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Microscopic and macroscopic comparisons of 0.223 soft point and full metal jacket ammunition with bos taurus scapulae as a proxy to human flat bones
  1. Seth C Taylor1,
  2. D C Kieser2,3,
  3. N Hammer4,5,6,
  4. A Pullen1,7 and
  5. G Hooper1
  1. 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Otago Christchurch, Christchurch, New Zealand
  2. 2Orthopaedics, University of Otago, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
  3. 3Medical Corps, New Zealand Defence Force, Dunedin, New Zealand
  4. 4Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology, Dresden, Germany
  5. 5Department of Macroscopic and Clinical Anatomy, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria
  6. 6Department of Trauma, Orthopedic and Plastic Surgery, University Hospital of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  7. 7Balllistics and Personnel Protection, New Zealand Defence Force, Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Seth C Taylor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Otago Christchurch, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand; 22sethtaylor{at}


Background The prevalence of civilian 0.223 ammunition is widespread. Due to low costs and the same dimensions as a 5.56×45 mm North Atlantic Treaty Organization, this round is exceptionally popular. However, recent mass shootings have employed soft point (SP) expanding ammunition to cause grievous wounds compared with military full metal jacket (FMJ) rounds that do not rapidly expand on impact.

Methods The aim of this given study is to compare FMJ and SP rounds to determine if there are diagnostic differences between the bullet types in the wounds inflicted to flat bones. Bos taurus scapulae were used for 25 m simulated cranial gunshot injuries. Scanning electron microscopy was employed to assess the difference in wound morphology and elemental analysis between SP and FMJ rounds.

Results Entrance and exit wound morphology change significantly between the two different types of ammunition as seen with circumferential delamination which is indicative of FMJ rounds and is not seen with the softer SP hunting rounds. Lead staining of the entrance wound is visible on only the SP rounds.

Conclusion Gunshot flat bone wound morphology is distinctively different between SP and FMJ rounds. Circumferential delamination is only seen with FMJ due to the hardness of the round. Lead staining is only seen with SP rounds due to bullet composition.

  • anatomy
  • trauma management
  • adult pathology
  • forensic pathology
  • head & neck imaging

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  • Contributors SCT: main author as research was undertaken in course with a PhD programme. DCK, NH and GH: supervisors and editing. AP: statistical analysis.

  • Funding Funding for this study project was provided by the University of Otago.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Bos taurus scapulae were acquired from a local butcher. Due to the origin of the tissues from the food chain, no study or ethical approval was deemed necessary.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. Data stored in a data repository and available on request from the corresponding author.