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Firearms Identification

Throughout history, the field of Firearms Identification has routinely been mislabeled “Ballistics”.
 
Forensic scientists in the Firearm and Toolmark Section practice firearms identification.  Firearms identification is a discipline of forensic science which has its primary function to determine if a bullet, cartridge case or other ammunition component was fired by a particular firearm.  Ballistics, on the other hand, refers to the science of projectiles in motion.
 
Shooting Reconstruction on a VehicleFirearm examiners benefit from knowledge and study of ballistics in their work.  Examiners consider the interior ballistics, movement within the firearm, when evaluating a firearm or fired bullets in their examinations.  They may also rely on their knowledge of terminal ballistics, the effects of a projectile’s impact on a target, when participating in a shooting reconstruction or evaluating evidence for proximity determinations.
 
Although firearm examiners consider the motion of projectiles in their work, ballistics constitutes only a portion of their focus.  The term “Ballistics”, however, continues to be erroneously substituted for the title of the entire field of Firearms Identification.