U.S. flag

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

Firearms Examiner Training

Touch DNA Evidence

Home  |  Glossary  |  Resources  |  Help  |  Contact Us  |  Course Map

Touch DNA Evidence

A DNA profile may be obtained by swabbing items thought to have been handled by a suspect, even in the absence of visible evidence. The ability to preserve and obtain this touch DNA evidence has evolved and been recognized over recent years.

Photo of a hand holding a phone
Touch DNA source
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

Laboratory protocol will dictate who will collect this evidence. Firearm, latent print, or DNA examiners may have responsibility for collection. Regardless of who collects the evidence, the firearm or item to be swabbed should be handled with gloves prior to and during swabbing for potential touch DNA evidence.

Touch DNA evidence may be obtained from a firearm handled by a suspected shooter. Surfaces of the firearms that may be swabbed include slide serrations, serrated triggershammers, grips, magazine releases, and safety levers. The DNA swabs are preserved and packaged for later testing, if required.

Back Forward