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Forensic Optical Topography: Landscape Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2016
39 pages

This report provides a "landscape" view of currently commercially available optical topography systems for firearms identification, along with a basic introduction to this technology.


Five types of information are provided: 1) background information on advances in optical topography for forensic practice; 2) issues to consider that are related to optical topography information; 3) a comparison of the capabilities of available optical topography systems; 4) exemplary cases that illustrate successful adoption; and 5) a summary of considerations that will impact the adoption, procurement, training, and validation of optical topography systems for firearms identification. In developing this landscape study, the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) convened an Optical Topography Working Group, which includes firearms examiners, researchers, and industry representatives; conducted research on secondary sources, including journal and industry literature, to obtain information related to the need, successful use, developmental validation, and adoption criteria; discussed the technology's state-of-the-art with subject-matter experts; and documented, summarized, and released key findings to the crime laboratories and forensic community for review and suggestions. 4 tables, glossary, and detailed product specifications

Date Published: December 1, 2016