Cartridges Used in Crimes


The following was sent to me by a friend and provides interesting information on the types of ammunition used in crimes.


[quote]Thanks for an interesting question. There have been several studiesdone regarding the specific caliber of weapon used in various crimes.A study done in by the University of Pennsylvania showed that, in

In 1985, of 91 homicides
44% .38 caliber revolver
19% .25 caliber pistol
14% .22 caliber revolver
14% .32 caliber revolver
3% 9 mm pistol
2% .357 caliber revolver

In 1990, of 204 homicides
23% 9 mm pistol
18% .38 caliber revolver
16% .357 caliber revolver
16% .22 caliber revolver
10% .32 caliber revolver

"The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services studied 844 homicides that occurred in 18 jurisdictions from 1989 through 1991.
Firearms were identified as the murder weapon in 600 cases. Over 70%of the firearms used were handguns. Of those handguns where the caliber and firing action could be identified,
19% were a .38 caliber revolver,
10% were .22 caliber revolvers,
9% were 9 millimeter

semiautomatic pistols.
"The Hawaii Department of the Attorney General, Crime Prevention Division, studied 59 firearms-related homicides in Honolulu from 1988 to 1992. Handguns were used in 48 homicides (over 80%) including:
11 handguns of 9 millimeter caliber,
10 of .357 caliber,
10 of .38caliber
5 of .25 caliber.
"Guns Used in Crime … 0Crime.htm



So, does this mean the .32 ACP is never used in mayhem? Jack


Jack et al,

Doesn’t surprise me that in recent years - the last twenty or thrity, the .32 auto pistol probably doesn’t figure in many crimes. There really are not a lot of them kicking around any more, other than in collections. The bad guys go for what is easy to find on the street (stolen) generally speaking, and the calibers shown are what I would expect. Frankly, I would have thought .22s were used more often than they seem to be. Gang killings skew the statistics, as a lot of the gang bangers seem to go for what is trendy - so not suprising the later statistics show more 9 mms.

I am surprised that the .380 auto doesn’t seem to be in those statistics, however. Nor doesd the .45 auto.

Street-smart bad guys probably go more for revolvers - no fired cases left around in most instances.

John Moss


The posting had more information that related to the type of handguns found, but I didn’t post it. the 380 Lorcin was one of the popular pistols. Remember these are just data points from a specific place and time. I’m sure it varies considerably by area and over time. Trying to correlate this data is probably a waste of time.

Remember the cartridge data in the original post was related to homicides while the California data related to caliber of guns taken in evidence (regardless of the cartridge type) and the DOJ data is different because it is makes and models of guns used in crimes.

I can see a lot more people being shot with a .22 but not as many homicides. There are also a lot of different types of .22 handguns so no particular model made the DOJ list. Interesting data (to me) but must be taken in context.

[quote]Handguns Taken in Evidence in California, 1993
5,222 - .22
4,693 - .25
1,477 - .32
4,842 - .380
4,671 - .38
5,295 - 9mm
2,395 - .357
1,787 - .45

An Analysis of Justice Department Data top 10 guns used in crimes in the United States, according to an
unpublished Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms report:

  1. Smith and Wesson .38 revolver
  2. Ruger 9 mm semiautomatic
  3. Lorcin Engineering .380 semiautomatic
  4. Raven Arms .25 semiautomatic
  5. Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun
  6. Smith and Wesson 9mm semiautomatic
  7. Smith and Wesson .357 revolver
  8. Bryco Arms 9mm semiautomatic
  9. Bryco Arms .380 semiautomatic
  10. Davis Industries .380 semiautomatic



It’s hard to believe that the 1477 .32 caliber handguns taken in evidence in 1993 were overwhelmingly revolvers. Jack


This link is direct from the FBI website and shows stats for all U.S. law enforcement officers feloniously killed (not accidental) from 1999 - 2008: (A pretty good gauge for guns used in crimes in general)
For the firearms crimes it shows many tables of data on point of entry, caliber, distance from assailant, whether they were armed, uniformed, time of day, wearing body armor, etc…

The stat that I found interesting was the table showing officers killed via body armor penetration. When you compare the tables of officers killed by certain calibers, and then the kills when body armor was penetrated, you never find more kills through body armor than there were kills via a rifle caliber except for 2005. So apparently there is not a rash of thugs equipped with cop-killer pistol bullets running around shooting cops, contrary to what Bill Clinton, Daniel Patrick Moynehan and Chuck Schumer used to like to have us believe. In table 41 it shows that the caliber from 2005 was a 9mm, and I am guessing that this was either body armor failure, or something like the defective Zylon material was to blame, and not armor piercing 9mm ammunition, but it does not elaborate.


Without trying to go to far off topic, and via a friend who knows the founder of the “Second Chance” company, the 22LR RN and 9x19 Ball ammo are the 2 rounds that would most often defeat the early “soft armor”. This was due mainly to the nose shape pushing the weave aside instead of catching it.


I’m sure I read somewhere before that 90% of shootings (either fatal or non-fatal) in the USA were done with .22LR. Obviously that statistic was incorrect.

Recently these converted Baikal tear gas pistols have been turning up in the UK. They are smuggled in from Lithuania. I am unsure as to whether they are rifled are not, some sources seem to suggest they are. They were apparently originally chambered for 8mm teargas rounds but have been re-barreled to fire 9x18 Makarov ball. I can’t be sure of any of this as the media often doesn’t knwo what they are talking about where are concerned.


Without trying to go to far off topic, and via a friend who knows the founder of the “Second Chance” company, the 22LR RN and 9x19 Ball ammo are the 2 rounds that would most often defeat the early “soft armor”. This was due mainly to the nose shape pushing the weave aside instead of catching it.[/quote]

Back when the Kevlar grade was lower in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s this was possible. Also since the threat level was usually NIJ level IIa which was only 18 layers of the early Kevlar material, the protection was low. These days the grade is higher, and the threat level worn by officers is almost always higher, like level II or level IIIa with more layers of Kevlar. Then there is Spectra (Dyneema) which is all around better at any level and is in many vests today.


Good ole .45 ACP does not seem to be of much interest to the “bad ones”. Must be they know you have to be a little smart to use a .45 …and they ain’t!//


I also find it interesting that the 7.62x25 is virtually unheard of in crimes, which tends to poke holes in the “Saturday night special” theory that inexpensive pistols are nothing but fodder for criminals. CZ52’s and Tokarev TT’s are (were) very inexpensive, and had very inexpensive ammo.


The one from a shooting yesterday was a .25acp…first one I’ve seen in a while. I told my Sgt that if anyone ever shot me with one and I found out about it, I’d be really angry!

  1. What I see day to day on the giving and receiving end are predominantly modern semi-autos.

  2. Many gun stats are purposefully skewed. A good example is that if I confiscate a pistol from a CHL holder (for a felony DWI w/child for instance), any smart hippie will snatch that up for his pile of ‘gun crimes’, even though it doesn’t qualify for the purpose of tracking violent criminal offenses.

  3. Spectra has its own set of problems, and pure Spectra vests are easily defeated by their ‘rated’ projectiles outside the NIJ test protocols. The Germans and the FBI have their own, much more realistic and telling armor testing protocols. Dyneema and some other compressed synthetics like the ones in my entry shield don’t lend themselves well to concealable soft armor. Good old Kevlar 129 is the most durable soft armor substance I’ve tested. There are lighter, thinner items that pass NIJ tests, but I like my armor comforting rather than comfortable. (None of it is comfortable, by the way…even the old Level II ‘t-shirt’ armor is a PITA). Some new weaves, laminates, and coatings show promise.

  4. DK, I think I have add’l info on that 9mmP armor defeat…I’ll try to dig it up and post it or email it to you. Another Zylon defeat in CA (don’t recall the year) was with a standard .40SW FMJ pill.

  5. I’ve run into very few smart bad guys, but then again the smart ones don’t get caught! I’ve never run into any career criminal who had any specialized firearms or ammunition knowledge…lots of flash (12ga w/laser sight, etc.), trash (Sat. night specials, Lorcin, FIEs), and bash (stolen guns that have had multiple criminal ‘owners’ and don’t even function properly but are great for sticking in people’s faces). Most of what the offenders think they know are typical gun-store lies and media falsehoods. I do my best not to educate them.


As an aside I have doubts about the British figures for gun crime. figures published in this country have included things like windows broken by air guns and suicides. These distort the true nature of gun crime and have been used to distort the figures to show that gun crime is on the increase when the number of true incidents actually shows a decrease.