In increasing order from the firearms:
-> Scorching/Charring (extensive burning) is majorly caused by the flame from the muzzle end.
-> Burning is caused by the burning gases from the muzzle end (singeing of hair)
-> Blackening is due to the deposition of soot or unburnt residue, causing a blackening effect.
-> Powder Tattooing is due to partially burnt or unburnt particles.
-> Non-volatile products of combustion on the surface.
-> Metals residue from the barrels
-> Wad pieces in the wound
-> Projectile

1. Contact Firing

  • When the muzzle end of the rifled weapon is pressed against a human target and fired.
  • Leaves imprint on the target.
  • Range of firing: Zero.
  • Wounds effect:
    • Absence of burning (also called scorching or singeing)
    • No blackening or tattooing (also called peppering or stippling).
    • If gases do not get enough space for expansion inside the target, they come out through the entrance hole.
    • Often tear the surface around the hole and appears like an exit wound with ragged edges.

2. Close Firing

  • When the muzzle-to-target distance is less than 18 inches from the body.
  • Also called near contact or point-blank range.
  • Range of firing: less than 18 inches.
  • Wounds effect:
    • Scorching or singeing is a sure sign.
    • The burning range depends on the length of the barrel.
    • Blackening is found around the entry wounds by the deposition of smoke particles by all types of powders at close range.
    • The intensity of blackening in decreasing order: gunpowder> semi-smokeless> smokeless powder

3. Near Firing

  • Range of firing: Muzzle to target distance is 1 to 2 feet from the body.
  • Wounds effect:
    • Tattooing is caused by the embedding of unburn or semi-burn powder particles (also called peppering or stippling).
    • These particles being heavier than smoke particles move a greater distance resulting in their appearance at a distance of one and a half times the blackening range.

4. Distant Firing

  • No burning, soot, or tattooing is seen.
  • The wound is circular with an inverted margin the same size or even smaller than a bullet.
  • Abrasion collar: dark red or red in color when fresh and the inner zone soiled by grease known as Grease collar or dirt collar.


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