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01.03.2012 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2012

International Journal of Legal Medicine 2/2012

Ballistic parameters and trauma potential of direct-acting, powder-actuated fastening tools (nail guns)

Zeitschrift:
International Journal of Legal Medicine > Ausgabe 2/2012
Autoren:
Matthias Frank, Ernst Franke, Holger C. Schönekeß, Jörn Jorczyk, Britta Bockholdt, Axel Ekkernkamp

Abstract

Since their introduction in the 1950s in the construction and building trade, powder-actuated fastening tools (nail guns) are of forensic and traumatological importance. There are countless reports on both accidental and intentional injuries and fatalities caused by these tools in medical literature. While the ballistic parameters of so-called low-velocity fastening tools, where the expanding gases act on a captive piston that drives the fastener into the material, are well known, ballistic parameters of “high-velocity” tools, which operate like a firearm and release the energy of the propellant directly on the fastener, are unknown. Therefore, it was the aim of this work to investigate external ballistic parameters of cal. 9 and 6-mm fastening bolts discharged from four different direct-acting nail guns (Type Ideal, Record Piccolo S, Rapid Hammer R300, Titan Type 1). Average muzzle velocity ranged from 400 to 580 m/s, while average kinetic energy of the projectiles ranged from 385 to 547 J. Mean energy density of the projectiles ranged from 9 to 18 J/mm2. To conclude, this work demonstrates that the muzzle velocity of direct-acting high-velocity tools is approximately five times higher than the muzzle velocity of piston-type tools. Hence, the much-cited comparison to the ballistic parameters of a cal. 22 handgun might be understated and a comparison to the widespread and well-known cal. 9 mm Luger might be more appropriate.

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