Scientist preparing a slide on a microscope. ATF laboratories are staffed with highly trained chemists, forensic biologists, engineers, fingerprint specialists, firearm and toolmark examiners, document examiners and administrative personnel. Many of these professionals have held leadership positions in numerous professional scientific organizations and are among the most highly qualified specialists in their fields.


The below documents are management system documents utilized by ATF Laboratories. They are provided for informational purposes only. Sensitive or copyrighted information has been redacted. The documents are used in ATF Laboratories and not published with the intent of setting a policy or analysis standard for other laboratories. The inclusion of equipment/software manufacturer names does not imply endorsement by ATF Laboratories.

The documents were current as of February 28, 2018. ATF management system documents are reviewed annually and revised as needed. For specific requests, submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Instructions on how to file a FOIA request are found at:

Name Description Type
ATF-LS-E05 - X-ray Powder Diffraction (316.99 KB)
X-ray diffraction is used for the identification of any crystalline material, including inorganic and organic crystalline explosives, residues, and raw materials. Samples may be either individual substances or mixtures.
ATF-LS-E06 - Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (308.08 KB)
Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) is a valuable method of identification and comparison in forensic exams.
ATF-LS-E07 - Pyrodex System (280.64 KB)
Liquid chromatography is a separation technique based on selective interactions between a stationary phase and a mobile phase.
ATF-LS-E09 - Detection of Explosives by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) (342.92 KB)
Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry is used for the characterization and identification of many materials, including complex mixtures, which are capable of passing through a gas chromatograph.
ATF-LS-E11 - Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (331.1 KB)
Pyrolysis is a technique used to break chemical bonds of molecules by the use of thermal energy only.
ATF-LS-E13 - Detection of Ions by Ion Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (IC/MS) (307.43 KB)
Detection of Ions by Ion Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry is used for the identification of inorganic monatomic and polyatomic ions and organic acids commonly found in explosives and their combustion products.
ATF-LS-E14 - Ion Chromatography -Cation Analysis (261.81 KB)
This procedure is applicable for determination of inorganic and organic cations commonly found in aqueous extracts of explosives and explosive residues.
ATF-LS-E15 - Ignition Susceptibility Test (245.34 KB)
Ignition is the act of kindling or setting on fire any combustible substance. An ignition susceptibility test (IST) is conducted to determine if suspected intact explosives or fuse will support combustion.
ATF-LS-E16 - Analysis and Comparison of Composition C-4 (268.19 KB)
This policy and procedure guideline establishes a standard method for the analysis and comparison of Composition C-4.
ATF-LS-E17 - Spot Tests (431.15 KB)
Used for initial testing/screening of suspected intact and explosives residue.
ATF-LS-E19 - Basic Calibration & Maintenance of the Stereo Microscope.final_.pdf (245.67 KB)
This method describes the procedure for basic calibration and maintenance of the stereo microscope.
ATF-LS-E20 - Basic Microscopy Setup on Compound Microscopes (243.12 KB)
This method describes the procedure for basic microscopy setup on compound microscopes.
ATF-LS-E21 - Maintenance and Calibration of Measuring Devices (255.72 KB)
This document defines the policies, work instructions, schedule and documentation for the maintenance and calibration of measuring devices in the trace evidence discipline.
ATF-LS-E22 - Bomb and Arson Tracking System (BATS) (247.78 KB)
This policy is applicable to all Laboratory Services Forensic Science Laboratories when issuing lab reports containing information regarding an explosive or incendiary device.
ATF-LS-E23 - Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) (327.89 KB)
This document provides guidelines establishing a common basis for identification of analytes using liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).
ATF-LS-E23.1 - Analysis of Explosives by Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) Utilizing a Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer (275.24 KB)
This method is applicable for the detection of commonly encountered high explosives by use of Liquid Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), Tandem Mass Spectrometry (MS/MS), and Selective Reaction Monitoring (SRM) on a triple quadruple mass spectrometer.
ATF-LS-E23.2 - Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) Method: Analysis of Explosives on an Orthogonal Acceleration q-TOF Mass Spectrometer (330.31 KB)
This method covers the use of ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) - mass spectrometry (MS) and tandem mass spectrometry (MSMS) in explosive casework on an orthogonal acceleration (oa), quadrupole-time-of-flight (q-TOF) mass spectrometer.
ATF-LS-E24 - Examination of Explosive Components (235.36 KB)

This procedure broadly describes the standard principles which should be followed when examining and reporting on components associated with explosives investigations.

ATF-LS-E25 - Explosives Examination Report Writing (297.32 KB)
This policy is applicable to explosives examinations in all ATF Forensic Science Laboratories. This procedure describes guidelines for reporting analyses, comparisons, and other interpretations drawn from explosives examinations.
ATF-LS-FB01 Standard Approach to Forensic Biology Examination (335.19 KB)
This protocol describes the general approach to Forensic Biology examinations. The protocol is not meant to encompass all possible circumstances that may be encountered in forensic casework.
Forensic Biology
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