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Minimum Velocity Necessary for Nonconventional Projectiles to Penetrate the Eye: An Experimental Study Using Pig Eyes

Marshall, John W. BSc (Hons); Dahlstrom, Dean B. BSc; Powley, Kramer D. BSc

American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31820c2be2
Original Articles
Abstract

To satisfy the Criminal Code of Canada's definition of a firearm, a barreled weapon must be capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person. Canadian courts have accepted the forensically established criteria of "penetration or rupture of an eye" as serious bodily injury. The minimal velocity of nonconventional ammunition required to penetrate the eye including airsoft projectiles has yet to be established. To establish minimal threshold requirements for eye penetration, empirical tests were conducted using a variety of airsoft projectiles. Using the data obtained from these tests, and previous research using "air gun" projectiles, an "energy density" parameter was calculated for the minimum penetration threshold of an eye. Airsoft guns capable of achieving velocities in excess of 99 m/s (325 ft/s) using conventional 6-mm airsoft ammunition will satisfy the forensically established criteria of "serious bodily injury." The energy density parameter for typical 6-mm plastic airsoft projectiles is 4.3 to 4.8 J/cm2. This calculation also encompasses 4.5-mm steel BBs.

Author Information

From the Forensic Laboratory Services - Firearms Section, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Manuscript received September 2, 2008; accepted April 11, 2009.

Reprints: John W. Marshall, Forensic Laboratory Services - Firearms Section, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. E-mail: john.w.marshall@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.