Forensic Friday: Gun Play

Do you think you know everything there is to know about guns and bullets?  I bet there are things you don’t know—unless it’s your job to know.  But as an author in the crime genre, it’s imperative to get the facts as straight as you can. 

I was fortunate enough to be contacted by an educated source who has offered to help me with detailed technical and forensic questions.  They are giving of their assistance free of charge.  I want to “pay it forward” and pass on what I learn.  I believe that’s fair. J

Here’s a few things I’ve learned already.

Clips and magazines are the NOT same.
Unless you’re active with guns, I doubt you knew that.  It’s common for online resources to use the words interchangeably but they couldn’t be more wrong. 

So what is the difference?
A clip holds bullets and goes into a magazine.

Here’s a video that may help you see this  clearly.

All bullets are NOT created equal
Bullets are designed to suit a purpose.  While I’m still very new in my knowledge of this area, my source has pointed out that there are bullets that are bonded and bullets that have full metal jackets (FMJ).  Of course, there are many other types but these are the two I’m going to touch on.

What is a jacket?
A jacket is a harder metal that encases a softer metal core.  Jacketed bullets are ideal for hard or soft targets, but if traveling through glass, for example, are likely to separate.

What is a bonded bullet?
A bonded bullet is when the jacket is fused to the softer metal core.  They cannot be separated.  Heat is one way this process is conducted.  Some bullets are even solid copper.  Bonded bullets are ideal for going through hard material such as glass or metal.


  1. Good for you. Not all of us have an extensive background with weapons. Unfortunately, I do and I am too often distracted by technical errors by authors who are writing about things of which they know little or nothing. Their mistakes become as speed bumps on the page. The same is true on TV and in the movies. My military experience taught me how to salute properly and I rarely see an actor take the time to learn. Annoying.

    I suggest that any author who wants to describe the feel of a weapon (rifle, gun, pistol, revolver, etc.), its "kick", and its impact on a target (animal, plant, mineral, etc), they should go to a range and take instruction or write about something else.

    1. Thank you, Jack. I strive to make sure aspects in my books are correct and accurate. I'm hoping to get to the gun range this summer and look forward to it.


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