On Zombies and Weapons

Seanan McGuire has an interesting Surviving Horror FAQ. I wanted to take issue with one of the answers, as it’s a popular misconception:

Q: What is the best weapon to use against zombies?

A: [Removed dinosaur references – MZ] Alien slug zombies are best killed at a distance with a shotgun, or with grenades—there’s no reason to fear the debris. Viral zombies, on the other hand, should not be blown up if you can possibly avoid it, as it is totally possible to aerosolize the infection. […]

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Shotguns are horrible at-a-distance weapons. Hard to aim, hard to fire off more than one shot. They’re a good terrorist weapon — but zombies know no fear, it’s useless to scare them. I want to recommend what I usually recommend — assault rifles. Assault rifles are meant to be useful in exactly that situation. I’m somewhat biased, of course, regarding specifics by my training in the Israeli Defense Forces, but if it’s at all possible to get your hands on an M-16, do so. If you have a lot of clips, use it American-style with 30 bullets to a clip. If your supply of clips is limited, and you want to reuse clips, do it Israeli-style and use 29 bullets to a clip. If you’re shooting at the zombies when they’re far away (and you should!) don’t bother with automatic fire — it will just make you waste bullets. Bring the M-16 to your shoulder, aim, and gently squeeze the trigger. If you’re in a rush, “pseudo-aim” — use the handle of the M-16 as your sight, no need to get the zombie inside the cross-hairs. It takes too long, and if you’re aiming at useful regions, not important.

Never aim at the head — it’s hard to get a head shot, and you don’t need to kill the zombies, merely immobilize them. Aiming for the torso will usually make sure they find it hard to run at you, and gives you a nice, juicy target. An M-16 .56 bullet does quite a bit of damage — it’s meant to — so it will usually pulverize enough bones to make it hard for the zombies to move.

The last point I want to cover is how to run away from zombies, when you’re in a group. The image you should be having in your head, because it’s a situation similar to what they have to face, is of the SG teams leaving a hostile planet when they’re outnumbered. That’s how you do an organized retreat. One of your members takes a defensive position and shoots at the front of the horde, while the rest run backwards. Before the horde reaches the one firing, one of the group running turns, takes a defensive position and starts blasting at the horde, giving the one who was firing a chance to escape. This lock-step mode will ensure the highest rate of survival. It’s good for groups, but just like in Stargate, you can do it as long as there are at least two of you.

You may think I’m strange now, but when the zombie apocalypse comes, you’ll thank me!

Edit: Added the part re: organized retreat.

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6 Responses to On Zombies and Weapons

  1. Ken Whitesell says:

    Given the choice, I’d rather either have a Bushmaster BA50 or, with the proper preparations, an M2.

    Chop’em up and let’em rot.

  2. Ken Whitesell says:

    Actually, scratch that. After seeing a couple episodes of Mythbusters featuring the Dillon M-134 gatling gun, _that_ has become my mythical weapon of choice.

    Only problem is that you end up with a _lot_ of shell casings to clean up afterward.

  3. Indigo says:

    No, not strange. Awesome. Zombie preparedness is a vital skill.

  4. lemurchan says:

    As I am completely ignorant of automatic weapon fire, could you please explain the practical distinction between having 29 and 30 bullets per clip?

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