Wed, 16 April 2008
Howdy Brother D,
I'd like to apologize for the length of this e-mail in advance. While it would seem that this topic should be easy to answer with a few short sentences, you've touched on an area that many zombie enthusiasts love to debate ad nauseum. I even get fired up about it. So, here is what amounts to an essay when a simple e-mail should suffice.
Before I tell you what I think is the ideal weapon to wield during a zombie uprising, I want to first rule out a few popular choices.
Shotgun -- For many, the "boomstick" is the go-to weapon, however it's practical drawbacks are many. First, the shotguns readily available to civilians have a limited ammunition capacity: 2 shells for a double barrel, 4 shells for a stake-out and 6 to 8 shells for a combat shot gun. Stopping to re-load can spell disaster as the zombies descend upon you.
The Saiga-12 is a shotgun based on the AK-47 assault rifle and is available with a 20-round drum magazine, solving the ammunition capacity problem. However, there are still several other issues to consider. While a scatter-gun is useful in a one human versus many zombies in close quarters scenario, it has disadvantages if those conditions change. A shotgun is not precise enough if you have friends our family members in melee with the zombies. Its accuracy over distance is another limitation for many models. If you are going to use a firearm, you want it to be accurate and for it to have range so you can pick off zeds before they get too close.
The largest drawback to shotguns, and guns in general, is noise. While there are different kinds of zombies with different strengths and weaknesses, they all seem to be drawn to noise. The sound of a gunshot can travel for miles. Do you want all of the zombies in your zip code showing up at your door? I would avoid using guns accept as a last resort.
Flame-thrower -- War movies and science fiction such as "Aliens" and "The Thing" have popularized this device which is really more effective for defoliation than as a weapon. It is cumbersome, dangerous to the operator and has a very limited fuel capacity. With apologies to Uncle Romero who suggested zombies fear fire, the Italian Cycle (Argento, Fulci, Mattei) showed us that zombies feel no pain and have no reason to fear fire. In fact, using fire as a weapon against zombies often creates a walking bonfire which can set your home, your car or your whole neighborhood ablaze. Further, Russo and O'Bannon (in the "Return of the Living Dead" series) showed us that burning zombies can spread the cause of the zombification.
Chainsaw -- With apologies to director Sam Raimi and Ashley J. Williams, the hero of the "Evil Dead" series, the chainsaw just isn't good choice. While it is outrageous, even comedic, that Ash has a chainsaw for a hand, there are numerous reasons not to use this as a weapon. How many of us have been rudely awakened on a Saturday morning by a chainsaw in use down the block? The noise could attract more zombies. Then, there's the infectious blood and viscera that you'll be splattering everywhere. Even if the source of zombification isn't biological, there are other bloodborne pathogens to consider. Finally, one slip and you are tearing through your own flesh. Open wounds and limiting injuries are not good things during the zombie apocalypse.
Machete -- Apologies to Cousin Savini, the make-up artist, stuntman and actor who supported many of Romero's efforts, but the machete is also a bad choice. These thin, blunt blades are designed for clearing brush, not for cutting fles h and rending bone. Swing this at a zombie's head or neck and it will get stuck in the wound without doing any real damage to the creature... and you will be without a weapon.
Samurai Sword -- In Feudal Japan, these noble weapons were crafted by artisans and rated by the number of bodies they could slice through in one swing. In modern times, these finely crafted, hardened swords are difficult to come buy and cost thousands of dollars. The collectors’ items we hang on our walls are not battle-ready. Search YouTube for the video of a salesman on a home-shopping channel demonstrating the strength of a samurai sword by tapping it on the counter-top. The blade snapped in half, flipped back at the salesman and stabbed him in the belly. Not what you want to face a zombie with. Even if you get your hands on a REAL samurai sword, these take skill to wield effectively without injuring ourselves or comrades.
Axe -- So, if we can't use a machete or a sword, how about an axe? These are heavy and unwieldy tools. Thousands, not hundreds, but thousands of people injure themselves with axes every year just chopping wood for fireplaces. A log is not a moving target. A log doesn't have an infectious bite. The dangers of over-swinging are immense. Then, there is still the risk of getting your weapon stuck in the flesh and bone of one zombie while others descend upon you.
Baseball Bat -- If bladed weapons are bad, how about a blunt object? We are on the right track, but a baseball bat is designed for hitting a 5 ounce cork, rubber and leather ball... not a human skull. We've seen both wooden and aluminum bats break after repeated uses... against a 9-inch circumference balls. They wouldn't last very long against skull and pavement.
So, this brings me to my weapon of choice, if I could only arm myself with one weapon in the zombie apocalypse....
Seriously, a crowbar. I'd arm myself with a non-sparking, 3 or 4 foot crowbar. Non-sparking in case of gas leaks as the human infrastructure breaks down. 3 or 4 feet in length to give me some swinging room, but not too long that it becomes to heavy to carry or that over-swinging can become an issue. No re-load or noise concerns that come with a gun. While there are pointy bits that could be used on vital spots such as eyes and ears, it isn't a bladed weapon that can get stuck in flesh or bone. It is a bludgeoning weapon that will break many bones before it suffers structural fatigue.
When using a crowbar as a weapon, there are several techniques to consider. Of course, the obvious straight strike to the head can be very effective. However, you can also trip or even hobble a zombie by swinging at its knees or ankles. While they do not feel pain, they still rely on the functionality of bones an d joints to walk. A crawling zombie is still a threat, but it is also an easier target. Once on the ground, one can bludgeon the skull or destroy the brain by stabbing through the eyes or ears with the tip of the crowbar.
The crowbar is also a tool, remember. It can be used to pry open locked doors, break padlocks, smash windows and even pop-open the ignition of a car. It is a lever which can be use for many purposes. It can even remove nails for re-use in fortification. Personally, I think no zombie hunter or apocalypse survivor should be without a crowbar.
That said, I still think there is room for knives, guns and other weapons in the zombie survival kit. Some situations call for their use. I just think if you could have only one tool for all situations, it should be a crowbar. Its utility, effectiveness and durability is unmatched.
Category:general -- posted at: 10:15pm PST