On the street, investigators encounter long arms in greater numbers than ever before. Enter the Guntrol Gun Carrier from Chain Mountains Sporting Goods of Paonia, Colorado. Carefully attached to a long gun, the firearm can be carried safely, with minimal potential for damage to evidence. With some law enforcement personnel being unfamiliar and even uncomfortable with firearms, it provides an increased comfort level when handling them.
The Guntrol Gun Carrier consists of a heavy steel rod, shaped to snap over a firearm, with a polymer covering to protect firearm finishes, and a choice of a plastic or wooden carry handle. Simple and strong, designed to give the hunter many years of service, it will operate as an investigative tool well. For the active, metropolitan crime scene unit or the wildlife officer, frequently recovering long guns far from proper evidence collection supplies, this is a tool that will help safeguard evidence as well as maintain safety.
Documenting wound channel or projectile expansion
At times, a forensic specialist or firearms instructor will need to document wound channel and projectile expansion. Ballistic gelatin, a long-time standard for this purpose, is difficult to make and use, and somewhat expensive. Ballistic Technology of Princeton, West Virginia, addresses this with The Bullet Test Tube.
Available in a variety of sizes to accommodate cartridges from handguns through powerful Magnum rifle calibers, it is essentially a cardboard tube with a proprietary paraffin matrix. A target spot on the end aids aiming. After being shot, the paraffin is slipped from the tube and either measured to determine the actual size of the cavity, or carefully split to visualize the cavity and permit recovery of the projectile.
This product is also designed to permit reuse. New tubes may be obtained, the paraffin may be melted and recast, and most of the unit thus recycled. However, in many law enforcement applications this is less likely than for a hunter or ballistics researcher.
The Bullet Test Tube provides a convenient and cost-effective alternative to ballistics gelatin, especially for the agency with an only occasional need for cavity testing. Easily stored, quickly and conveniently put to use, it can provide any agency with a valuable tool for various applications.
Firearms labs and training facilities need great versatility today. But with budget limitations, the initial cost and maintenance expenses of ballistic capture systems are of increasing concern. Water recovery systems — heavy, immovable, somewhat maintenance intensive, and expensive, which also often result in damaged projectiles — are losing ground in the 21st century.
A serious challenge in this market comes from the Duke Projectile Recovery System (DPRS), a product of Ballistic Research Inc. of Alpharetta, Georgia. The DPRS is available in several sizes, from a low-volume handgun caliber recovery unit through a high-volume Magnum rifle recovery system. Mounted on wheels, and weighing from 250 to 1,500 pounds, the units may be moved about a lab, rolled out of the way for storage, or rolled out of the lab to conduct demonstrations.
The DPRS uses natural and manmade fibers to capture the projectile. As a result, the projectile will not expand or deform but will maintain barrel-produced stria. Samples provided by Ballistic Research included a .40 S&W jacketed hollowpoint, fired from a Glock completely intact, with no expansion, plus a 7.62x39mm full-metal-jacket bullet with no damage whatsoever.
The high-caliber rifle system, capable of recovering up to a .458 Magnum, weighs 1,500 pounds. Its initial price is competitive with, or less than, a custom installation. When used for rifle bullet recovery, it has a life expectancy of 1,500 to 1,850 shots before it needs repacking; and repack kits are quite economical.
The DPRS provides a versatile, practical and economical alternative to traditional water recovery units for firearms labs and training facilities. More importantly, its fiber recovery system ensures an examiner recovers undamaged test bullets for microscopic comparison.
Shelter in the field
Portable, easily assembled shelter has become a mainstay for field operations. Whether a small shelter, supplying worker protection while excavating a grave, or a larger shelter providing protection to equipment and a rest area for investigators, pop-up shelters have become popular with responders.