Dr Rachel Bolton-King

Associate Professor in Forensic Science, PhD, BSc (Hons)


Rachel Rachel graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Forensic Science in 2008 (Nottingham Trent University), was awarded her Doctorate in Forensic Firearms Identification and Imaging (Nottingham Trent University) in June 2012 and achieved a Distinction in Postgraduate Certificate in Higher and Professional Education (Staffordshire University) in July 2013.

Rachel’s principal research interests currently lie within the variation and consistency of firearm component manufacture with specific focus on advancing the forensic identification of firearms through the investigation of weapon and rifling characteristics. Additional research currently being undertaken includes the use of 3D imaging and non-contact x-ray examination of corroded and concealed weapons to gather intelligence and assess the potential for forensic evidence recovery.

Previous research interests have been in the chemical analysis of illicit drugs and detection of prohibited compounds in sport. She has published and presented her research at numerous national and international forensic science, higher education and medico-legal conferences in Europe and the United States.

Rachel is the project lead for a number of external ventures working with organisations such as the Forensic Science Society through the successful acquisition of HEFCE funding and I have undertaken research in collaboration with both Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire Firearms Units, Helston Forensics and Cranfield University, for example.

Rachel also runs a series of additional specialised short courses in firearms identification and ballistics at Staffordshire University for individuals both within and external to the university. These cover a wide range of areas within this forensic discipline and involve significant hands-on activity through the use of laboratory practicals and teaching aids.

Professional Memberships

  • Associate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy
  • Technical Advisor for Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners
  • Member of the Chartered Society for Forensic Sciences

Research interests

Rachel’s research interests are in the manufacturing and imaging of ammunition and firearm components with a specific focus on advancing the forensic identification of firearms through the investigation of rifling characteristics and the consistency of chemical and physical manufacturing processes.

Ongoing research projects, in which Rachel intends to publish, include:

  • Investigating the effect and identification of shotgun characteristics using fired cartridge components;
  • Evaluation of the consistency in ammunition manufacturing and associated relationship on external and terminal ballistics;
  • Use of non-destructive x-ray analysis for the examination of corroded/concealed firearms and intelligence gathering;
  • Investigation into holocaust


Bolton-King, R. (2017) Rifling Methods of Factory Fitted 9 mm Luger (9 x 19 mm) Pistol Barrels: A Reference Resource. AFTE Journal, 49 (4). pp. 225-238. ISSN 1048 9959

Bolton-King, R. (2016) Preventing miscarriages of justice: A review of forensic firearm identification. Science & Justice, 56 (2). pp. 129-142. ISSN 1355-0306

Bolton-King, R., and Jackson, A. (2014) Personal Competency Testing in Firearms-Related Forensic Disciplines: A UK Study. CS Eye, 1.

Bolton-King, R and Schulze, J. (2016) Firearms and Ballistics. In: Practical Veterinary Forensics edited by David Bailey. CABI, CAB International, Wallingford, UK, pp. 81-117. ISBN 9781780642949

Bolton-King, R.S. (2013). ‘Widening Participation: Are we Prepared for our Students?’, Innovative Practice in Higher Education Journal, 1, 3 (online).

Bolton-King, R.S., et al. (2012). ‘Numerical Classification of Curvilinear Structures for the Identification of Pistol Barrels’, Forensic Science International, July, 220, 1-3, pp. 197 – 209.

Bolton-King, R.S., et al. (2012). ‘Manufacturing of 9 x 19 mm SIG Sauer Pistols’ AFTE Journal, Winter, 44, 1, pp 19 – 28.

Bolton-King, R.S., et al. (2010). ‘What are the Prospects of 3D Profiling Systems applied to Firearms and Toolmark Identification?’, AFTE Journal, Winter, 42, 1, pp 23 – 33;

Bolton-King, R.S., et al. (2010). ‘An Evaluation of Ballistic Imaging Techniques’, The Forensic Technology Review, pp 6 – 12 (online).

Complete List of Publications


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