skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 69840 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: On the Mechanism of Gunshot Residue Particle Formation
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:25  Issue:3  Dated:(July 1980)  Pages:533-545
Author(s): G M Wolten; R S Nesbitt
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 13
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The mechanism of gunshot residue particle formation was investigated by conducting several experiments in which various materials were fired in cartridges, and residue particles containing these materials were determined.
Abstract: Independent bulk elemental analysis was conducted on the residue from fired cartridges to trace the presence in the primer and bullet particles of various oxides, salts, and metals added to the cartridges before they were fired. All primers were the standard 'small pistol' primer, Winchester 1 and 1/2-108; cartridge cases were nonplated brass; and two .38-caliber and one 9-mm. common commercial cartridges were used in the experiments. Tracers were added to bullets by electroplating or solution-plating the bullet, while tracers were added to powder by dropping a weighed amount of the tracer compound directly into the case before the loading of each individual cartridge. Firings were conducted with the following additions to smokeless powder: rubidium sulfate, strontium sulfate, germanium, cobalt, and gold in elemental form. Results are consistent with the hypothesis that gunshot residue is formed by the condensation of vaporized bullet and primer materials that segregate into metallic and compound particles. Some of the metallic vapors are oxidized and 'scavenged' by oxygen and sulfur-rich primer compounds, among which the sulfur compounds appear to be more effective. The 'bullet' particles of the residue thus originate in the bullet material, and the 'primer' particles are a mixture of primer-derived and bullet-derived materials. Tables, figures, footnotes, and 14 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Gunshot residue; Trace evidence
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.