Firing Pin Shapes | To Glock or Not to Glock…
Author: Andrew Boyle
New manufacturing developments with Glock firearms have brought forward the question of when “Glock” should be selected as the Firing Pin Shape while creating an IBIS cartridge case exhibit. To give the most comprehensive answer, we first have to review the philosophy behind how IBIS is used.
While the end result of IBIS searches is ultimately used by firearm examiners to link previously unconnected crimes, the IBIS system was designed to be operated by a technician-level user first. An expert-level firearm examiner would then only be needed for final confirmation.
As such, when technician-level users are classifying the Firing Pin Shape, they should be asking themselves “What does this look like?” rather than “What could have fired this?”, the former being a basic assessment of the shape in front of them and the latter being more analytical in nature, requiring the more advanced knowledge set of a firearm examiner.
Determining the Firing Pin Shape from the dropdown list must only be based on the features present on the exhibit in-hand, as opposed to assumptions about the gun that may
FIRING PIN SHAPE: GLOCK
For an exhibit to be classified with a “Glock” Firing Pin Shape, there must be an elliptical firing pin impression surrounded by rectangular flowback.
The only firearms currently known to produce these markings are Glock, Smith & Wesson’s Sigma series of pistols and, more recently, Springfield Armory’s XDS9 pistol. Regardless of the make of the firearm, these would be classified as having the Firing Pin Shape: Glock.
In 2014, Glock modified its manufacturing process resulting in new breech face and firing pin markings.
This began with their Model 42 and 43 pistols, in 380 Auto and 9 mm Parabellum respectively,but there is reason to believe more Glock models will be produced in this new style as time goes on.
Update: We now know that this trend continues in Glock’s Gen 5 series of pistols.
FIRING PIN SHAPE: CIRCLE
The elliptical-shaped firing pin has been replaced with one that is more round in nature, though it does seem to have a flat edge at the 9 o’clock position when orientated for IBIS acquisition. Also gone is the rectangular flowback, which has been replaced with a shear mark extending to the left of the firing pin impression. With only these features to go by, these cartridge cases should be classified and acquired into IBIS as Firing Pin Shape: Circle.
Note, there will be an urge to classify these as “Glock” when test fires are taken in your laboratory with a Glock pistol in hand. However, a technician should always assume that he or she is dealing with a crime scene scenario where cartridge cases were recovered but no weapon was found. If cartridge cases with these markings are classified in IBIS as “Glock” when test fired but classified as “Circle” when recovered from crime scenes, the laboratory will create a system environment where no matches will be found between cartridge case evidence and recovered weapons. The rule must be to classify the Firing Pin Shape according only to the markings present on the primer’s surface regardless of the make/model of the gun that fired it—even if that is known.