View Full Version : Name that insert

Odd Job
01-03-2007, 10:52
Gents, I have a case in my research file that needs a few loose ends tied up. First I'll tell you the story and then I'll show you the radiograph.

The story: a young man sustained a gunshot wound in Johannesburg, South Africa in August 2002. He came to my hospital where I was doing a study involving gunshot wounds and I needed only three more cases to get my 150 total. He is case number 148.
When he came in I photographed his wounds (heel and ankle), his clothing (a sports shoe) and I took X-rays of the affected limb.
He had quite a nasty wound in the achilles area and he had another smaller one behind the lateral malleolus. Here is the AP radiograph of the ankle:


He had quite a bad fracture of his tibia, involving the ankle joint. There were pieces of lead in the wound and you can see one of the skin breach markers laterally. The other is cropped off the image. The curious thing here is the arrowed item. It is a fully intact symmetrical projectile component with a radiological density that suggests it is a solid piece of metal. You don't see these every day at the hospital. It can only be an insert from an armour-piercing round, or similarly designed projectile. But there is no jacketing seen anywhere on the radiograph.
I proceeded to examine the shoe and I found that it had several breaches in the heel support area, some of these breaches were penetrating only. When I X-rayed the shoe, I found more pieces of lead embedded in the shoe, but still no jacketing. There were a few 'wipe' marks on the shoe that could possibly been from pieces of lead and/or jacketing.
So the bottom line on the projectile is that it has definite lead components, an insert that is probably a solid metal other than lead (it did not deform even after causing such a bad fracture and being lodged in the tibia). Although I didn't find any jacketing anywhere, I cannot prove that there was no jacket. In fact the evidence before me suggests that this bullet fragmented before encountering the shoe and this guy just caught two major fragments therof, which in turn fragmented within his ankle. The insert could not be retrieved at surgery because to do so would have rendered the internal fixation less stable.

Now I have asked some people about this insert and I have one very good lead that has resulted in me being able to say that the insert is possibly from a certain type of ammunition. In other words the samples of that ammunition's insert, when X-rayed at a certain angle, match Case 148's radiological appearances exactly.

But...before I pat myself on the back I need to make sure there aren't any other types of inserts that match that contour.

So please, if you have seen an insert with that contour, I want to know the make and the calibre of the bullet in which it is embedded.
After a while I will tell you about my matching sample and I will provide pictures of it. But at the moment I don't want to put a bias on this question.

01-03-2007, 11:04
Looks kind of like it may be an aluminum cover from an older Winchester,"Silvertip" projectile, or a Remington "Bronze point"

Odd Job
01-03-2007, 11:59
@ Air.177

No sir it cannot be aluminium because aluminium components of that size are not radiologically dense. What I mean to say is that if it was made from aluminium, it would either be only faintly visible on the X-ray or it would not be visible at all.
As for a bronze tip, that's more like it for density. It is a bit sharp in the nose though:


The insert on the radiograph has a more rounded nose. Thanks for the guesses, keep them coming, I am considering all...

01-03-2007, 12:53
I've seen a few that look like what you've pictured there. What caliber is it?

01-03-2007, 14:27
Looks like a penetrator off of an AP AK round. Probably went through something (fairly close) that stripped the jacket before it hit your PT. The lead fragments would have "squirted" through the hole behind the penetrator and embeded in the dispersion pattern shown. My .02 :munchin - Peregrino

01-03-2007, 19:21
might be a penetrator from a Russian pistol/SMG round the .30 Tokarev.

Odd Job
01-03-2007, 19:58
@ Peregrino

Yes, sir, that is how I think things happened.

@ Kachingkapow

You are right about the Tokarev. My sample insert that matches that radiographic contour is from a 7.62 x 25 Sellier and Bellot round that is steel jacketed and has a mild steel insert.


In the picture linked above, image (1) is my sample insert removed intact from a 7.62 x 25 S&B round. The insert is placed at an angle on a radiolucent sponge so that I can approximate its attitude according to how I think the insert is positioned in the victim's ankle.
Image (2) is the resultant radiograph of the sample at that angle.
Image (3) is a cropped rotated equalized view of the insert from the victim's radiograph, for direct comparison.
The radiograph of the sample is not a 100% perfect match because I have the sponge angle slightly off, but there is no doubt in my mind that the sample insert is a possible match to the insert that was never recovered.

The big question now, is whether any other ammunition uses that insert, or whether S&B made that insert out of a variety of materials.

Here is the Tokarev round (this is a second sample that I sectioned):


01-03-2007, 20:23
OJ - Thanks for the brain teaser. Looks like KCCP wins this one. I should have done better myself. IIRC the .30 Tokarev got a lot of attention a few years ago when large quantities of cheap pistols (TT-33s and CHICOM copies) became available from importers just because of this penetrator round and fears it would "blow right through" soft body armor. I don't recall that those fears were ever realized. Peregrino

Odd Job
01-03-2007, 20:38
@ Peregrino

It is certainly a peculiar thing to see in Johannesburg. I didn't know what that was when I saw the radiograph for the first time. Didn't have a clue.
The guy who put me on the right track is a firearms and toolmarks examiner in Hungary, and the guy who put me in contact with him is a very senior examiner in the AFTE. The Hungarian expert suggested it was a Czech Tokarev round.

However in a recent discussion I had with a cartridge collector in the US, some doubts were raised as to whether the insert is Czech or East German in terms of manufacture. Some Tokarev inserts are cylindrical, according to the collector, and others are shaped like the one in this thread.
The other thing that concerns me is that this insert could possibly be found in rounds other than the 7.62 x 25 sample I have there. If that is the case then I cannot assert that the guy was shot with a Tokarev 7.62 x 25.

01-03-2007, 20:53
That's the ugly thing about trying to advance/prove a hypothesis based on isolated, out of context evidence. A couple of recovered shell casings and a police report from the scene would have made all the difference in your monograph. Probably asking way too much. Let me guess - wrong part of town, no witnesses, no police investigation, and reluctant to cooperate victim. Peregrino

Odd Job
01-03-2007, 21:23
It is even simpler than that. He is a research patient so I was not allowed to ask him questions about the circumstances of the shooting, unless said questions were approved by the Ethics Committee at the university attached to the hospital.

When I applied for a research protocol number, the committee panel went over my protocol and rejected it initially. They didn't have a problem with the X-rays because those are part of his treatment. Any sundry items such as X-rays of clothing were okay as long as I paid for those films. They also didn't mind the photographs as long as I anonymised them and made the appropriate digital removals of identifying marks where necessary.
But...when I mentioned questions about the range and possible weapon involved, they went off like a frog in a sock. They told me that to ask questions like that would be causing the patient undue psychological distress because I would be taking him back to the incident, in his mind. So it was a no-go.
Of the 7 or 8 questions I had originally included in the protocol, the panel only approved one: I was allowed to ask whether there were any intervening materials between the patient and the shooter. Also, if the patient volunteered any information I could use it. Some volunteered lies, some volunteered the truth and some I cannot verify.

This guy said nothing. He got his repair after waiting a week for it (resource shortages) and then he was out of there. I doubt that there is even a police document to do with that case. There isn't any evidence that was collected at the hospital that can be handed in to the police in this case. Even if there was external evidence I would be stepping out of line if I made inquiries about the forensic findings on those items that were not present with the patient at the time of his admission.
My best guess is that the police weren't involved at all. There certainly wasn't an enquiry on the part of the shooter because nobody was sent to the hospital looking for the guy.

So that leaves me with the radiographs. The wounds are not helpful. The shoe is helpful as regards the fragmentation of the round before impact, but it isn't helpful for identification purposes.
However, if no other candidates can be found to match my sample in radiographic appearance, I think I will be on to a winner with that Tokarev insert.

01-04-2007, 06:35
They probably have a knockoff round of their own, and there's no telling what and how many other varients they've came up with. Back when I worked a gunshow or three I seem to recall seeing some old Luger cartridges with inserts that looked like the Tokarev's.

Odd Job
01-05-2007, 16:29
@ kachingchingpow

That's what works against me. These inserts are so rarely seen in the circles I hang around in, that I don't have any cases to compare them to, and I am having to cast my net far and wide to try and find out whether that insert is unique by class characteristics.
That's essentially my task. If I can prove it is unique by class, I can name the possible rounds that could have been involved. If that number is one, then I will successfully identify that ammunition as being 7.62 Tokarev with a steel insert.
It is an unusual case.