International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 70–71 | Cite as

A case of “boomerang” bullet ricochet

  • B. Karger
  • U. Joosten
Case report


A .375 Holland & Holland Magnum Winchester Fail Safe bullet was fired against a steel plate. The big-game hunting bullet (17.4 g, approx. 810 m/s) has a solid copper-alloy hollow point design including a lead core limited to the rear portion. The range of firing was 20 m and the angle of impact was 90°. A large fragment (10.9 g) consisting of the main part of the copper portion was deformed in a peculiar manner similar to a tube or ring and wounded the left hand of the person shooting. The unique fragment trajectory strictly against the line of fire and the velocity sufficient to shatter bone after a distance of 20 m can be explained by an extraordinary deformation mechanism. Unlike in tissue, the high resistance of the steel plate caused the lead core in the rear of the bullet to move forward perforating the central copper barrier behind the hollow point cavity. Thus, the peculiar fragment was created. The subsequent backwards acceleration of the ring-like fragment was probably caused by the partly elastic impact of the copper-alloy portion against the hard steel plate. Due to the perpendicular impact resulting in a centric and symmetrical deformation, the fragment moved in a direction exactly backwards along the original line of fire.

Keywords Gunshot wound Ricochet Bullet fragment Fragment injury 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Karger
    • 1
  • U. Joosten
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Münster, Von-Esmarch-Strasse 62, 48149 Münster, GermanyDE
  2. 2.Department of Surgery, University of Münster, Waldeyerstrasse 1, 48129 Münster, Germany DE

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