Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 188–195 | Cite as

The reference cube: A new ballistic model to generate staining in firearm barrels

  • Christian SchymaEmail author
  • Kristina Bauer
  • Julia Brünig
Original Article


After contact shots to the head biological traces can be found inside firearm barrels. So far silicone coated, gelatin filled box models were used to generate such staining according to the triple contrast method (mixture of acrylic paint, barium sulfate and blood sealed in a thin foil bag). This study was conducted to develop a transparent ballistic model allowing contact shots. Gelatin filled polyethylene bottles with and without a silicone coat were tested in comparison to non-covered gelatin blocks. Finally, thin foil bags of 5 cm × 5 cm dimension were glued on a synthetic absorbent kitchen wipe on top of which 1 L 10% gelatin solution was molded to create blocks of 8.5 cm length. A kitchen wipe with a paint pad on its inside formed the front of the cube. Three contact shots each with a 9 mm Luger pistol and a .38 special revolver were performed on all model variations. The staining was documented by endoscopy and swabs gathered from both ends of the barrel were analyzed by quantitative PCR. Reliable staining was achieved using the front covered gelatin block with comparable results to the silicone coated box model used before. For further research using ballistic models to simulate a human head a symmetric form of the gelatin block such as a cube is recommended.


Suicide Firearm Wound ballistics Backspatter Biological traces Gun barrel 



This research work was funded by the SNF (Swiss National Science Foundation, project 310030E-147628 / 1). The expert technical assistance of Marion Sauer (Bonn) and Nicole Schwendener (Bern) is also gratefully acknowledged. The authors would also like to thank PhD Dr. Eva Brenčičová for proofreading the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards


This research work was funded by the SNF (Swiss National Science Foundation, project 310030E-147,628 / 1).

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests. Ethical approval: All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Forensic MedicineUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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