In the steel design codes worldwide, the shear area for calculating the block shear capacity of a bolted connection is either the gross
or the net shear area. The authors have previously noted independent experimental evidence indicating the shear failure planes to lie midway between the gross and the net shear planes, termed the active shear planes. This paper presents the nonlinear contact finite brick element analysis results that confirm the location of the active shear planes, indicated by regions of maximum shear stresses. The finite-element analysis also found that shear stresses approach zero toward the free downstream end of the connection block. The veracity of the active shear area is further demonstrated in terms of the ability of the resulting block shear equation to predict the governing failure modes of test specimens consistently, in comparison with the equations assuming the gross and the net shear areas.