Atypical gunshot wound caused by cylinder index error

E. G. Jones, D. A. Hawley, E. J. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Atypical gunshot wounds are caused by a diverse set of parameters relating to weapons and ammunition. Documentation of cases where atypical gunshot wounds can be explained facilitates future interpretation of wounds in unusual cases. We report an atypical gunshot wound produced by a double- action Colt .38-caliber special handgun with a cylinder index error. Cylinder index error is caused by a misalignment between the cylinder chamber and barrel forcing cone. When properly functioning, the cylinder chamber and barrel forcing cone are held in alignment by the union of the ratchet and latch pin. In this case, misalignment was caused by wear of the ratchet and latch pin, which allowed play in the cylinder. With the weapon turned on its side, and the swing arm down, the cylinder chamber overlaps the barrel forcing cone. When fired, the index error caused lead fragments to shear off the bullet and expel laterally out the cylinder gap between the cylinder chamber and barrel forcing cone, creating fragment entrance wounds several centimeters distant from the site of contact entry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-229
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

Cite this