A 2.95" High Explosive Projectile.

Historic Munitions Identification

ACR has an extensive resource collection for identifying historic and modern munitions, including small arms ammunition. The collection includes technical publications, identification guides, and comparative specimens. Our staff possess are particular knowledgeable about 19th century U.S. military munitions. In addition to identifying munitions, ACR often teams with individuals to perform more specialized analysis. This includes retaining forensic and ballistics technicians to identify tool mark and rifling characteristics on percussion caps, cartridge cases, and bullets. This forensic analysis permitted ACR to trace individual firearms across a historic battlefield.

Forensic analysis revealed that this .44-caliber Henry cartridge case (right) was struck 4 times before the bullet was discharged.

Current munitions-related projects, being completed by ACR staff, include:

  • Developing a database detailing the measurement of the three main spencer cartridges (56/56, 56/52, and 56/50) used by the U.S. Army.  The database includes detailed measurements of the cartridge cases and bullets and includes physical dimensions and bullet weights. 

  • Developing a database of individual tool mark characteristics on cartridge cases recovered from battlefields.  The system is similar to the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) used by law enforcement, but is tailored specifically to historic ammunition recovered from archaeological sites.

  • Developing an inventory of ordnance (artillery and small arms) known to have been used on battlefields in the western U.S.