The results of a multifaceted research project towards the optimization of the visualization process of firearms contact marks on hands are reported. Latent imprints that are formed by the close contact between the metallic parts of the weapons and the palms were visualized by the application of the PDT iron (II) reagent. Various factors affecting the quality of the marks were studied. Also PDT analogues were synthesized and their performance compared with that of the original compound.
Some of the analogues show slight advantages over PDT in contrast and sensitivity, but PDT in acetone solution, such as in the commercial preparations Ferroprint or Ferrotrace seems to be the formulation of choice for reasons of availability and cost. It can visualize latent firearms impressions on the hands several hours after the contact.
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