Ballistics Question


April 23, 2003, 06:42 PM
I was driving to work the other day when the gf asked me a simple question that I wasnt able to understand. She asked me something to the extent that if someone was shot in a crime with a shotgun using a target or hunting load, with so many lead pellets how would they be able to do a ballistics test on the shotgun in question.

The only thing that came to mind was if they had the spent shotshell. Firing pin, breechface and extractor marks on the casing. Lead in the barrel is a possibility.......




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April 23, 2003, 06:47 PM
Like you said, only the shell would have any markings that could tie it to a specific firearm. The shotgun doesn't impart rifling marks onto lead shot, so there isn't anything that can really be traced to the gun.

April 23, 2003, 06:53 PM
This is one reason why 'ballistic imaging' proposals are doomed to ultimately fail, even if all of the other problems could somehow be overcome. A sawed-off double-barrel 12-gauge with a cut-off stock is nearly as concealable as a handgun, just as useful to a criminal, far more deadly than any handgun, and leaves zero traceable evidence. (Same could be said for a revolver using frangible sintered-powder bullets.) If a 100% reliable, universal ballistic database could somehow be magically created, criminals would thereby avoid it if they felt the need to do so. (Of course, criminals using stolen, one-time-use guns don't seem particularly concerned about leaving traceable evidence anyway.)

Mark Tyson
April 23, 2003, 06:54 PM
There would be markings if you used a slug thruogh a rifled barrel.

April 23, 2003, 07:00 PM
Not entirely true....Shotguns & shotshell WADS can be matched up. Machine marks are plentiful on the wads, especially with the use of tight chokes. At close range the wad can sometimes be found inside the body cavity or near the location of the "victim".

April 23, 2003, 07:34 PM
Good point on the wads, aka shot cup. Very few folks are permitted to shoot shotguns at our 50' indoor range, but when done, the shot cups commonly travel the full distance. At closer distances, the shot cups alone can punch a wicked hole in targets.

April 23, 2003, 08:04 PM
Thanks for all the information. Now I have some stuff to relay. I totally forgot about the wads. I've shot the 870 at the local indoor range. Those wads cut pretty big holes in the paper.

Bottom line= Wads, Slugs and casings.

April 23, 2003, 08:40 PM
A slug fired from a non-choked, smooth bored shotgun would be the most difficult to "match". The random "bouncing" of the slug down the bore (lose fit) would be VERY difficult to duplicate in any follow-up test. The machine marks on the slug would vary in accordance with the various "bouncing" patterns possible from that particular shotgun and brand of slug. I would think dozens if not hundreds of tests would be required to get a match. How would you like to be the prosecutor explaining your "match" to a jury?:uhoh:

April 23, 2003, 08:55 PM
Non-wadded #4 buckshot would probably drive a crime lab nuts...


April 24, 2003, 06:26 AM
I didn't know they could trace the wads to a specific shotgun. Good thing I haven't been running around shooting folks with a shotgun. :)

April 25, 2003, 04:15 PM
I didn't know you could trace the shotcup either! I better get acquainted with black powder shotgun loads for my Mossberg 20 ga home defense weapon:neener:

April 25, 2003, 08:17 PM
I'm still waiting for "CSI" to answer this question :neener:

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