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Int J Legal Med. 2012 May;126(3):371-6. doi: 10.1007/s00414-011-0641-y. Epub 2011 Nov 13.

Wounding capacity of muzzle-gas pressure.

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  • 1Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Bonn, Stiftsplatz 12, 53111, Bonn, Germany.



Suicidal gunshot wounds that are caused by ammunition fired from a 9-mm Luger pistol, with direct contact between the gun muzzle and the victim's head, present a serious injury pattern even with full metal jacket bullets. Wound ballistic experiments were performed to clarify whether muzzle gases from the firearm have an additional wounding potential.


Fifteen head models were prepared as follows: an acryl sphere measuring 14 cm in diameter was completely covered with a layer of silicon that was 3 mm thick. These spheres were filled with 10% gelatine. At 4°C, these models were fired at with a 9-mm Luger pistol, loaded with Quick Defense 1 expanding bullets. Five shots were fired with direct muzzle contact, one shot was fired from a distance of 10 cm, four shots were fired from a distance of 2 m, and five shots were fired from a distance of 4 m.


Each projectile penetrated the model; all but one projectile deformed regularly. Each acryl sphere shattered into comminuted pieces but was held together by the silicon cover. The gelatine filling was then cut into slices 1 cm thick, and each slice was optically scanned. An evaluation was performed following both Fackler's Wound Profile method and the polygon procedure method. The pattern of gelatine disruption did not differ in shots from intermediate ranges, but the amount of gelatine destruction was always more extended in the case of muzzle contact shots. Depending on the section of the bullet path, crack lengths were 31% to 133% longer in contact shots. The first centimetre and the second half of the bullet path showed the greatest increase.


The experimental findings prove the wounding capacity of muzzle gases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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