Volume 49, Issue 6 (November 2004)
Gunshot Residue Particle Velocity and Deceleration
The velocity of over 800 gunshot residue particles from eight different sources was determined using high speed stroboscopic photography (spark gap light source). These particles were found to have an average velocity of 500 to 600 ft per second. Many particles acquired considerably higher velocities. Thus, the particles have sufficient energy to embed themselves within certain nearby targets like skin or fabric. The relatively high velocity that the particles acquire explain the formation of stippling on skin in close proximity to a muzzle discharge. These findings also indicate little influence of air currents on particle behavior near the muzzle. The deceleration of less than 100 particles during a 100-microsecond interval was also calculated. The particles experienced rapid rates of deceleration which would explain why few particles are found in test firings beyond 3 ft from the muzzle of a discharged firearm. Because of their relatively high velocity, normal wind velocity would not be expected to significantly influence their motion near the muzzle.