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Range of Fire Determination From the Pseudostippling of Skin by Shotshell Buffer Material

Haag, Lucien C. BS

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 1 - p 56–62
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31827a05ce
Original Articles

The plastic buffer material in certain American shotgun shells emerges from the muzzle with the same velocity as the pellets that it was intended to protect from deformation during the very high accelerative forces associated with the discharge process. These small plastic particles spread out quickly over distance in a predictable, reproducible, and uniform manner as they lose velocity because of air resistance. If these plastic particles strike skin with sufficient velocity and energy, they will produce stipple marks whose distribution and density can be used to establish range of fire. This can be of critical importance in the reconstruction of a shooting involving this type of ammunition.

From the Forensic Science Services, Carefree, AZ.

Manuscript received November 18, 2010; accepted October 18, 2012.

The author reports no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Lucien Haag, BS, Forensic Science Services, PO Box 5347, Carefree, AZ 85377. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.