(Received 12 March 1987; accepted 26 May 1987)
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Shotcup petal abrasions centered around a shotgun wound of entrance are generally thought to occur at a range of 30 to 90 cm. A suicidal .410-caliber shotgun injury of the right eye is described in which typical petal abrasions were noted around the entrance wound. However, significant soot deposition around the wound suggested that the range of fire was less than 30 cm and perhaps closer to 15 cm. Test-firing of the weapon and ammunition used by the decedent showed some spread of the shotcup petals at a range of 7.5 cm, progressing to maximum spread at 30 to 52.5 cm. Further testing with other .410 ammunition, containing shotcups, confirmed the spread of shotcup petals at ranges less than 30 cm, irrespective of manufacturer, shotshell length, and birdshot size. When a variety of shotguns were tested, it was found that one weapon with a very short barrel and cylinder bore did not exhibit petal spread until a range of 30 cm was reached. The remaining shotguns, with longer barrels and full choke, all demonstrated definite petal spread at a range of 12.5 cm. The long, narrow configuration of .410 shotcup petals may explain their early spread and the production of peal abrasions at ranges of less than 30 cm.
Associate forensic pathologist, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Edmonton, Alberta
Clinical assistant professor, Universities of Alberta and Calgary, Edmonton, Alberta
Staff-sergeant in charge of firearms section, R.C.M.P. Forensic Laboratory, Edmonton, Alberta
Stock #: JFS12460J