Assessment of Missile Type

On a radiograph, assessment of missile caliber is difficult because of magnification and missile deformation. If an undeformed bullet is seen in two views at 90°, and its degree of magnification is known, the approximate caliber of the bullet can be determined. Some bullets are difficult to distinguish because the diameter is similar to others (T.ab.!e,.2.56-1). Sometimes deformed bullets can be accurately characterized radiologically for intact bullet caliber and weight. 27

Many radiographs show only fragments of the bullet and do not enable determination of the type of weapon and projectile that caused the wound. However, certain bullets deform or fragment in a characteristic pattern (such as the M16 military bullet, the Winchester Black Talon or SXT handgun bullets, and the .357 magnum 125-grain Remington semijacketed soft-point bullet) that can be used to identify them. Deformation of large lead shotgun pellets (e.g., 00 buckshot) after contact with bone can cause these to be confused with deformed bullet fragments.

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