The muzzle to target distance -staining inside different parts of the firearm barrel.

Schyma, Christian; Müller, Rolf; Brünig, Julia; Zieger, Martin; Utz, Silvia; Grabmüller, Melanie (2024). The muzzle to target distance -staining inside different parts of the firearm barrel. International journal of legal medicine, 138(3), pp. 1149-1156. Springer 10.1007/s00414-023-03141-8

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Biological traces inside firearm barrels were observed as a result of contact shots to the head. The present study was conducted to investigate the influence of the muzzle to target distance on staining inside the anterior and posterior part of firearm barrels. Ninety-nine shots were fired to so-called reference cubes (10% gelatine, 12 cm edge length, embedded paint-blood-pad) using three current handguns. Shot range was varied from contact to 50 cm distance. High-speed cameras recorded external backspatter. Endoscopic examination assessed visible staining along the barrel. Each two swabbings were gathered from the anterior and the posterior part of the barrel. The first swabs were submitted to quantitative PCR, the second ones to DNA-RNA-co-extraction. Thorough mechanical and chemical cleaning was performed to avoid any contamination which was controlled by negative zero swabs after each cleaning. In single shots up to 50 cm distance, minimal, but DNA-positive sporadic traces were detected inside the barrel in vicinity of the muzzle. Visible complex staining varying in extent was observed in the anterior barrel part for 10 cm or less distance in dependence of the calibre. The posterior part showed detectable traces only after close range shots (< 5 cm). Generally staining inside the barrel decreased from the muzzle to the rear end, which correlated with the yield of DNA. Some contact shots did not cause any staining in the posterior part of the barrel despite massive external backspatter. Blood-specific miRNA was primarily found where DNA was detected. This experience encourages to take a second swab for RNA analysis. The amount of nucleic acids in the barrel at varying muzzle to target distances is subject to large variations between individual shots and therefore appears not suitable for a reliable determination of the shot distance in a particular case on its own. Instead, shot range estimation should also take into account morphology and distribution of traces inside the barrel.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Forensic Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Schyma, Christian, Brünig, Julia, Zieger, Martin


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

14 Dec 2023 10:20

Last Modified:

11 Apr 2024 00:13

Publisher DOI:


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Uncontrolled Keywords:

Biological traces Firearms Molecular genetics Muzzle gas Shot range miRNA




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