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Toolmark vs. Firearm Analysis: Do the Same Methods Apply?

Just how closely related are methods for forensic toolmark and firearm examination? Though seemingly quite similar, analysis techniques for one may not be transferrable. CSAFE researchers take a closer look at this question in a new 2019 paper published in the Journal of Forensic Science.

In “Adapting the Chumbley Score to Match Striae on Land Engraved Areas (LEAs) of Bullets,” investigators examine if a statistical method developed for screwdriver markings successfully identifies striations on bullets.

While exploring Chumbley method performance on bullet analysis as opposed to screwdrivers, CSAFE researchers compare error rates. Results show that when judged against toolmarks, error rates increase.

Researchers discovered that parameter changes strongly impact the performance of the test. Next up, the CSAFE team plans to increase the test’s power with bullet-to-bullet comparisons.

Review the full article to learn more about this study. If you’d like a quick snapshot, view the CSAFE poster from AFTE 2018. For more information on CSAFE firearms and toolmark projects, visit our research page.