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Creating Test Specimens

If a firearm is submitted to the BCA, a firearm examiner must test fire the firearm to collect fired bullets and/or fired cartridge cases.  They compare the test fired specimens to the bullets and cartridge cases collected at a scene.
Firearms Examiner Test Firing into BCA's Water Trap
Creating quality test specimens is important to successful microscopic comparative examinations.  By selecting proper ammunition, examiners can improve their ability to recognize matching features on the specimens.  The BCA has an ammunition reference collection that houses a variety of calibers, cartridge types and bullet styles and weights for handguns, rifles and shotguns. 
Firearms Examiner Test Firing a Rifle into a Cotton Trap
Firearm examiners must recover fired bullets for comparison to evidence bullets.  The BCA has a water trap and cotton trap for recovering fired bullets.  The examiner will consider many factors including bullet velocity and construction when choosing the appropriate recovery method.