U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NIST Ballistics Toolmark Research Database

NCJ Number
Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Volume: 125 Issue: Article No. 125004 Dated: 2020
Date Published
6 pages

This article describes the features and uses of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) Ballistics Toolmark Research Database.


The NIST Ballistics Toolmark Research Database (NBTRD) is an open access database that provides data on 3D topography and 2D image data on bullet, cartridge case, and toolmark surface to facilitate sharing among researchers, so that new systems, methods, and algorithms can be tested, refined, and compared. The database also provides the representative variety of toolmark data required, ranging from crime lab test fires to test fires conducted using consecutively manufactured barrels, firing pins, slides, and other firearm surfaces. The database contains both reflectance microscopy images and three-dimensional surface topography data, along with all its relevant metadata. The database enables researchers to test new approaches to objective, mathematics-based, toolmark identification while easing the transition to three-dimensional surface topography data. It provides a foundation for a scientific knowledge base on the degree of similarity that can be found between marks made by different firearms and the variability in marks made by an individual firearm. 1 figure and 5 references

Date Published: January 1, 2020