SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.
SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY 
REGISTERED UNIT STANDARD: 

Demonstrate an understanding of forensic ballistics examination techniques 
SAQA US ID UNIT STANDARD TITLE
244160  Demonstrate an understanding of forensic ballistics examination techniques 
ORIGINATOR
SGB Forensic Science 
PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QUALITY ASSURANCE FUNCTIONARY
-  
FIELD SUBFIELD
Field 08 - Law, Military Science and Security Safety in Society 
ABET BAND UNIT STANDARD TYPE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL CREDITS
Undefined  Regular  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
REGISTRATION STATUS REGISTRATION START DATE REGISTRATION END DATE SAQA DECISION NUMBER
Reregistered  2018-07-01  2023-06-30  SAQA 06120/18 
LAST DATE FOR ENROLMENT LAST DATE FOR ACHIEVEMENT
2024-06-30   2027-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This unit standard does not replace any other unit standard and is not replaced by any other unit standard. 

PURPOSE OF THE UNIT STANDARD 
The purpose of this Unit Standard is to provide the learner with a background to the underlying principles, methodologies and scientific techniques applied in the field of forensic ballistics. On completion of this unit standard the learner will be able to understand the elementary principles of forensic ballistics examinations.

The learner will understand elementary concepts of firearm, bullet and cartridge identification, individualization and examination as well as impression mark identification and the restoration of obliterated numbers on metals. The learner will have an understanding of the different techniques and methodologies underlying the different forensic ballistic examination approaches and will know what equipment is needed to perform forensic ballistics examinations.

A person credited with this unit standard will be able to:
  • Explain the elementary concepts of firearm identification, individualization and examination.
  • Explain the identification and comparison of bullets.
  • Explain the identification and comparison of cartridges according to forensic ballistics examination principles.
  • Identify equipment used for the identification and comparison of ballistic impressions based on its purpose and function.
  • Explain the identification and individualization of tool marks.
  • Explain the restoration of obliterated numbers on metals through the electro-acid etch process. 

  • LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING 
  • "Demonstrate an understanding of forensic science", ID 242712.
  • "Demonstrate an understanding of the specialised fields in forensic science", ID 242708.
  • "Demonstrate and understanding of the field of forensic ballistics", ID 244150.
  • "Demonstrate and understanding of firearms in the field of forensic ballistics", ID 244151.
  • "Explain the role of ammunition in the field of forensic ballistics", ID 244156.
  • Communication at NQF Level 4.
  • Mathematics at NQF Level 4.
  • Physical Science at NQF Level 4. 

  • UNIT STANDARD RANGE 
    N/A 

    Specific Outcomes and Assessment Criteria: 

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 1 
    Explain the elementary concepts of firearm identification, individualization and examination. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    Rifling methods and class characteristics are explained in terms of its transfer to bullet surfaces. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Rifling methods refer to but are not limited to:
  • Hook cutter rifling, scrape cutter rifling, broach rifling, button rifling and swage (hammer) rifling.

    Class characteristics refer to pre-manufacture firearm blue prints.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    The elementary concepts of striation matching are explained in terms of firearm identification. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Elementary concepts of striation matching refer to but are not limited to:
  • Class characteristics, individual characteristics, accidental characteristics, lines and contours.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Probability theories are explained in the mathematical proof of firearm identification. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Striation matches refer to but are not limited to:
  • Line presence, line number, line character, general contour, percentage of matching lines.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    Shot range and distance determination methodologies are explained in context to forensic firearm examinations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Shot range and distance methodologies refer to but are not limited to:
  • The use of degree of shot or pellet dispersion, scorching, blackening, unburnt and partially burnt propellant particles and bullet wipe marks as well as chemical tests.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 5 
    Methods for determining gun handling are explained in context to forensic firearm examinations. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 6 
    The influence of firearm manufacture on firearm identification and individualization is explained by using examples. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 7 
    Factors influencing identification and individualization of firearms are explained in given situations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Factors refer to but are not limited to:
  • Cartridge case coatings, bullet coatings, sabot, cartridge case damage, bullet damage and firearm factors.
     

  • SPECIFIC OUTCOME 2 
    Explain the identification and comparison of bullets. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    The role of bullet characteristics is explained in forensic firearm identification examinations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Bullet characteristics refer to but are not limited to:
  • Class characteristics, individual characteristics, accidental characteristics and pertinent characteristics and include skid marks, slip marks and shave marks.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Recovery of fired bullets is explained in firearm identification methods. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    The role of microscopes in forensic identification of bullet types is explained. 

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 3 
    Explain the identification and comparison of cartridges according to forensic ballistics examination principles. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    Types of marks on cartridge cases are explained in terms of the firearm component. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Types of marks refer to but are not limited to:
  • Striation and impression marks.

    Firearm component here refer to but are not limited to:
  • Barrel chamber, breech face, firing pin, extractor ejector marks and magazine lip marks.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    The role of cartridge case characteristics is explained in forensic firearm identification examinations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Cartridge case characteristics refer to but are not limited to:
  • Class characteristics, mark characteristics (magazine lip marks, drag marks) individual characteristics, accidental characteristics and pertinent characteristics.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Comparison methodologies for the identification of cartridges are explained in context to forensic ballistics examinations. 

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 4 
    Identify equipment used for the identification and comparison of ballistic impressions based on its purpose and function. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    Tools and instruments used in firearms identification are listed according to their purpose and use. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Tools and instruments refer to but are not limited to:
  • Gun dismantling tools, measuring instruments, digital/optical micrometer, vernier caliper, camera, scale and comparison microscope.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Elementary comparison microscope methodology is explained in terms of its use in forensic ballistic comparisons. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Elementary comparison microscope methodology here refers to but is not limited to:
  • Illumination, photography, control samples, recording and marking of evidence, maintenance and operation and work area.
     

  • SPECIFIC OUTCOME 5 
    Explain the identification and individualization of tool marks. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    Tool marks are characterized according to type and causing factors in context to forensic ballistics examination principles. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Tool marks refers to but are not limited to:
  • Pressure marks, cut marks, striation or scratch marks and tool marks.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Tool mark examination techniques are explained in terms of the evidential value in forensic examinations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Tool mark examination techniques refer to but are not limited to:
  • Tool comparison, test marks and striation impression marks.
     

  • SPECIFIC OUTCOME 6 
    Explain the restoration of obliterated numbers on metals through the electro magnetic process. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    The etching process is explained according to its purpose in forensic investigations. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    The different phases of the etching process are described in context to forensic investigations. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    The etching process methodology is explained in terms of its application in forensic investigations. 


    UNIT STANDARD ACCREDITATION AND MODERATION OPTIONS 
  • Any individual who wishes to be assessed against this unit standard (including assessment of RPL) may apply to an assessment agency, assessor or provider institution accredited by the relevant ETQA, or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Anyone assessing a learner against this unit standard must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA, or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA. Assessors must be competent in the outcome of the unit standard.
  • Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of this unit standard or assessing this unit standard must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Moderation of assessment will be conducted by the relevant ETQA according to the moderation guidelines in the relevant qualification and the relevant ETQA procedures. 

  • UNIT STANDARD ESSENTIAL EMBEDDED KNOWLEDGE 
  • Current and as amended Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977) as substituted by Section 11 of the General Law Sixth Amendment Act (Act 204 of 1993).
  • Current and as amended Civil Proceedings Evidence Act (Act 25 of 1965).
  • Current and as amended Section 212(4) (a) of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977).
  • Current and as amended Inquests Act (Act 58 of 1959).
  • Current and as amended Arms and Ammunition Act (Act 75 of 1969).
  • Current and as amended Dangerous Weapons Act (Act 71 of 1968) and Arms and Ammunition Act (Act 75 of 1969).
  • Current and as amended Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000).
  • Sodium rhodizonate test.
  • Walker test for nitrites.
  • Greiss test.
  • Marshall test.
  • Tewari test.
  • Lunge reagent.
  • Harrison and Gillroy reagent.
  • Cartridge case coatings.
  • Bullet coatings.
  • Cartridge case damage.
  • Firearm factors.
  • Breech face marks.
  • Firing pin marks.
  • Extractor and ejector marks.
  • Magazine lip marks.
  • Fired standards. 

  • UNIT STANDARD DEVELOPMENTAL OUTCOME 
    N/A 

    UNIT STANDARD LINKAGES 
    N/A 


    Critical Cross-field Outcomes (CCFO): 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO IDENTIFYING 
    Identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible decisions, using critical thinking, have been made. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO WORKING 
    Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation or community. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO ORGANISING 
    Organise and manage oneself and one's activities responsibly and effectively. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO COLLECTING 
    Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO COMMUNICATING 
    Communicate effectively using visual, mathematical, and/or language skills in the modes of written and/or oral presentation. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO SCIENCE 
    Use science and technology effectively and critically, show responsibility towards the environment and the health of others. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO DEMONSTRATING 
    Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation. 

    UNIT STANDARD ASSESSOR CRITERIA 
    N/A 

    REREGISTRATION HISTORY 
    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this unit standard was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 

    UNIT STANDARD NOTES 
    Glossary of Terminology:
  • Forensic ballistics refers to the following five fields:
    > Internal ballistics.
    > External ballistics.
    > Intermediate ballistics.
    > Terminal ballistics.
    > Tool marks.
  • Barrel chamber: The rear part of the barrel bore that has been formed to accept a specific cartridge. Revolver cylinders are multi-chambered. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Blackening: Fine carbonaceous material left on a target due to the discharge of a firearm.
  • Breech face: That part of the breechblock or breech bolt which is against the head of the cartridge case or shotshell during firing. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Bullet coatings: Lead alloy bullet having a thin metal alloy coating. Examples: R/P "Golden Bullet" and W/W "Lubaloy. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Bullet wipe mark: Material collected on a bullet during its motion through the barrel of a firearm and left on the target on entering it.
  • Button rifling: A hardened metal plug with a rifled cross section configuration. It is pushed or pulled through a drilled and reamed barrel so as to cold form the spiral grooves to the desired depth and twist. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Class characteristics: A range of characteristics present in all weapons of the same make and model.
  • Comparison microscope: The comparison microscope consists of two independent objective lenses joined together by an optical bridge to a common eyepiece lens.
  • Etch process: A process through which the obliterated numbers in metals can be restored with the assistance of acids and a light electrical current.
  • Extractor ejector marks: Toolmarks produced upon a cartridge or cartridge case from contact with the extractor. These are usually found on or just ahead of the rim. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Firing pin: That part of a firearm mechanism which strikes the primer of a cartridge to initiate ignition. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Gang Broach: A tool having a series of cutting edges of slightly increasing height used to cut the spiral grooves in a barrel. All grooves are cut with a single pass of the broach. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Hook cutter rifling: A cutting tool which has a hook shape and only cuts one groove at a time. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Impression marks: Impression marks can be described as the imprint of a tool mark in a softer material.
  • Individual characteristics: Imperfections caused randomly during the manufacture process or accidental damage which is unique to a weapon.
  • Rifling: A series of spiral grooves cut into the inside of the bore of the barrel to impart a spin to the bullet through its longitudinal axis. (B J Heard, 1997).
  • Sabot: A lightweight carrier in which a subcalibre projectile(s) is centered to permit firing.
    or
  • An enclosure to facilitate the firing of shot usually in a rifled barrel. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Scorching: Scorching is the effect of hot gasses on a target when emerging from the muzzle of a firearm on discharge.
  • Scrape cutter rifling: A cutting tool which cuts two opposing grooves at a time. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Shaving: The cutting of metal from a bullet due to cylinder misalignment in a revolver. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Single Broach: A non-adjustable rifling cutter which cuts all of the grooves simultaneously, and is used in a series of increasing dimensions until the desired groove depth is achieved. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Skid marks: Rifling marks formed on the bearing surface of bullets as they enter the rifling of the barrel before rotation of the bullet starts. Skid marks are typically produced by revolvers and have the appearance of widening of the land impressions at their beginning point. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Stria: Individual microscopic scratch marks on a weapon that is caused by the manufacturing process.
  • Swage (hammer) rifling: An internal mandrel with rifling configuration which forms rifling in the barrel by means of external hammering. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Swarf: Swarf is the small fragments of a bullet that are teared of by the rifling in the barrel of a firearm.
  • Vernier calliper: A measuring instrument having a fixed jaw and a sliding jaw with an attached vernier (short scale). (AFTE Glossary, 2001). 

  • QUALIFICATIONS UTILISING THIS UNIT STANDARD: 
      ID QUALIFICATION TITLE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL STATUS END DATE PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QA FUNCTIONARY
    Elective  57651   National Certificate: Forensic Science  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  Reregistered  2023-06-30  SAS SETA 


    PROVIDERS CURRENTLY ACCREDITED TO OFFER THIS UNIT STANDARD: 
    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
     
    NONE 



    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.