Bogus Buff Ballistics

In any normal murder case, evidence as strong as the firearms evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald would virtually guarantee conviction. Thus writers wanting to get Oswald off the hook have to explain how this apparently very strong evidence doesn't really show the guilt of their boy Lee.

To make their case, the conspiracy authors have to invent a number of "principles" that sound plausible, but in fact are contrary to what real ballistics experts know to be true. Let's look at some of these.

Factoid: Damage to the windshield of the presidential limo indicated it had been hit from the front, and not from a bullet fired from behind.

In fact, the evidence indicates that the windshield was hit by a fragment from behind.

Factoid: The bullet fired at General Walker was a "steel-jacketed" bullet, and could not have been fired from Oswald's Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.

The bullet matched Oswald's rifle in "class characteristics," and therefore could well have been fired from his rifle. However the bullet was badly mangled, and no positive identification was possible.

Factoid: The rifle recovered on the sixth floor of the Depository was in fact a Mauser, and not a Mannlicher-Carcano, such as Oswald owned.

The recovery of the rifle was filmed by Tom Alyea of WFAA-TV, and his footage shows the rifle to be a Mannlicher-Carcano. Here is one frame from his footage, and here is another. In fact, a Mannlisher-Carcano could easily be mistaken for a Mauser.

Factoid: Oswald's rifle had a "hair-trigger" and would have been very difficult to fire accurately.

The rifle did not have a "hair-trigger," and could indeed be fired accurately.

Factoid: Oswald had to have taken time to wipe the prints off the rifle, making it impossible for him to have made it downstairs soon enough for his confrontation with Officer Baker.

There were in fact two smudged prints on the trigger guard of Oswald's rifle, and the wooden parts of the gun were too rough to take prints. It is not, in fact, very common to find usable fingerprints on firearms used in crimes.

Factoid: The scope on the MC was "mounted for a left-handed shooter."

There in fact is no such thing as a "scope mounted for a left-handed shooter."

Factoid: The paraffin test showed that Oswald had not fired a rifle.

The paraffin test was unreliable, and produced both false positives and false negatives. Its only real use was to intimidate naive suspects into confessing.

Factoid: Oswald's rifle was not tested to see whether it had been recently fired.

There was not, and still is not, any test that can determine whether a rifle has been "recently fired."

Factoid: The dented shell casing found in the depository shows a conspiracy, since it could not have been fired from Oswald's gun.

The casing was almost certainly dented when it was ejected from the rifle, since the Mannlicher-Carcano regularly dents ejected hulls.

Factoid: The Mannlicher-Carcano had no ammunition clip with it, which means that it could have fired only one round, and not the three that the Warren Commission said it did.

Although poorly documented, the clip was with the rifle when it was recovered, and remained in evidence.

Factoid: The Mannlicher-Carcano was known in the Italian Army as the "humanitarian rifle" because it never harmed anybody.

The rifle was the standard Italian Army issue for a half-century, and was an effective infantry weapon.

Factoid: The Mannlicher-Carcano had a rusty firing pin, and therefore could not have been used to shoot Kennedy.

In a variety of tests, the firing pin proved perfectly functional.

Factoid: The Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was "well-oiled" and would have left oil on the paper bag had the bag been used to carry it to the Depository.

Only the firing pin and sping were described as "well-oiled." Further, a "well-oiled" gun does not drip oil, but rather has a thin but uniform coating of oil on the working parts.

Factoid: Ammunition for the Mannlicher-Carcano had not been manufactured since World War II therefore no reliable rounds would have been available to Oswald.

The ammunition was in fact recently manufactured by the Western-Cartridge Company, and was found to be highly reliable in Warren Commission tests, with no misfires in over 100 rounds (Warren Commission Report, pp. 193, 646). Further tests by Lattimer and Nichols confirmed its reliability.

Factoid: The Mannlicher-Carcano was inaccurate.

Ronald Simmons, of the Army's Ballistics Research Laboratory, bench tested Oswald's rifle for the Warren Commission, and found the dispersion to be .29 mils a figure typical for high-powered rifles and described it as "quite accurate" (3H442-443).

Factoid: Commission Exhibit 399 (the "magic bullet") is "pristine."

In fact, the bullet is quite misshapen when viewed end-on.

Factoid: Even if it is not pristine CE399 could not have caused all the non-fatal wounds and emerge in such good condition.

Ballistics tests by Lattimer and Fackler showed that a bullet like Oswald's round could inflict damage similar to what the Warren Commission's "Single Bullet" inflicted and emerge in similar condition.

Factoid: There was too much lead in John Connally to have come from CE399, showing that another bullet must have hit him.

The surgeon who removed the lead explained that the fragments were tiny, and would have to be weighed on the same sort of scale used to weigh a postage stamp. House Select Committee experts felt they could have come from CE399.

Factoid: The hulls found at the scene of the Tippit shooting were from an automatic weapon, not the revolver Oswald is supposed to have used.

Cops on the scene, finding hulls laying around, jumped to the conclusion that they must have been fired from an automatic, which automatically ejects spent cartridges. In fact, witnesses saw Oswald emptying hulls from the revolver.

Factoid: The bullets found in Tippit's body "didn't match" Oswald's revolver.

They were perfectly consistent with Oswald's revolver, but because the revolver had been converted from a .38 into a .38 Special, no bullet fired from it could be positively matched to it.

Factoid: The fact that the bullet that hit JFK in the head fragmented showed that it wasn't a full metal jacket bullet, and thus didn't match the rounds supposedly fired by Oswald.

Olivier (for the Warren Commission) and John Lattimer (a private researcher) shot skulls with rounds identical to those Oswald used, and the bullets fragmented.

Factoid: The bullet wound in Kennedy's throat was smaller in diameter than the 6.5 mm. caliber of Oswald's rifle, indicating it must have been fired from a different weapon.

This assertion is based on selective use of the testimony of the doctors who saw the wound, and who in fact gave varying estimates. However, it is possible for a bullet to pass through the skin and leave a defect smaller than the diameter of the bullet.

Return to Kennedy Assassination Home Page