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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76889 Find in a Library
Title: Characteristics of Silenced Firearms and Their Wounding Effects
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:26  Issue:2  Dated:(April 1981)  Pages:239-262
Author(s): R C Menzies; R J Scroggie; D I Labowitz
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 24
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study presents information on the structure and function of firearm silencers and discusses characteristics that may indicate to the pathologist that a silenced weapon has inflicted a wound.
Abstract: Despite the increased rate of silenced handgun seizures in recent years, no reports of wounds these weapons cause have been published previously. Data on silencers were gathered using 16 weapons on hand at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Calibers included 0.22, 0.32, and 0.45 in. and 9 mm. The silencers' efficiency was measured by firing each weapon with and without its silencer to obtain information on noise levels, missile velocity, and bullet deformities. The results showed that silenced handguns' efficiency, in terms of noise reduction, is largely determined by construction; homemade weapons are frequently more efficient than their commercially manufactured counterparts. For the examination of wounding characteristics, pigs were selected as animal models because of the relative hairlessness of pigskin and the close histologic similarity between pigskin and human skin. Studies revealed that most wounds are likely to inflicted at either contact or close range. Muzzle imprints proved to be erythematous rather than abraded and disproportionately large for the size of the wound. Close range wounds frequently exhibit atypical entrances. The examination of wound edges by energy-dispersive analysis of x-rays may demonstrate the presence of unusual elements, sometimes associated with components of the silencer. Also, an inspection of the recovered bullets with the naked eye may reveal damage indicative of modifications to the barrel or misalignment of the device. With these criteria, it should be possible in many cases to support or refute the suggestion that a silenced weapon has been used to inflict a given wound. Data tables, footnotes, five references, and photographs are included. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Ballistics; Bullet hole identification; Evidence collection; Firearms identification; Forensic medicine
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