One of the significant problems encountered in criminology studies is the successful automated matching of fired cartridge cases, on the basis of the characteristic marks left on them by firearms. An intermediate step in the solution of this problem is the segmentation of certain regions that are defined on the cartridge case base. This paper describes a model-based method that performs segmentation of the cartridge case using surface height image of a center fire cartridge case base. The proposed method detects the location of the cartridge case base center and specific circular contours around it iteratively by projecting the problem to a one-dimensional feature space. In addition, the firing pin impression region is determined by utilizing an adaptive threshold that differentiates impression marks form primer region surface. Letters on the cartridge case base are also detected by using surface modeling and adaptive thresholding, in order to render the surface comparison operation robust against irrelevant surface features. Promising experimental results indicate the eligibility of the proposed method to be used for automated cartridge case base region segmentation process. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.