Firearms and Ballistics

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Firearms and Ballistics Forensics

Our highly experienced team of firearms experts offer a full ballistics service from our own firearms facility and we are accredited by UKAS to the ISO 17025 standard. In addition to the laboratory-based examinations, our experts will carry out scene interpretation, assist at post mortems and offer a full case review service.

One of the roles of our firearms experts is the classification of firearms, weapons and ammunition under the relevant firearms legislation.

This legislation within the UK can be complicated and requires very detailed knowledge of the law as well as real expertise and experience in the examination and testing of these items. One of the most contentious areas tends to be whether or not a firearm can be considered to be an antique whilst another critical area in relation to air weapons is the accurate determination of the muzzle velocity.

Classification also extends to related items such as gas canisters and stun guns (electric shock devices) and can include functionality and test firing. The examination of a weapon can also establish, for example, whether or not it is an imitation firearm or whether it has been converted from an imitation firearm.

Firearms are encountered in a range of criminal and terrorism cases as well as non-criminal activities. An examination at the scene of a shooting, the post mortem or subsequent examination of exhibits can provide valuable information, including what type of weapon has been involved, how far the weapon was from the target and the trajectory of the shot. By comparing cartridges or bullets with weapons, it is also possible to establish whether or not a cartridge or bullet was fired by a particular weapon.

Forensic Access has some of the most experienced firearms experts in the country who have detailed knowledge of the firearms legislation. Our specialist facilities include a test firing range, a chronograph for muzzle velocity measurement and we are accredited to the ISO 17025 quality standard.

Forensic Access offers a full range of Ballistics services including:


Classification Of Weapons and Ammunition

We offer a full classification service for firearms, weapons and ammunition as well as related items such as tear gas canisters and stun guns (electric shock devices), which includes the assessment of the electrical output (voltage).

Our services include function testing and test firing to establish whether a firearm functions correctly or could have performed in a particular manner. We also provide assessments of the potential for conversion of imitation firearms and the capabilities of modified imitation firearms and homemade weapons and ammunition.

Our experts have extensive knowledge of the firearms legislation and the classification of weapons and ammunition is accredited to the ISO 17025 standard.


Range Of Fire

It may be critical to a case to establish how far away from the victim or target the shooter was when the shot was fired.

Our experts are able to examine the pattern of shot and by carrying out a series of test fires, establish the range of fire, which may help corroborate witness accounts of the events in question.


Scene Reconstruction

Our experts offer a full firearms scene service where they are able to provide valuable intelligence regarding the events that have occurred.

This can include the identification and recovery of firearms related evidence that can identify, for example, the type or number of weapons that have been discharged. Scene reconstruction can also help establish how far the weapon was from the target and the trajectory of the shot(s), which can help determine the position of the firer and injured party at the time that the shots were fired.

In addition to attending the scene of a shooting, our experts can attend the post mortem, where they are able to assist with wound interpretation and the identification of entry and exit wounds.

Scene examination also covers attending business and residential premises where it is alleged that imitation firearms have been converted or weapons or ammunition have been manufactured. This includes the examination of tools to establish whether they have been used in any part of the manufacture or conversion process.


Trigger Pull

Trigger pull is the term used for establishing the amount of pressure required to be applied to the trigger of a weapon to discharge it, which can be important in cases where a weapon may have been discharged accidentally.

Once the trigger pressure has been calculated, it can be established whether it is within the expected range for that particular type of weapon or, for example, "dangerously light". Tests can also be carried out to establish whether the weapon will discharge without pressure being directly applied to the trigger, for example, if the weapon has been dropped to the ground.

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Expert Witnesses

Huw Griffiths

Huw Griffiths

Forensic Scientist (Firearms)