A contact gunshot may leave an imprint mark around the entry wound. These can give a clue as to what type of gun was involved. This was first described by Werkgartner in 1922.


When a gun discharges hot gases and flames exit the barrel along with the bullet. In a contact wound these are discharged directly into the bullet entry wound. The combination of heat, powder residue and tissue deformation can cause items at the end of the gun to be imprinted into the skin around the entry wound.


An imprint mark may be caused by a mixture of abrasion, contusion, and/or burn injury.


Imprint marks may include:

(1) the barrel or muzzle

(2) the front sight

(3) the recoil spring guide for an automatic pistol

(4) folded shoulder stock of a submachine gun



• Some machine guns have a collapsible stock the folds back over the barrel. with the butt stock reaching the end of the barrel.


A high resolution color photograph that includes a measurement scale can be helpful in understanding a particular contact wound.


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