Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Forensic Anthropology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Dr. Randall Skelton

Committee Co-chair

Dr. Kirsten Green

Commitee Members

Dr. Dusten Hollist


Pig, AR-15, Skeletal, Trauma, High-velocity, Civilian


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Biological and Physical Anthropology | Other Anthropology


In the last decade, our country has seen an unprecedented wave of terror that has been punctuated by increasing events of gun-related violence. Consequently, the use of firearms against civilians or upon targets containing civilians has inevitably had a direct impact on the health of the individuals affected, and in many cases these events have concluded with mass number fatalities. The driving force for this research falls to the lack of available literature regarding traumatic skeletal injuries associated with high-velocity firearms outside of realm of the military. The effects of these types of weapons on civilians, which result from their specific design and the context in which they are utilized cannot be neglected any further.

This research will attempt to investigate the skeletal tissue trauma inflicted by high-velocity weapon in a civilian context. Two post-mortem pigs were positioned upright and safely fired upon using an AR-15 with Remington .223/55 grain full-metal jacket ammunition from varying distances of 25 yards and 50 yards, respectively. The targeted areas of impact included the right and left extremities, right and left os coxa, portions of the thorax and abdominal regions. A traditional ballistics analysis was completed on the trauma present, including the location, dimensions, fracture type, fracture lines, and beveling (if available). Small bone and bullet fragments were counted and considered as a whole for each sample (if available).

While the sample size for this research is small, the results demonstrate that when subjected to high-velocity AR-15 projectile impact, the trauma to the skeletal tissues is so significant due to complete and comminuted fracturing, that reconstruction is nearly impossible. When the variable of distance is applied to such a high-velocity weapon, the severity of the trauma to the skeletal tissues is so significant that no determination or correlation of the distance was be able to be interpreted from the trauma. Bullet fragments were present only in the examination of the pig exposed to the 25-yard AR-15 impact. However, due to the small sample size, the presence or absence of bullet fragmentation cannot be correlated to distance.



© Copyright 2018 Lauren M. Kenney