Combined Collection and Analysis of Inorganic and Organic Gunshot Residues

J Forensic Sci. 2020 Jul;65(4):1102-1113. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.14314. Epub 2020 Mar 17.


Gunshot residue (GSR) analysis and their interpretation provide crucial information on a criminal investigation involving the use of firearms. To date, several approaches have been proposed for the implementation of a combined sampling and analysis of inorganic (IGSR) and organic GSR (OGSR). However, it is not clear at this stage if concurrent analyses of both types of residue might be detrimental to the analysis of IGSR currently applied in forensic laboratories. Thus, this work aims to compare and evaluate three different protocols for the combined collection and analysis of IGSR and OGSR. These methods, respectively, involve the use of a modified stub (with two halves, one for the detection of IGSR and the other for the analysis of OGSR); the sequential recovery of GSR with two stubs mounted with different adhesives (double-sided carbon tape and Tesa® TACK) and the sequential analysis of IGSR and OGSR from a single carbon stub following carbon deposition. The detection of IGSR was carried out using SEM-EDX, while OGSR analysis was performed using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS). Obtained results for experiments performed using Geco Sinoxid® ammunition indicated that sequential analysis was the most suitable protocol for the combined collection and analysis of both IGSR and OGSR. A higher number of inorganic (characteristic and consistent) particles and higher concentrations of ethylcentralite, N-nitrosodiphenylamine, diphenylamine, and nitroglycerin were recovered with this method.

Keywords: firearm discharge residue; inorganic gunshot residues; liquid chromatography; mass spectrometry; organic gunshot residues; scanning electron microscopy-energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX).