Entry wounds can be classified as follows (16):
° At least part of the muzzle is against the skin.
° Characterized by soot embedded in the seared edges of the wound.
° Hard contact entries often show little soot on the skin surface.
° The muzzle is held lightly against the surface, allowing soot to deposit around the wound (Fig. 6). This wider zone of soot can be inadvertently wiped away.
° These wounds are similar to loose contact wounds and arise when the muzzle is a short distance from the skin surface.
° The muzzle is at a distance that allows dispersal of powder grains, resulting in individual impacts on the skin.
° The resulting numerous red-brown-orange punctate abrasions are referred to as tattooing or stippling (Fig. 7).
° There can be associated soot deposition around the wound, but because of relatively low density of soot, the amount becomes progressively less as the distance of the muzzle from the skin surface increases.
° The muzzle is at a distance (in order of at least a few feet) from the skin surface, which does not allow soot deposition or tattooing to occur.
Shotgun wounds acquire features owing to pellet separation at intermediate and distant ranges (16,124). Slight pellet separation away from the main shot column leads to "scalloping" around the main hole at intermediate ranges. Wider dispersion of some pellets causes smaller holes around the large main hole where most of the pellets have entered. Complete pellet dispersion occurs at distant ranges. Pellets in the shotgun shell are contained either by felt wadding or in plastic cups (Fig. 9; refs. 16 and 124). The wadding diameter equals the shotgun bore diameter (gauge). Wadding can enter the body at close and intermediate ranges of fire.
Most entrance wounds are surrounded by an abrasion ring (exceptions are bullets from high-velocity rifles and semijacketed handgun bullets) caused by the mechanical trauma of the bullet entering the body (16,125). The size of the entry hole does not correlate with the caliber of the bullet because of skin shrinkage and distortion (125).
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