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Author Topic: Tokarev Steel Insert - is the shape unique?  (Read 27562 times)

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Offline Brandon Bertolli

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Tokarev Steel Insert - is the shape unique?
« on: December 23, 2004, 04:36:07 PM »
Before I ask my question I must thank Scott Doyle (well known here) and Emil Hamza from the Institute of Forensic Sciences in Budapest, for helping me with this case.
Summary: a young man sustained a gunshot wound to the L ankle. He is a research subject so I am not allowed to ask him any questions, so I don't know the circumstances of the shooting. When I X-rayed him I found a curious projectile lodged in his tibia (I've attached the radiograph). Some time ago Scott asked whether anyone could identify that projectile based on its radiological appearances alone (because we could not retrieve it from the patient at the hospital) and after a few replies Emil Hamza suggested that it looked like a Czech 7.62mm Tokarev insert. I was able to get sample bullets from Lyn and Graeme Clarke of Sporting Services, UK, and I cut one in half to see if the contour was a match to the X-ray contour. See the first attached picture.
There is no doubt that the contours are a match (taking into account X-ray magnification factors), but my question is this:

Are there any other inserts with that same contour, besides those found in Tokarev bullets? The sample is a Sellier and Bellot, by the way.

If there are no other inserts with that configuration I can positively assert that the patient was shot with 7.62 x 25 Tokarev ammunition, with steel insert. This is important because it affects the analysis and X-rays I have of the shoe he was wearing at the time.
Brandon Bertolli, Radiographer, bbertolli(at)

Offline Paul Murphy

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Tokarev Steel Insert - is the shape unique?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2004, 01:33:11 PM »
I know of some 9mm Luger Czech ammunition that have a steel insert/penetrator like the one you are describing.  The insert has the following measurements : Length .517" thickness of shaft .280" and thickness of "head" section .307" and weight is 51 grs (grain).  The consruction is very similar and is from a steel jacketed 100 grs (grain) bullet loaded in a green laquered steel 9mm luger cartridge case with a bxn  -  + 5 51 headstamp.  BXN is Czech military factory post-1950.  Believed to be the old Sellier & Bellot factory at Vlasim.  I also saw some commercial Sellier & Bellot ammunition manufactured in the 1980/1990's era with similar penetrators and there are some Russian 9 x 18 mm Makarov military ammunition with steel inserts/penetrators.
Paul J Murphy
Vrginia Division of Forensic Science
Eastern Laboratory Firearms/Toolmarks Section
Norfolk, Virginia
Paul Murphy

Offline Brandon Bertolli

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Tokarev Steel Insert - is the shape unique?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2004, 07:43:32 PM »
Dear Paul

Thanks for the information: I will look into those other inserts (do you have measurements for all of them by any chance?).

More info on the complete Tokarev insert I have here:

Length: 0.54" (13.71mm)
Shaft Diameter: 0.224" (5.69mm)
Bulge Diameter: 0.267" (6.78mm)
Weight: 41.8 gn

The complete Tokarev bullet weighs 85.4 gn

Today I X-rayed an intact Tokarev insert at various angles, supported by a radiolucent sponge, and I was able to duplicate almost exactly the radiological appearance of the insert in the victim's ankle. In the attached picture, A is the original ankle radiograph, cropped to the insert and rotated so we have a vertical insert axis. B and C are radiographs of the sample insert I have here, taken at an exposure of 55kV and 5mAs. This is an equivalent exposure to what was used to produce the radiograph of the ankle. Note that the photographs do not represent the X-ray beam angle, the X-ray beam was perpendicular to the cassette surface upon which the insert rested in each case. The radiographs have been rotated so that the insert image axis is vertical, to facilitate comparison.

It is my view that the insert in the ankle matches the insert that I X-rayed today, which is a Tokarev insert. I think the equivalent angle of the insert relative to the X-ray cassette is somewhere between what you see in B and C in order to match exactly the radiographic appearances in A. Nevertheless I am confident that the insert in the victim's ankle is identical to the one I X-rayed.

What this tells me, is that if I am to consider any other proposal for a likely candidate to substitute for the Tokarev insert in this case, it will have to have the exact same dimensions as the sample I have X-rayed, and also the same radiological density (made from the same metal).

It seems to me that unless those same inserts are used in another type of bullet, the victim who was shot in the ankle was hit by components of a Tokarev bullet with a steel insert.
Brandon Bertolli, Radiographer, bbertolli(at)


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