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Chemical Analysis of Firearms, Ammunition, and Gunshot Residue

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There are numerous detailed books on firearms available for enthusiasts, the vast majority of the books concentrating on the physical aspects of firearms. Very little has been published on the chemical aspects of firearms and ammunition and what has been published is sparse and fragmented in the literature. One of the reasons for this is that manufacturers are reluctant to release in-depth details about their products for obvious commercial reasons.

The first part of the book is an attempt to amalgamate such chemical information as is available in the literature into one publication and also to summarize the history of firearms and ammunition that is of particular relevance to the development of modern firearms and ammunition (Chapter 2 through Chapter 15).

The remainder of the book details chemical aspects of forensic firearms casework with particular emphasis on the detection of gunshot residues (GSR)/firearm discharge residues (FDR)/cartridge discharge residues (CDR) on a suspect’s skin and clothing surfaces. The development of an analytical method to routinely examine samples from terrorist suspects for both firearms and explosives residues is described.

Northern Ireland was subjected to a terrorist campaign for nearly 26 years (commonly referred to locally as “the troubles”). The violence is now ended, much to the relief of the overwhelming majority of residents, and the community is thriving. During the troubles the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory (NIFSL) experienced a large firearms caseload and this text is geared toward recording statistics gathered during this period and scientific methods developed to meet the demands of law enforcement and courts of law. The contents will be of interest to any forensic laboratory engaged in such work, particularly to forensic chemists, with little or no knowledge of firearms, who may be required to undertake chemical examinations related to firearms casework.
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