(Received 8 May 1997; accepted 31 March 1998)
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“Stellate” or “cruciform” tears of clothing are conventionally believed due to contact or close-range firearm entrance wounds. However, there are no published studies that actually document and confirm this observation. A Remington Nylon 11 .22-caliber rimfire bolt-action rifle, a Colt Woodsman .22-caliber rim-fire auto-loading pistol, a Winchester Model 94 .30–30 Winchester lever-action rifle, and a Remington Model 870 12-gauge pump-action shotgun were test-fired at tight contact, loose contact, 2 cm, 4 cm, 8 cm, 15 cm, 30 cm, and 6 m ranges, using cotton denim, cotton broadcloth, and cotton jersey as targets. The .22-caliber rifle did not produce stellate tearing in these fabrics at any range. The .22-caliber pistol always produced stellate tears at tight contact and loose contact ranges: non-stellate defects were produced by this pistol at ranges of 2 cm or greater. The .30–30 Winchester rifle produced stellate tears at all contact and close ranges up to and including 8 cm. The 12-gauge shotgun only produced stellate tears at loose contact, but was not tested at all ranges. Stellate defects were not produced by any firearm, in any fabric, at ranges greater than 8 cm. These results are specific to the firearms, ammunition, fabric, and conditions selected, and may not reflect findings in situations involving other firearms, projectiles, ranges, or fabrics.
Firearm specialist, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Forensic Laboratory, Edmonton, Alberta
Chief Medical Examiner, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Edmonton, Alberta
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Calgary, Alberta
Stock #: JFS14378J