Distance of Firearm


  • If a firearm is discharged very close to the body or in actual contact with it, subcutaneous tissues over an area of two or three inches round the wound of entrance are lacerated and the surrounding skin is usually scorched and blackened by smoke and tattooed with unburnt grains of gunpowder.
  • If the gunpowder is smokeless there will be no blackening of the skin, but there may be a greyish or white deposit on the skin around the wound. No blackening or scorching is found, if the firearm is discharged from a distance of more than four feet.
  • Moreover, these signs may be absent even when the weapon is pressed tightly against the body, as the gases of the explosion and the flame, smoke and particles of gunpowder will all follow the track of the bullet in the body. The effects produced by small shot fired from a shotgun vary according to the distance of the weapon from the body, and the choking device.
  • A charge of small shot fired very close to, or within a few inches of, the body enters in one mass like a single bullet, making a large irregular wound with scorched and contused edges, and is followed by the discharge gases which greatly lacerate and rupture the deeper tissues.
  • Particles of unburnt powder expelled from the weapon behind the missile are driven to some distance through the wound, and some of them are found embedded in e wound and the surrounding skin which is also singed and blackened by the flame and smoke of combustion.
  • The exit wound of a close range shows greater damage to tissues than the entrance wound, the margins everted, but there is no evidence of blackening or singeing.
  • At a distance of one to three feet small shot make a single aperture with irregular and erated edges corresponding in size to the bore of the muzzle of the gun, as the shots enter as one mass, but are scattered after entering the wound and cause great damage to the internal tissues.
  • The skin surrounding the wound is blackened, scorched and tattooed with unconsumed grains of powder. On the other hand, at a distance of six feet the central aperture surrounded in an area of about two inches in diameter by separate openings made by a few pellets of the shot which spread out before reaching mark.
  • The skin surrounding the aperture is not blackened or scorched, but is tattooed to some extent.
  • At a distance of twelve feet the charge of shot spreads widely and enters the body as individual pellets producing separate openings in an area of five to eight inches in diameter, but without causing blackening, scorching or tattooing of the surrounding skin. As the distance increases, the damage caused by a single pellet diminishes, until at about 30 feet, it is only capable of penetrating the skin of an animal.
Last modified: Tuesday, 5 June 2012, 11:48 AM