Ballistics is a discipline that covers a wide range of topics, from the design and manufacture of firearms to the analysis of the trajectory of the projectiles and the effects they cause on the targets they hit.
In this article we will explore the fields of study of forensic ballistics and its importance in the investigation of crimes and in the determination of responsibilities in criminalistics.
Meaning and definition of ballistics
Ballistics is a scientific discipline that study the motion of projectiles in space, both inside and outside of firearms. This science is applied in various areas, such as the military, sports and forensics.
In the forensic field, an expert is in charge of the firearms analysis, projectiles and their effect on the targets they hit, which is essential for the investigation of crimes and the determination of criminal responsibilities. Now, ballistics is divided into two areas main:
- The indoor ballisticswhich studies the movement of projectiles within the barrel of the weapon.
- The foreign ballisticswhich focuses on the trajectory of projectiles once they have left the weapon.
What does ballistics study?
Ballistics studies the movement, behavior and effects of the projectiles, either inside the firearms or once they have left them and are in the air or in other media. Ballistics also deals with the study of other aspects related to firearms and projectiles, such as ammunition, cannons, gunpowder, warheads, cartridges, among others.
- in ballistics inside the movement of the projectile inside the barrel of the weapon is analyzed, studying factors as:
- The pressure.
- The stretching of the projectile.
- The precision.
- in ballistics abroad the movement of the projectile is studied once it has left the barrel, focusing on aspects such as:
- The trajectory.
- The reaching.
- air resistance.
- Environmental factors that may affect their displacement.
In criminal investigation, ballistics is a fundamental discipline for the analysis of cases related to firearms, since it allows determining aspects such as the trajectory of the projectile, the shooting distance, the type of weapon used, among other aspects that can be essential for the resolution of a case.
What are the types of ballistics?
exist three main types ballistics: internal ballistics, external ballistics and effect ballistics. Next, we describe each one of them:
What is interior ballistics?
Interior ballistics is a branch of ballistics that focuses on the study of the process of gunpowder combustion and how the expansion of the gases generated by this combustion pushes the projectile through the barrel of the weapon.
It also analyzes the effect that the pressure generated inside the shell has on the cartridge case and the way in which it stretches, which can influence the accuracy of the shot.
In addition, in interior ballistics, the shape of the ball is studied. projectile warhead and its relationship with speed and its stability during its trajectory through the barrel of the weapon. The physical and chemical properties of gunpowder are also analyzed, since these influence the speed and kinetic energy of the projectile.
What is foreign ballistics?
External ballistics is a branch of ballistics that deals with the study of the movement and behavior of the projectile once it has left the barrel of the weapon and is in the air or in another medium. This discipline focuses on projectile trajectory analysisits speed, range, kinetic energy and other environmental factors that can affect its movement, such as air resistance, gravity, temperature, humidity, among others.
In foreign ballistics various methods and techniques To measure and analyze the trajectory of the projectile, such as the use of distance measuring devices, the analysis of the effects on the target or the study of the impacts on different materials and surfaces.
Foreign ballistics is a very important discipline in criminal investigation, as it can provide valuable information on the origin and trajectory of the projectiles used in a crime.
What is effects ballistics?
Effects ballistics is a branch of ballistics that focuses on the study of effects that projectiles produce in the objects or living beings that they impact. This discipline analyzes injuries and damage caused by projectiles, as well as their possible relationship with the characteristics of the weapon and the projectile used.
In the ballistics of effects, the projectile’s ability to pierce, deform, or fragment objects, and the different lesions that can be produced in biological tissues are analyzed. The effects produced by the shock wave generated by the projectile upon impact on the target are also studied, as well as its possible relationship with the shooting distance and the speed of the projectile.
The effects that different types of projectiles and firearms can have on impacted objects are also studied, and the possible variations in the damage according to the characteristics of the projectile and the weapon used.
The effects of projectiles on different types of materials are analyzed, such as clothes, glass or woodand the possible changes in the trajectory of the projectile when impacting these materials are analyzed.
What is the history of ballistics?
Ballistics is a discipline that it has evolved throughout history in parallel with the development of firearms and projectile technology. The first records of ballistic studies date from the 13th centurywhen the Arab philosopher and scientist Al-Hassan Ibn al-Haythamalso known as Alhacén, described the laws of reflection and refraction of light, and applied these concepts to the trajectory of projectiles.
In it century XVI, the Italian mathematician Niccolò Tartaglia published the first treatise on ballistics in which the principles of the trajectory of the projectiles were described and the first mathematical formulas were given to calculate it. This work was later extended by other mathematicians and scientists, including the German Johann Bernoulli and the French Alexis Claude Clairaut.
In it XIX century, the development of smokeless powder and the invention of the metallic cartridge allowed greater precision in the firing of firearms, which led to a greater need for ballistic studies. In this period the Swiss August Föppl He was one of the first to apply the principles of mechanics and physics to ballistics, and his work laid the foundation for forensic ballistics modern.
During the twentieth centuryballistics became a discipline essential in criminal investigationand new technologies and tools were developed for the analysis of projectiles and crime scenes.
Currently, ballistics continues to evolve and increasingly advanced techniques are used, such as computer simulation and the identification of projectiles through spectrometry techniques, to solve homicide crimes and thus improve public safety.
What are the methods used in ballistics?
Ballistics uses various methods to study phenomena related to firearms and projectiles. One of them is the experimental method, which is based on carrying out tests and experiments under controlled conditions to determine the characteristics and behavior of projectiles and firearms. For example, you can perform penetration or impact tests to study the effects of the projectile on different materials.
Another method used in ballistics is the theoretical-analytical method, which is based on the application of physical laws and principles for the study of ballistic phenomena. This method is used to carry out calculations and simulations, which allow predicting the behavior of projectiles and firearms in different situations.
In addition, in ballistics they are also used research methods and analysis, such as the comparative method, which is based on the comparison of ballistic elements to establish relationships between firearms, projectiles and impacted targets. This method is used, for example, to establish whether a projectile recovered at a crime scene came from a specific firearm.
Also used is forensic methodwhich focuses on the investigation and analysis of ballistic evidence for the resolution of criminal cases.
Likewise, ballistics also uses simulation and modeling methods, which allow predicting the behavior of projectiles and firearms in different situations. These methods are based on the application of physical and mathematical principles for the creation of models that represent the behavior of ballistic systems.
How is ballistics divided? – Classification
Ballistics can be classified in various ways, here are some of the rankings more common:
- Forensic ballistics and operational ballistics: Another way of classifying ballistics is based on its application, either in the investigation of criminal acts or in the design and development of military and police weapons.
- Terminal ballistics and penetrating ballistics: This classification refers to the study of the projectile effects on the hit target, either in terms of penetration or damage dealt.
- comparative ballistics: this classification refers to conducting ballistic comparisons to establish connections between firearms, projectiles, and impacted targets.
- Terminal ballistics and transition ballistics: terminal ballistics focuses on the study of the effects of the projectile on the impacted target, while transition ballistics deals with the study of the behavior of the projectile on the impacted target. intermediate space between the muzzle and the hit target.
- ballistics of high speed and ballistics of low speed: this classification refers to the velocity of the projectile and its influence on ballistic phenomena. High velocity ballistics focuses on the study of projectiles fired at velocities greater than 700 meters per secondwhile low velocity ballistics deals with the study of projectiles fired at lower speeds per second.
- Weapon ballistics and ammunition ballistics: this classification refers to the study of firearms and ammunition separately, focusing on aspects such as the design, manufacturing and performance of each of these elements.