Skin penetration assessment of less lethal kinetic energy munitions

J Forensic Sci. 2005 Nov;50(6):1426-9.


The development of less-lethal technologies has provided law enforcement personnel with an alternative to lethal force. Although the less lethal projectile was produced to engender non-penetrating wounds, case studies show that there have been a number of reported penetrating injuries ranging from minor to significant in morbidity. The objective of this study was to determine the energy per unit area required to penetrate various regions of the body. Eight unembalmed postmortem human specimens were procured for this testing. Each specimen sustained a maximum of 25 impacts consisting of shots to the anterior and posterior thorax, abdomen, and legs. A 12-gauge, fin-stabilized, rubber rocket round was used as the impactor for all of the conducted tests. The energy density required for 50% risk of penetration varied from 23.99 J/cm2 for the location on the anterior rib (p = 0.000) to 52.74 J/cm2 for the location on the posterior rib (p = 0.001).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Forensic Ballistics*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rubber
  • Skin / injuries*
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / pathology*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / pathology*


  • Rubber