Firearms and Tool Mark Analysis

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) offers Firearms, Tool Mark and firearms related analysis to assist law enforcement agencies and the judicial system in the State of Alabama.

The Firearms and Tool Marks Analysis Unit uses state of the art forensic comparison microscopes, digital measuring software, digital cameras and high definition video equipment to compare and document evidentiary items.

The following services are offered:

Firearms Analysis
  • 1. Comparison of suspect firearms to projectiles, bullets and cartridge cases collected at crime scenes.
  • 2. Identification of bullets (i.e. caliber, make and potential list of firearms if no firearm is collected.
  • 3. Analysis to determine the condition of the firearms (safety system, trigger pull force and general operability of the firearm.


Tool Mark Analysis
  • 1. Determining the type of tool used to make a suspect tool mark
  • 2. Comparison of suspect tools to tool marks collected at a crime scene
  • 3. Fracture Analysis


Gunpowder Residue Analysis
  • 1. Examination of clothing or similar items to detect the presence of gunpowder and gunpowder residues using microscopic and chemical methods.
  • 2. Testing to determine the approximate distance of a firearm to a target based upon gunpowder and residue patterns.
  • 3. Instrumental analysis to confirm the presence of gunpowder on evidence articles.


Serial Number Restoration
  • 1. Analysis to determine and restore serial numbers on items of evidence


Firearms Database Services
  • 1. ADFS is a partner in the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) which is sponsored by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). ADFS uses the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) to perform this analysis.


Ancillary Services
  • 1. ADFS Firearms personnel are trained to detect, collect and test items for the presumptive presence of blood and other items of potential trace evidence.
  • 2. Preparation of High Definition videos and digital images of microscopic comparisons for court and judicial proceedings.

Bullet Comparison





Research and New Technologies

The ADFS Firearms and Tool Mark Identification Unit (FATM) is a national leader in the discipline in the area of research and new technologies to advance the science of Firearms and Tool Mark Analysis.

Presentations have been presented at the Annual Training Seminars of the Association of Firearms and Tool Mark Examiners.

  • 1. Fourier Transform Infra-Red Spectroscopy with Attenuated Total Reflection for the Identification of Gunpowder
  • 2. The Use of High Definition Video for the Documentation of Microscopic Comparisons.
  • 3. The Use of Confocal Microscopy for Objective Analysis of Fired Bullets.