Hello there Zombie Hungry Populous,
This is my single favorite Zombie Survival topic. The reason being? Well, I am an incredibly analytical person, and efficiency is a fetish of mine. Therefore, contemplating what weapons give you the most bang for your buck (so to speak) is something I can sink my teeth into. Now before I start, we have to establish a couple of things. The universe I will be operating out of will be the Romero Zombie universe. I.E. slow moving zombies who infect via biting (fluid to fluid transfer basically) and can only be dispatched by destroying the brain or brainstem.
What I will do from here is outline different weapon types and talk about their strengths and weaknesses before making my professional (take that term with a grain of salt... Ok, maybe a few grains.) suggestions. Now I do warn you. I am about to get into the zone here. I will be getting technical in some places and overall, very detailed.
This would encompass anything from a pipe to a bat, 2x4 to a frying pan, etc. I prefer these as close quarters weapons when engaging single targets or multiple targets who are spaced out and less than 5 in number. There are a few things to consider when choosing a bludgeon. First, and possibly most importantly, you have to worry about the integrity of the weapon. Wood will be lighter than steel or lead, but has a greater probability of denting, splintering, splitting, or shattering. Next you need to consider weight as it will effect your ability to yield it in a combat situation. A lead pipe will be quite strong, but will tire you out because of it's weight in relation to its' size. Finally, you have to consider your own strength when wielding a bludgeon. This weapon category might be self sufficient, but it takes muscle power that rapidly diminishes while attempting to shatter human skulls.
Here is my contention with this weapon category. Most will cite that you don't need ammunition or have to reload something like a bat, but they fail to recognize how much strength it takes to shatter bone. Therefore, when engaging multiple targets, you have a greater probability of tiring out and not having the ability to sufficiently injure the target. Although it sounds like I have no faith in this weapon type, I do believe it is a necessary part of your anti-zombie arsenal. My suggestion is to use an aluminum bat (a hard metal hitting surface that should stand up to punishment rather well, and the handle should be insulated enough to prevent shock waves going into your wrist.) A good last resort weapon, or silent weapon against single targets or multiple targets who are spaced out and low in number.
This includes swords, machetes, and knives. This weapon type is my greatest contention with other zombie survivalists. Most fail to understand the same principles that hinder bludgeon weapons. Human bone is hard. Cutting through human bone is difficult. In order for an edged weapon to kill a zombie, it must either pierce the skull or sever the brainstem/spinal cord. This is a tall order. Now even if an individual has a sword sharp enough and has the muscle power, not only will the muscle power diminish, bone will dull the blade significantly.
Now I know what you are saying, "a katana can slice right through bone, no problem, no effort." Well, not exactly. A fantastic katana or tsunda will be incredibly sharp and strong, but takes training and money to utilize and attain, and will not slice through bone without great effort and dulling. The next issue I foresee with edged weapons is the probability of a blade getting stuck in a target. This is highly possible, especially as the blade dulls, and will cause the wielder to fatigue at a greater rate. My suggestion here it so have edged weapon such as a knife because of its usefulness other than as a weapon. Knives come in handy, but I wouldn't count on them to keep me safe against zombies.
Ok, here is where I believe you get the best bang for your buck. Yes, you need a little training here, but with that training I believe handguns are your best self defense weapon in a zombie outbreak. The benefits of this weapon category are killing distance (a good shot can give you over 50 feet of killing distance), the ability to engage multiple targets with minimal physical effort, the ability to engage multiple targets in close quarters, and (in the case of an automatic) quick follow up shots and reloading. Now, there are drawbacks to this as well. First off, anyone who has handled a gun knows it is hard to hit anything let alone a moving target the size of a human head. Next, you have to worry about how to maintain a handgun, ammunition worries, reloading, accuracy over distance, training, etc. But with a little training, these drawbacks minimize. I believe a handgun is a must have.
As far as choosing a handgun there are a few things you must consider. First, an automatic is a must. Revolvers, although more comfortable, and accurate on the first shot, an automatic is faster to reload, has a greater ammunition capacity, and allows for much quicker follow up shots. I would suggest 9mm for no other reason that it is the most popular round and is carried by most law enforcement agencies, so ammunition would be easier to find. If ammunition is no object, I would suggest a .22cal because of ammunition capacity (remember, we are just penetrating a human skull, not body armor.)
I go back and forth with this weapon class. The reason being is ammunition capacity and reload speed. Buck shot rounds will give a nice spread of shrapnel, making accuracy less important, and stopping power is unparalleled, but ammo capacity is limited and reloading is slow. Double or single barrel, crack open shotguns are completely inefficient, so pump, lever, and automatic shotguns would be ideal. The drawbacks are simple. Accuracy and distance is minimal, ammunition is bulky, reloading is cumbersome, and there is some training needed to handle the weapon properly (not handling it properly can easily result in injuring yourself and others.)
I would consider this as a main weapon if I were in a close quarters scenario. In an outdoor environment where I would engage multiple targets at distance, a shotgun would be a waste. If you can get a shotgun with a box magazine you would be set for close quarters engaging, but I would reserve shotguns for a secondary weapon. And remember, 12 gauge shotguns are the only viable option as other gauge ammunition would be hard to find.
Rifles are an interesting weapon class, as they encompass many different incarnations. There are multiple types of actions, from lever, pump, and bolt, to gas rotating bolt and forward pump. They can be shorter, such as an M2 or long, such as a springfield 03. And there are a myriad of calibers. I am going to break this down into 2 categories. "Classic Rifles" and "Assault Rifles." If you are a good shot and comfortable with a rifle, it might be a good choice in an outdoor, long range scenario. I would choose a common caliber, such as a 5.56mm or 7.62mm, as they are used by most law enforcement and military agencies, and ammunition would be easier to find. The drawback here is the ability to be used in close quarters, the issue of reloading (unless magazine fed), and training.
An assault rifle is one of the best zombie defense weapon you can get. With the proper training, you can use this weapon for both close quarters and long range engagements, and allows you fast reloads, quick follow up shots, great accuracy, and in some cases, allows for fantastic customization. There are other things to consider with rifles. First, if you are in close quarters, a long rifle will hinder your movement, and there is the issue of over penetration (bullets going through multiple targets or walls.) Also, there is a lot of training needed to properly maintain and use an assault rifle.
My choice here would be for a short assault rifle, such as an m4 or FAMAS. They both utilize a 5.56mm, used by most law enforcement or military agencies, lend themselves to both short and mid range engagements, and allow for great accuracy, quick follow up shots, and have a large ammunition capacity.
The final category I will discuss before I wrap things up are submachine guns. This is a good alternative to the assault rifle, as it uses a pistol round, fires rapidly, and allows for quick reloads. Once again, it does take training to maintain and use a weapon like this. I would suggest 9mm for the same reasons that I suggested a 9mm handgun. Most submachine guns are compact and are perfect for close quarters, but are not suited for mid to long range engagements. I would suggest a forward situated magazine such as a mp5 or ump, in contrast to a handle situated magazine, such as an uzi or mac 10, as it will allow for a longer barrel (more accuracy) and easier handling.
Alright, if you are still with me after this diatribe, I am going to wrap up with some specific suggestions. Now I know there are more weapon categories out there, but I believe these to be the most realistic scenarios. I also know that there are going to be angles I haven't considered, but I think the following setup and the preceding rant give a strong foundation for weapon choices in the event of a zombie outbreak.
Here is the set up I would ideally have in any zombie outbreak scenario.
-Stoner Knights SR 16 with a telescopic stock, silencer, and acog scope. (This is a shortened m16 with a small scope and a silencer. It's small enough for close quarters, but very accurate and powerful. Also, a silencer would help reduce noise and keep from attracting attention to myself.)
-Remington 870 3 round shotgun attached to the bottom rail of the SR 16. (Although this would weigh down the SR 16, it would allow quick access to a secondary weapon for close quarters and to add more stopping power to my arsenal. Also, no lock or door will stand up to a point blank shotgun blast.)
-Glock model 19 9mm. (This is a mid-sized semi-automatic pistol that accepts most other 9mm glock pistol magazine. This is a popular model among law enforcement officers and is a popular pistol round. Glocks are easy to use and maintain, and tend not to jam)
-Aluminum Baseball Bat. (This is my last resort weapon. Also, this is a silent kill weapon... Relatively silent that is. Plus, against a small number of targets, will save ammunition.)
Well, I hope I have added to your zombie survival skills. Feel free to leave feedback and ideas.
Thanks for reading.
Hello there Zombie Hungry Populous,