Effect of shortening the barrel in contact shots from rifles and shotguns

M. Grosse Perdekamp, B. Vennemann, B. P. Kneubuehl, M. Uhl, M. Treier, R. Braunwarth, S. Pollak

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    20 Citations (Scopus)


    In a suicidal gunshot fired to the chest from a carbine, the barrel of which had been shortened to half its original length, an unexpectedly large degree of destruction of the anterior thoracic wall with extensive undermining of the subcutis was found. This phenomenon was investigated for reconstructive purposes by firing test shots from two different long guns (caliber 7.92x57 repeating rifle with full-jacketed pointed bullet and caliber 12/70 single-barreled shotgun with shotgun slug) into blocks of soap (38x25x25 cm). The contact shots were fired before and after shortening the barrels (repeating rifle from 60 to 30 cm and single-barreled shotgun from 72 to 36 cm). The volume of the cavities in the simulant was visualized three-dimensionally with the help of a multislice computed tomography (CT) scanner and calculated sectionally. With the repeating rifle and the single-barreled shotgun, the shots from the sawed-off barrels produced significantly larger cavity diameters in the first section of the bullet track. This effect is attributable to the fact that, with a shortened barrel, the gas pressure at the muzzle is higher, thus, leading to increased expansion in the initial part of the wound track in contact shots.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)81-85
    Number of pages5
    JournalInternational Journal of Legal Medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


    • contact shot
    • shortened barrel
    • rifle
    • shotgun
    • computed tomography


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