The Zombie Apocalypse, Part 5: Firepower

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Starting a little late in the game

Jonathan Glazer, 25 September 2015

We have all seen movies where a threat to a town, the country or humanity in general causes the hero to open a weapons cache that would make any gun collector drool.  Belt fed machine guns, rocket launchers and Curios & Relics of all kinds come out of the subterranean vault ready for another shot at regaining their former glory.   There are those who do have a doomsday cache of weapons and gear which is not meant to see the light of day.  Then there are those who always thought it was a good idea and then suddenly find themselves in an environment which is not friendly to the accumulation of firepower.  What then?

Criminals have it easy.  They just need to ask the right people and they can purchase anything they want without background checks, federal forms or safety locks required.  Handguns, machine guns and stolen military hardware are out there going from hand to hand and being used in crimes.  Law abiding citizens have a myriad of laws on the federal and local level with which to contend.  Despite the second amendment of the constitution guaranteeing that our rights to bear arms not be infringed, they are being infringed.  In my home state of New York, a draconian “Assault Weapons Ban” has been imposed, despite their already being an AWB on the books.  Previously, we could own magazines with capacities of over 10 rounds as long as the mags were made prior to 1994.  Now our magazines are limited to 10 rounds but only with the proviso that they never be loaded with more than 7 rounds for to do so renders the citizen guilty of a misdemeanor.  There are court challenges pending to that last part, but there is controversy over what is currently allowed.  There are many other restrictions associated with this new gun control effort, but that is not the point of this article.  Suffice it to say that I, as a citizen of New York have special restrictions placed on me when planning for the zombie outbreak.

Breaking the law is not an option, so if I did not have any weapons but desired to build up my kit starting now, I can still do so and not be completely disarmed.  Other states have other restrictions and the federal laws can very well change, so let’s not get hung up on the specifics of the restrictions, let’s just be flexible and keep our eyes on the prize of being able to defend ourselves under grave situations.

Handguns are a good place to start.  Assuming there is a magazine limitation, you should choose the handgun that balances size, weight and caliber choice with the mag limit.  For New York, the 1911 platform provides .45 ACP power delivered in 7 round magazines.  That is just how John Browning designed it and it served the US military well from 1911 through 1985, give or take a few years on either end.  There is a host of 9 mm and .40 S&W handguns with standard capacity mags between 8 and 10 rounds, depending on your local laws and any of these will work just fine.  The key is practicing to load and fire in tactical situations.  We haven’t even touched on revolvers, which are practically camouflaged in terms of their tactical scariness.  Revolvers are unmatched for their reliability and ease of use and have dispatched many bad guys in their day.  Once again, training is the key.  Learn to reload quickly, whether it involves using speedloaders or moon clips, you can reload a revolver and shoot it fast enough for centerpunching the undead.


Rifles are another matter.  Since they are banned by cosmetic features more than their killing potential, pick something that is less scary to the easily frightened.  If a semi auto without a pistol grip or a folding stock is available and you can get magazines within the legal amount of rounds in them, you are off to a good start.  It may look like a hunting rifle, but it kills zombies just as well as an AR15.  Again, try and maximize the power of the caliber and the amount of rounds you can legally put in the feed mechanism.  If you want .308 power, the Springfield M1A can fly under the radar, depending on the wording of any AWB in your area and there are 10 round mags available.  Stepping down to a .223, the Ruger Mini 14 is a handy carbine which can be wielded with lower capacity mags if needed.   Don’t overlook manually operated rifle types.  Bolt action rifles soldiered throughout two world wars, have killed more people than malaria and are still in use in many capacities.  Learning to manipulate the bolt quickly comes with practice.  While they are not the equal of a semiautomatic rifle, there are advantages in terms of accuracy and reliability which can be realized in their use.  And there are few places where you cannot legally acquire a bolt action rifle.  All of that holds true for lever action rifles as well, which can be had in calibers such as .357 and .44 magnum as well as many other heavier rifle calibers.  Lever action rifles can be cycled very quickly and some have high capacities in their tubular magazines.  Any of these can be successfully used during a zombie outbreak against either the undead or the living predators that are out there and they can also be used to take game, if the opportunity presents itself.

Shotguns present another opportunity to wield a lot of force without being on the wrong side of the gun control zealots.  Shotguns come in semiautomatic and pump action form, as well as a few other sporting varieties.   In the movie Casino, Don Rickles brought an over/under skeet gun to Robert Deniro’s house to protect against trouble from some mobsters.  Jessie Eisenberg used a side by side coach gun throughout Zombieland, although I suspect that was to make it easier on the firearms coordinators who didn’t have to worry about getting a semi auto to run with blanks. There is an argument to be made that a double barrel shotgun can allow for a higher sustained rate of fire than a pump.  The reasoning is that in a stressful situation, you lose fine motor control and therefore will be unable to quickly reload a shotgun tube mag quickly.  The double barrel uses large muscle groups so you can fire two, eject, load two, fire, eject and so on. Again, that is a controversy that may never be proved one way or the other.  Shotguns are subject to gun control efforts, but to a much less extent than rifles.  You can usually get your hands on a tactical shotgun that is not all that different from one in the armory of your local SWAT team.  They do recoil heavily and require some skill and training to use well, but isn’t that true of everything?


Ammunition should be accumulated for defensive use as well as practice.  If hollowpoints are legal in your area, make sure to have some in reserve and make sure your gun functions with them.  A firearm that eats ball ammo all day long may well gag on something without a full metal jacket.  If law restricts you to not using hollowpoints, you still have options.  There are soft points and other bullet designs which improve terminal ballistics.  If you are stuck with full metal jacket ammo, don’t fret.  It has served the military well since being mandated by the Hague Convention in 1899.  Just choose a caliber with which you are comfortable being able to use safely, accurately and which has enough stopping power to end a threat, live or dead.

We have seen how being saddled with oppressive gun laws does not mean we give up the power to defend ourselves against the hordes of flesh eaters.  Stay within the laws.  Accumulate reserve and training ammunition, as well as spare magazines and parts for your guns.  Being creative with your options and training with what you have chosen means you are less likely to fall victim to a hungry ghoul or an equally hungry human predator.


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