Yesterday in training, we started talking about what we will do when the zombies come. Of course at some point we ended up arguing about what gun a man should pick if he could only have one gun with which to survive the zombie hoards I posed the following question as a poll on the livestream of our workout.
If you had to pick only one of these things to have when the zombies come, which would you pick?
A) A clip fed semi-auto rifle chambered in 22 long rifle, and all the ammo you could carry with you.
B) An M-16 and all the ammo you could carry with you.
c) A pump 12 guage shotgun and all the ammo you could carry with you.
C) A large caliber bolt action sniper rifle with a good scope, and all the ammo you could carry with you.
D) A crossbow, with all the crossbow bolts you could carry with you.
Let’s discuss those choices, starting with the crossbow. The two advantages of the crossbow are that it is silent (and noise attracts zombies) and that you can retrieve the bolts and re-use them. I do question the value of the retrievable bolt though. There are many, many situations that would not allow you to retrieve, you would still inevitably run out at some point.
The disadvantages of the crossbow are more serious. For one, they would be of limited value compared to a gun of any kind when in an emergency situation. You are not gonna get off many shots in an emergency with 20 zombies coming straight at you (you probably wont be retrieving your bolts in that situation either). A crossbow doesn’t have much range compared to a firearm either. And, when you compare the velocity of a crossbow bolt to the velocity of a bullet of any kind, you realize that although a crossbow can be reasonably accurate when fired at a stationary target, it is gonna be VASTLY less accurate than a gun at a moving target. And one thing we know about attacking zombies it is they are a moving target.
So, with a crossbow, we have a weapon whose only real advantage is silence, but falls way short in any situation other than the small percentage that put a premium on silence. A weapon with a slow rate of fire, limited range, limited accuracy, with a projectile that is heavy enough so that you could only carry a limited amount, and the ability to re-use that projectile is questionable. So, if you choose a crossbow as your weapon of choice, you have FAILED in a way that will likely kill you, and your genetics will not be part of the gene pool when your wiser brethren rebuild civilization after all the zombies have been killed.
A sniper rifle is of course a better choice than a crossbow. The advantages of such a weapon are that it can, of course, kill accurately and at a long range. This could be, in some situations, very very valuable. But, that is its only advantage. It is going to be the heaviest weapon of any of the choices. That will matter when you are walking all day in search for food, or, getting as far away from the hoards of zombies in the cities as you can. Such rifles also usually fire a larger caliber bullet, which are more bulky and heavy, and limit your ability to carry many rounds. For instance, a 300 Winchester mag round, popular for sniper rifles, weighs more than twice as much as a 223 Remington or 5.56 NATO, the round used in the M-16. This means you could carry only half as many rounds. And who knows when and where you will find more ammunition than you originally carried? Then there is the rate of fire, better than a crossbow but still inadequate if you are suddenly in an emergency situation faced with many zombies, coming fast. Like the crossbow, the sniper rifle is really a one trick pony, and you need a good quarter horse, able to do many tasks reasonably well. Those who picked the sniper rifle will likely go the way of the crossbow users and cease to pollute the gene pool.
Next we have the shotgun. A good pump shotgun is reliable, can shoot quickly, and should offer a better chance of hitting what you are aiming for in a close range emergency situation. Seems like a winner, right? Wrong. Reliable, yeah, so are all the other weapons listed. Shoot quickly? Yeah, you can get off 5 or 6 quick shots, but if those 5-6 shots are in an emergency situation where there are more than 5 or 6 zombies facing you, then you will likely be screaming while being eaten alive by zombies in short order because pushing shotgun shells one by one into the tube magazine of a shotgun is a little different and a lot slower than changing clips on a semi-auto rifle. Better chance of hitting what you are aiming at? Well with only 5-6 shots available before a slow re-load, this is small consolation. And the effective range of a shotgun? Well I hope you enjoy being close up and personal with brain eating zombies, cause you are gonna have to get that way to kill them with a shotgun. I guess the fact that shotgun shells are heavy and bulky is of little concern, because you aren’t likely to use many rounds before you get eaten. The person picking a shotgun is likely to be a big aggressive “macho” guy with more balls than brains, and a limited ability to reason things out. That type will likely be attracted by the “cool factor” of blowing a zombies head clear off from 4 feet away by a bad-ass looking shotgun, without the ability to see the downside. There are uses for such people, but not many. And that works out just fine, because there wont be many of that type left when we finally defeat the zombies once and for all and begin to build a new civilization.
An M-16 is a good general purpose personal weapon. It better be, because it is the standard rifle issued to the US military. It’s effective range is not as good as an sniper rifle, but it can effectively engage targets out past 500 yeards. And really, if a zombie is out past 500 yards, how life threatening is it? It’s rate of fire is excellent, fires as fast as you can pull the trigger, and a clip holds 30 rounds. And your next 30 rounds isn’t far away, takes only a couple of seconds to change a clip. And, US Marine Donny Shankle estimates that a man could pack as many as 1000 on his person, much more usable ammunition than a shotgun, sniper rifle, or crossbow. So we have a weapon with a high rate of fire for close, emergency situations, a good effective range, and the ability to carry a large amount of ammunition for the weapon. It is clearly the weapon that most logical people would pick. And this is good, because those are the people who rebuild after the apocalypse. The Human race will have a bright future after weeding out the inadequate genetics that led to sniper rifles, crossbows, and shotguns.
A clip fed semi-auto rifle in 22 long rifle caliber is a bit counter-intuitive. But, it does have a faster effective rate of fire than a shotgun, sniper rifle, or crossbow for emergency situations. And it has a longer range than a crossbow or shotgun. The obvious question is that of power. But let us remember that these are zombies we are talking about, not large animals or humans. No matter HOW big a hold you put in them with any gun, they are not going down unless you shoot them in the head. And, at any range close enough to be considered an emergency, a hit in the head by a 22 caliber will be just as deadly as if you blew the head off with a shotgun. Now, these are all great reasons to pick a 22 rifle over everything but the M-16. But there is one more advantage to the 22 rifle. The weight of the ammo. If you can carry 1000 rounds for the M-16, you can probably carry 5000 for a 22 rifle. Remember that we are planning for the rest of our lives here. We might not get more ammo for years. A man who chooses a 22 rifle is choosing a gun with a fast rate of fire for emergency situations, but that gives away power and range to carry much more ammunition. This is a man who is willing to take a little more risk in order to plan for the future, risk just a bit more in the short term to make sure that he isn’t set upon by 10 zombies a year from now with only 5 rounds of ammo left. This man is a planner, a thinker. A man who is confident he can use his mind to avoid emergency situations instead of depending on the power of his gun. We will need guys like this when we rebuild, and, we will have them.
I hope you consider these things carefully when picking your weapon, and good luck to you all.