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In an episode of CSI Miami a sniper uses ammunition with a thin plastic coating between the bullet and the shell casing. supposedly when fired the plastic coating is shredded or destroyed, but the bullet has no striation marks that could be matched to the rifle that shot it (I'm not holding my breath because, well- CSI Miami).

Could this work? Are there any obvious flaws in the idea? Is this even actually done IRL?

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This would only work is if the bullet was saboted, which means that the bullet would be encased in a thick layer of plastic or light metal peeling away once the bullet exits the barrel.

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While this may be what the shows writers may have been thinking of, the description that you provided suggests the shows producers really didn't understand the subject at all.

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Since the gas sealing and induced spinning of a rifled round requires the round to engage the rifling, a thin layer of plastic will not serve (it will probably peel off inside the barrel and the normal copper jacket will engage the rifling). The other thing which the show seems to have glossed over is the criminologists (the guys in the full white protective suit who isn't in the show) would be scouring the area and probably discover the pieces of saboting. From there is a short matter to examine the pieces and find the rifling marks.

TL:DR Don't use CSI as a way to find ways to beat the cops.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why do you think I said I was not holding my breath? $\endgroup$ – king of panes Jul 30 '16 at 1:01
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The plastic coating seems like a dumb idea, but the sniper is not required to use a rifle. There are guns that that have smoothbore barrels and aerodynamically stabilized ammunition. Here is an example. I doubt it makes sense for smaller calibres, but you specifically wanted a sniper weapon.

That said not having rifling on what remains of the bullet is of limited value when you are the only person on the continent who had the necessary weapon unaccounted for. It is generally better to just use a common and unregistered weapon and dispose of it afterwards. You can use special ammunition that explodes or fragments on impact, but if you are too attached to your gun to dispose of it, you shouldn't use it to commit murders.

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They make polymer coated bullets. The webpage shows a picture of fired rounds which clearly shows rifling marks. In this case, the polymer coating serves to keep everything together in order to reduce lead dust and shrapnel hazards at indoor firing ranges.

fired polymer bullets

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