Volume 39, Issue 5 (September 1994)
Inappropriate Use of .38 Special Ammunition in .30-30 Rifles
Modern firearms are designed to fire ammunition of a specific caliber. We report two gunshot fatalities where .38 Special handgun ammunition was used inappropriately in .30-30 Winchester lever-action rifles. In both cases the recovered wad-cutter bullets were abnormally elongated and unusually striated. In one instance, the cartridge case was expanded and split. Ballistic tests using .38 Special ammunition in a .30-30 Winchester rifle created deformed bullets similar to those recovered from the body. The test fired cartridge cases expanded and jammed in the chamber. While the .30-30 rifle chamber configuration accepts .38 Special wadcutter ammunition, its narrower barrel squeezes larger caliber lead bullets out like toothpaste.
It behooves forensic pathologists to not make hasty determinations of the caliber and weapon type based on a casual inspection of the recovered bullet.