Monday, October 27, 2008


by Ben Small

How would you like to commit a murder and fool the crime lab into believing that the murder weapon could not have fired the fatal shot? In other words, how would you like to create a new ballistics setup on your murder gun?

Think of all the fun you could have: arrest, booking, fingerprints, and collaborations with the Bluto Brothers in the holding tank. Then you walk free ― okay, so maybe you’re a bit sore and bowlegged ― and you sue for false arrest, harassment, deprivation of civil rights, and personal injury.

You recover big bucks, retire to Palm Springs and live a life of luxury.

Not bad, eh? And if you get lonely, you’ve got the Bluto Brothers’ phone number in your back pocket.

How is this miracle achieved?

You can thank Otis Technology, Inc., a company that makes gun cleaning systems. They’ve got a new product: Lifeliner. And it comes in a tube. It’s a nano-ceramic fusion lifetime gun bore liner.

Michael-Crichton-ish stuff.

Take an old Mosin, Mauser, or Model 70 Winchester, or a handgun for that matter, and shoot somebody. Anybody. Doesn’t have to be the friend who seduced your wife or the paperboy who keeps throwing your paper into the jumping cholla in your front yard. You’re free to be creative here.

Then go out to the range and apply Otis’ Lifeliner to the barrel. Apply this goop also to a bullet. Then fire the weapon and clean it. Reapply the goop, fire, and clean. Do this ten times or until all the Lifeliner has been used. Ballistically, you’ve got a new barrel, at least new enough to fool Quincy.

Yes, the bore’s lands and grooves are the same, and yes, those lands and grooves make identifying marks on a bullet. But other bore scratches, rust spots, and imperfections make marks on that bullet, too. And it’s these marks, all of them, that are used in matching a bullet to a specific gun in ballistics testing.

So what we’ve got after Lifeliner application is a new barrel bore. A bullet passing through now will not look the same as one that passed through the untreated bore.

Yippee-ki-ay, Quincy’s going to lose his mind today.

Yes, the lands and grooves are the same, so some markings will be similar, but most others, the ones which give distinctive patterning to each bullet, will have changed.

Applied in an aerosolized liquid form, atomic sized particles have embedded themselves in the metal surface of the bore and formed a ceramic metal fusion composite that nears 80 Rockwell hardness, effectively nearly 800% harder than the best chromium plated barrels available. Friction is reduced and the bullet slides through the barrel faster and more accurately.

And there will be new passage patterns on the bullet.

Ballistics, smallistics. Quincy’s gonna have a headache.

Of course, you could avoid all this by using a fragmenting bullet, like a .223 round or a hollow point. It’s hard to analyze those bullets, because fragmenting bullets spread out and break apart, sending fragments everywhere, and a hollow point flattens to a slug upon impact.

But what fun is that? Ball ammo passes right through a body and carries on to hit bystanders. In Obama’s language, this is called “spreading the wealth.”

So I can shoot my neighbor on the way to the range, and by the time I return, my gun has a new barrel, or at least one that will test new or different during ballistics testing.


Now the trick to this thing is to use your oldest or worst cared for gun, the one you bought out of a crate for seventy bucks, the one which hasn’t been fired since WW II, the one you cleaned only to be sure there wasn’t some obstruction that would cause the barrel to blow up in your face.

Use that gun on your neighbor or your paperboy, not your new gun. Use your head here. Lifelining a clean new bore may change nothing. The key to this trick is the difference between a bullet shot out of an old, dirty, dinged up bore and one shot out of a new or changed bore.

Viva la difference, dummy.

Sure Quincy could cut up the barrel and determine that its molecular structure had changed since the 1930s, but Quincy couldn’t prove when the change was performed, nor could he shoot out of the barrel in its prior unaltered state.


And the best thing: It’s a ceramic bore.

Doesn’t that mean it’s microwave safe?


Jean Henry Mead said...

LOL, Ben. When and where do you think up this stuff?

Beth Terrell said...

Ben, I Googled it, and I still can't believe it's real. THIS is what do with nanotechnology? Is this some gargantuan cyberprank?

Good stuff for us mystery writers, scary stuff for us plain ol' folks.

Ben Small said...

That one came up as a wild hair. Had a shooting buddy over yesterday and showed him the product. I'd bought some because I've got a collection of old rifles, and I thought I might refresh the barrels of a couple of them. My friend is a chemistry teacher and expert witness. We started discussing what this stuff could do to an old barrel, accuracy and velocity enhancement for instance, and being a mystery writer, I posed some questions and theories of ballistics analysis, the metallurgical differences and likely different bullet markings. My friend agreed, thought I might be on to something. Then I figured, hey, maybe I can make some hay with this from a mystery writer's standpoint. Simple as that.

Funny thing is, while most weeks I labor over what to write about, this idea popped out of yesterday's discussion.

It's a cool product, and I can't wait to see what it does to an old Mosin Nagant barrel.

Ben Small said...

It's real. Otis makes good stuff. I've got their cleaning kit, which is compact, yet will handle any form of firearm. It's top of the line. And I bought this stuff. I'm trying to decide which rifle needs it the most.

There's a huge market for army surplus rifles of all makes. Both for collector's items and to shoot. And if one is buying a rifle to shoot, one wants the rifle to be accurate. A poorly maintained rifle will not be accurate. This stuff energizes old barrels, which is why people buy it. Only us mystery-loving deviants :<) think of other uses.

Heh, heh, heh.