooves.
6. As a spinning bullet passes through the barrel, it is ma
rked by these grooves.
1. The grooved spirals inside
the barrel of a gun that pro
duce lands and grooves on
a bullet
2. Lands & grooves are class
1. Scratches on a fired bullet,
2. like a barcode
3. Can serve as individual evi
4. Matching bullets or bullet to
a firearm
Class Characteristics
1. Class Characteristics: Once a manufacturer chooses a
rifling process, for a particular class of weapon, they k
eep it consistent.
2. Lands & Grooves are the same for a model.
– .32 caliber Smith & Wesson has 5 lands & grooves twisting to
the right.
– .32 caliber Colt has 6 lands & grooves twisting to the left.
3. Class characteristics can eliminate certain makes but a
re not enough to ID a particular gun.
Individual Characteristics
1. Imperfections in the manufacturing process
make each barrel unique.
2. Rifled barrels, even if made in succession will
NOT have identical striation (scratch-like mar
Bullet Comparisons
1. To match bullets to a gun, test bullets mus
t be fired through a suspect barrel for co
2. Goddard & Comparison Microscopes
– Examined bullets side-by-side (to match
striated markings).
Cartridge Case
1. Usually brass Head Stamps
or nickel-clad
2. Class evidenc
– Manufacturer
– Shape
– Caliber
– Composition Rimfire & Centerfire Cartridges
Cartridge Markings
1. All moving components contact the cartridge rath
er than the bullet can leave useful impressions o
n shell cartridges.
2. Cartridge Case Individual Characteristics:
– Breech face marks
– Firing pin impressions
– Chamber marks
– Extractor marks
– Ejector marks

Firing Pin

Ejector (not shown)

Breech Marks
1. When a cartridge is fired, the explosion forces the bullet down the b
arrel and the shell casing is forced back against the breech.
2. This leaves impressions unique to the individual gun’s breech on the
shell casing.

Breech face Marks
Actual Breech Marks
Firing Pin Marks
1. In order to fire the cartrid
ge, the primer must first
be ignited. To accomplish
this a firing pin strikes the
center ring of the cartridg
2. This will in turn leave a di
stinct impression that is u
nique to the firing pin of t
hat particular gun.
Firing Pin Marks
Chamber Marks
Ejector Marks
Extracting PinPin&and
Extracting Ejector Marks
Ejector Marks

1.TheThe extracting
extracting pin pin a
nd ejector throw
ejector throw th
the spent shell
e spent
casing shell casing
from the
chamber of the
the chamber o
f the gun.
casingcasing t
that are unique to
those are onunique
that to th
ose partsfirearm.
on that pa
rticular firearm.
Other Factors
1. Perfect matches sometimes difficult b/c:
– Presence of grit & rust in a barrel
– Recovered bullets too mutilated or distorted on imp
2. A spent bullet’s weight can sometimes deter
mine the gun make.
3. Microgrooves: 8-24 grooves; it’s not as comm
4. General Rifling Characteristics File
– FBI database of known land/groove width for all we
1. Smooth barrel
– Projectile NOT marked as it passes throug
2. Fire small lead balls or pellets contain
ed within a shell.
3. Characterized by:
– diameter of the shot
– size & shape of the wad
– Gauge: diameter of the barrel
( gauge  diameter)
4. Identification can still be made by co
mparison of extractor/ejector markin
gs on shotgun shell.
Features of a Semiautomatic Handgun
Firearms Evidence
Individual: Class:
1.Striae 1.Bullet type
2.Firing pin marks 2.Bullet caliber
3.Breech marks 3.Bullet weight
4.Extractor marks 4.Lands and grooves
5.Ejector marks 5.Rifling
6.Cartridge case
6.Chamber marks
7.Head stamp
Gunshot Residue (GSR)
1. When a weapon is fired:
- Primer and propellant par
ticles blow back toward t
he shooter.
- Combustion products (m
ostly NO2-), unburned pro
pellant, and particles of l
ead follow the bullet, spre
ading out with distance.
1. GSR Sources:
– victim, clothing or target
– shooter’s hands
2. Gunpowder Chemistry
– Major detectable elements are: lead (Pb), b
arium (Ba) & antimony (Sb)
– Virtually all cartridge cases are made of bras
s (copper & zinc); also detectable.
Griess Test
1. Tests for the presence of nitrates (partially bur
ned or unburned gunpowder)
2. Swab of shooter’s hand
3. Must produce a pattern for a distance determi
Results of GSR Hand Test
1. Negative results may be caused by:
– Washing the hands
– Shooter may have been wearing gloves
– Lead free ammunition
2. A rifle or shotgun may not deposit GSR on han
3. GSR on the hand of a suicide victim, proving h
e was holding the weapon when it was fired.
4. With a contact or very close range gunshot wound, it
is possible to have blood spatter as well as GSR on th
e hand of the person firing the weapon.
Contact Gunshot wound
1. This is a contact gunshot entr
ance wound.

1. Since the barrel contacts the

skin, the gases released by th
e fired round go into the sub
cutaneous tissue & cause the
star-shaped laceration.
Abrasion Ring
2. The abrasion ring, and a ve
ry clear muzzle imprint, ar
e seen in this contact rang
e gunshot wound.

1. An abrasion ring, formed whe

n the force of the gases enter
ing below the skin blow the s
kin surface back against the
muzzle of the gun, is seen her
e in this contact range gunsh
ot wound to the right temple.
Entrance/Exit W Displayed here is an entrance at the left an
d an exit at the right.
ounds 1.Exit wounds vary considerably in size and
shape because the bullet can be deformed i
n its transit through the body.
2.There may be no exit wound at all if the b
ullet's energy is absorbed by the tissues. So
me bullets (such a a "hollowpoint") are desi
gned to deform so that all their energy will
be converted to tissue damage and not exit.

3. This is a contact range

gunshot entrance wou
nd with grey-black disc
oloration from the bur
ned powder.
4. Powder tattooing is see
n in this intermediate ra
nge gunshot wound. Th
e actual entrance site is
somewhat irregular, bec
ause the bullet can tum
ble in flight.
5. The surface of the skull demonstrates the heavy soot in this con
tact range entrance wound, as well as radiating fracture lines. T
he direction of fire was thus toward the back of this picture.
1. When a serial number is stamped into a gun,
the metal underneath the number is compre
ssed & hardened.
2. If the number is filed-off, the hardened area
may still be present.
3. By using an acid solution the metal can be sl
owly eaten away.
– In this process the softer metal will be eaten away
first and the number may reappear.
1. Make sure it is unloaded!!!!!
2. DO NOT put a pencil into a barrel
– Indicate location of fired & unfired ammunition
– Check magazine for number of rounds
– Fingerprint magazine
5. Place ID tag on trigger guard
– Write on base or nose
– Package in pill box or envelope
– Wrap in tissue to protect
– Protect & preserve any
– Air dry if wet
– Package separately in p
aper bags
8. Establish CHAIN OF CUSTO
1. Tools often used in burglaries may leave a mark.
2. Class characteristics: type, size, shape
3. Individual characteristics: features from wear and damage
1. Impressions
2. Cuts
3. Gouges
4. Abrasions


Matching Toolmarks
• Photography & casting are important to matc
h tool with mark

1. Shoeprints
– Class characteristics—
manufacturer, type, mod
el, size
– Individual characteristi
cs— wear patterns, nick
s, marks, occlusions (like
pebbles or sticks)
– Captured by oblique-angl
e photography or chemic
al enhancement
– casting in soil
– lifting.
2. Tire marks
–Treated much the same as shoeprints
–Class characteristics involve design, size, type, and mod
–Wear and damage cause defects that can lead to individu
–TreadMate is a database containing data on more than 5,
000 vehicle tires and tread patterns.
Tire Treads
3. Bite marks
– Result from assault or sexu
al attack, common in dome
stic violence
– Individual evidence, if enou
gh impressions
– Bite marks were the prime
evidence in the conviction o
f serial killer Ted Bundy.
4. Serial Numbers/Restoration of serial numbers
– Items of value may have ID numbers stamped into the
– Grinding is usually used to obliterate identification num
– To restore ID numbers on metal, an acid etching solutio
n is employed.

Forensics: Debate
Both Sides of the Issue; Gun Control Laws

Should gun sales and

ownership be subject
to federal regulation?
• Introduction
• Pro/con sides
• Assertion
• Evidence
• Personal opinion
Thank you!