Volume 18, Issue 2 (April 1973)
Studies of the Trace Element Content of Bullet Lead and Jacket Material
This note concerns the characterization of bullets and bullet jacket material through their trace element content, a technique of potential utility when a bullet or bullet fragment is deformed so that the more conventional techniques are inapplicable. Among the trace element analysis techniques which have been already applied to this problem are atomic absorption spectrometry  and neutron activation analysis —the latter technique being that employed in the present study. Results from these studies (for rather few trace elements) suggest that bullet lead compositions may be sufficiently constant for a given manufacturer and calibre for characterization to be possible. This is feasible despite the possibility that manufacturers supply lead to each other and the batch nature of the manufacturing process. In the recent work of Lukens et al , the elements Sb, Cu, and As were determined, but the measurement of other trace elements was impeded by the intense antimony radioactivity present in the irradiated specimens, resulting from activation of the substantial Sb content of bullet lead.