Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Pilot Study of Automated Bullet Signature Identification Based on Topography Measurements and Correlations



Wei Chu, Jun-Feng Song, Theodore V. Vorburger, James H. Yen, Susan M. Ballou, Benjamin Bachrach


A procedure for automated bullet signature identification is described based on topography measurements using confocal microscope and correlations calculation. Automated search and retrieval systems are widely used for comparison of firearms evidence. In this study, 48 bullets fired from six different barrel manufacturers are classified into different groups based on the width class characteristic for each land engraved area of the bullets. Then the cross-correlation function is applied both for automatic selection of the effective correlation area, and for the extraction of a 2D bullet profile signature. Based on the cross-correlation maximum values, a list of top ranking candidates against a ballistics signature database of bullets fired from the same model firearm is developed. The correlation results show 9.3 % higher accuracy rate compared with a currently used commercial system based on optical reflection. This suggests that correlation results can be improved using the sequence of methods described here.
Journal of Forensic Sciences


forensic science, ballistics identification, class characteristics, individual characteristics, cross correlation function


Chu, W. , Song, J. , Vorburger, T. , Yen, J. , Ballou, S. and Bachrach, B. (2010), Pilot Study of Automated Bullet Signature Identification Based on Topography Measurements and Correlations, Journal of Forensic Sciences, [online], (Accessed June 14, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created February 28, 2010, Updated June 24, 2021