The Firearms Department examines firearms to test their operability and also their compliance with various statutory regulations (ex. capability for full auto fire, barrel length, and/or overall length). The Department also examines and microscopically compares fired ammunition components (projectiles, cartridge cases, shotshells, etc.) recovered from a crime scene to test specimens fired from a firearm recovered from a suspect to determine if the firearm was used in the shooting. Similarly, fired ammunition components recovered from one crime scene can be microscopically compared with fired ammunition components from other crime scenes to determine if a single firearm was responsible for both shootings. The Department also performs serial number restoration and other discipline related examinations.

The Firearms (& Tool Marks) Department examines tools and microscopically compares tool marks from a crime scene to test specimens produced by a recovered tool to see if the tool was used in the crime. The tool must be able to be linked to a suspect through possession, latent prints, or DNA. If the tool cannot be linked to a suspect through one of these methods, the evidence will not be accepted.

The Firearms Department operates the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) database.  NOTE:  All firearms and fired cartridge cases that are examined by the Firearms Department are automatically screened for IBIS entry. See the IBIS section for further information.

The Firearms Department is responsible for the destruction of firearms, knives, metal tools, etc. for various agencies in South Carolina.


The Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) which operates on the National Integrated Ballistic Identification Network (NIBIN) is owned and provided to various state and local agencies by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). The IBIS system is located in the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s (SLED) Forensic Services Building. It is operated by Firearms Department personnel in accordance with BATF protocols.
The IBIS enables an operator to acquire digital images of individually marked areas on fired cartridge cases. These images are converted into digital “signatures” and are compared, through an automated process, with other stored images to determine if possible links exist between cases or incidents that may not have been previously linked through traditional investigative means. For every specimen entered, a list will be prepared by the computer for the operator to review.  It is then up to IBIS personnel to review the images and determine if there are any “High Confidence Correlations”. (A High Confidence Correlation occurs when we find a potentialmatch on the IBIS). We will notify your Agency of the potential lead for INVESTIGATIVE PURPOSES ONLY. IBIS Leads cannot be utilized for the establishment of probable cause for warrants or for any court related purposes UNTIL the lead has been confirmed through microscopic comparison of the evidence by a firearms examiner. You can request that the High Confidence Correlation be confirmed by submitting your evidence for a FULL FIREARM EXAM. If the High Confidence Correlation is confirmed, it is then considered a verified “HIT”.


The IBIS Entry by Appointment Program is a highly efficient, streamlined, and simplified version of the traditional IBIS program. This program was designed as a way to increase the efficiency and throughput of the IBIS and allow for our customers to have test fires from seized firearms and/or evidence cartridge cases from crime scenes entered into IBIS faster than going through the normal evidence submission process. It has been shown that the greater the time between the date of the crime and the date an investigating officer is provided a new lead, the less useful the lead becomes. This is one of the motivating factors in developing the “IBIS Entry by Appointment” program. IBIS entry will be performed the same day it is brought to SLED with correlations typically reviewed the next business day. If a potential match is found, your Agency will be notified immediately of the potential link to another case dramatically reducing the time between the crime and when the investigator receives a new lead.

Customer Notices and Forms

2023-02 Forensic Services – IBIS Only Evidence Submissions
Firearms for Forensic Processing NOTICE!
Firearms Analysis of Submissions Containing Only Fired Cartridge Cases
IBIS Entry by Appointment Program
SLED IBIS Appointment Information form
IBIS Test Fire Instructions