Comet-tailing refers to a spiral stippling at an entrance wound caused by a plated bullet.

A plated bullet has a core of lead with a thin layer of copper or other layer of metal on its entire surface. This is similar to a jacketed bullet, but the outer layer of metal is much thinner.


If there is a break in the outer metal layer, then melted lead may spew out. If the barrel is rifled, then the bullet is spinning at the entrance wound. This results in a spiral-shaped deposit of lead.


The hypothesis is supported if:

(1) the retrieved bullet (or other bullets in the gun) are plated

(2) analysis of the skin deposits shows lead


The presence of the spiral deposit indicates that the skin defect is the entrance wound.

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