Introduction to Firearms and Toolmarks


This online course is being offered as an introductory level course designed to give the student a basic understanding of firearm and toolmark identification. The units found within this course will cover the history of firearm and ammunition development, classification of firearms and ammunition components, test firing, proper methods of evidence collection, laboratory testing, microscopic identification, and much more.

Cost: $150.00. This course takes 25 hours to complete, on average. (AVAILABLE SPRING 2015)


Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Follow the process of identifying a particular firearm.
  • Discuss each of the cartridge case components.
  • Properly collect and preserve firearm evidence from a crime scene.
  • Describe the different laboratory tests that are performed for firearm related evidence.
  • Explain the creation and examination of toolmarks.
  • Discuss expert witness testimony in regards to firearm evidence.

Course Structure and Schedule

This is a non-credit course offering 4.36 ILUs. (What is ILU?) Average completion time for the course is 25 hours. The course cost is $150.00 per registration. A certificate of completion will be issued to students successfully meeting course requirements.  (AVAILABLE SPRING 2015)

Table of Contents

Unit 1: General History and Background Information

Unit 2: Firearm Identification

Unit 3: Cartridge Nomenclature

Unit 4: Test-Firing

Unit 5: Proper Crime Scene Documentation and Evidence Handling

Unit 6: Toolmarks, Part I: Bullets & Cartridge Cases

Unit 7: Toolmarks, Part II: Non-Firearm-Related Toolmarks & Evidence

Unit 8: Shooting Reconstruction

Unit 9: Laboratory Testing

Unit 10: Firearm Accessories

Unit 10: Microscopic Identification

Unit 11: Databases and Resources

Unit 12: Standardization and Legal Issues


There are no prerequisites for this class. A printable version of the course content is available in PDF format in the course library for future reference. Course readings are also available in PDF format.

Computer Requirements

  • Mozilla Firefox (recommended) or Internet Explorer
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • QuickTime
  • Macromedia Flash Player
  • Java

(Free software plug-ins are available in the Getting Started area of the course.)

Basic computer skills required (i.e. turning on your computer, navigating to websites, etc.). The course is user-friendly but support is available if needed.

All Students: Using Internet Explorer (IE) 10? Read info on eCampus Main Page

Instructor Information

Registration Information 

Click on the "Register Now" button at the top to register online through our secure server. You will be receiving email with your online course access information within five working days. Please check your spam or junk folder in case the confirmation email was misplaced there. Call 1-800-253-2762, or email if you have any questions. Major credit cards are accepted.

Check our FAQ page for refund policy and class access information.

Group Discount

We offer discounts for groups over 10. All individuals in the group need to register for the same course to take advantage of the discount. Discount rates vary by group size as follows:

  • 10-20 people 10% off
  • 21-30 people 15% off
  • 31-40 people 20% off
  • Above 40, contact for special pricing

Interested in a group discount?  Please contact the Continuing & Professional Education office at (304) 293-7570 or email us at for a coupon code.

Check our FAQ and Refund Policy for refund and class access information.


Anita Todd“I just wanted to let you all know that I have enjoyed the online forensic classes that are being offered through W. Virginia University. I have completed the Introduction to Firearms and Toolmarks course. It was very interesting. I have found I would like to further my knowledge in this area of forensic science. I am finishing up the IBIS course. It too has been a wonderful experience. I look forward to continuing with the non credit classes. I hope there will continue to be classes added to the course list as the Forensic Science field has many disciplines to encounter. I think the courses are great for those just beginning in the field or even as brush up courses. The thing I like best about the courses is they are great to just experience a basic knowledge of the different disciplines of forensic science. Thanks to all the instructors who put together the course materials and take the time to interact with those of us who are completing the courses.”

Michael Kouris

"All the classes that I have enrolled in have been great. The courses have so much information. I am very confident that any situation I come in contact with will aid me.

I want to thank all the teachers and staff of West Virginia University for the service they provide to law enforcment and other public service employees.

Great Courses."

Don Ledbetter“Overall a good course. Nice overview. In this period of seriously tight budgets, finding somewhere I can get online training, that is appropriate to my field is a great advantage. And continuing education is always good, even if it only shows that I'm still trying to learn.”