The Zombie Apocalypse may not be a good place to take a date. But if you do, you might as well keep her alive.
"Build a 50.caliber automatic gun ..." - Anonymous
"My plan involves a large sword (like Cloud's in FF7). That and a minigun." - Mairazu
"... With my superior strength and martial arts skills, I would have no problem stabbing anything with a wooden stick. Anyways, a rail spike or spear would not be as satisfying." - dwight
"Whack them on the head with a crowbar... Assuming, of course, that you aren't a zombie yourself. Either that or get a big shovel to whack them with instead ..." - Anonymous
"It's waaay more satisfying to put your foot through a zombies head, assuming that you're ninja enough to do it..." - Guitarbob
"Two pistols, cool!" - Zoey
Let's face it: even the best-thought-out zombie plan is unlikely to protect you from encountering a zombie. And when you do, you'll have to be ready to remove the head or destroy the brain. How is this best done? This week, we examine some of the more popular ideas for taking on zombies.
But first, a few words on zombie combat in general.
As we pointed out at the start of the series, even the most effective weapon will not save you. Anyone who's played a zombie videogame has at one point allowed himself to think: "I'm pretty hardcore. Maybe I could just shoot my way through a real apocalypse."
Unfortunately, the real apocalypse will be densely strewn with weapons and ammunition every five minutes, nor will you be able to use health packs to instantly undo most or all of the damage the zombies did to you.
On the contrary, a single zombie bite will eventually kill you and nothing in your first aid kit will stop that. A punch will bruise, a scratch or cut will bleed. Wounds will take days at the least to heal, and meanwhile, you'll have to keep moving and fighting. Patching up a wound will take clean water, antiseptic, and bandages. You'll need to have someone cover your back for several minutes while you do it. More complex wounds will require shrapnel extraction or stitches. Medical work can't really be done while zombies are climbing through the window.
If you carry as much ammo as possible while still being able to hike (a small backpack's worth), you'll still only last a few minutes maximum. By that time, you'd better have pushed through the area and moved to safer ground.
If you avoid ammo-based weapons, you're depending on your own physical stength to kill a zombie. Even a super-sharp sword takes energy to swing. You stay in combat - real world combat - for a minute or two and you'll have sweat pouring into your eyes. Fatigue will set in and your blows will begin to weaken. Next thing you know, you're on the ground and someone is gnawing on your pahookie.
We hope we've talked you out of depending solely on combat for your ZSF. Now let's dig into the details, ranking 31 popular zombie-killing weapons from 0 to 5 assuming a very basic knowledge of all the weapons involved:
Oh, one more quick note. We can't speak to the level of satisfaction you'll get from using a weapon, but we would submit that this is utterly irrelevant. Combat is about survival. If the idea of slaughtering the undead by the hundreds appeals to you, go play a game and get it out of your system, because you won't last long in the real world. In your basement, zombie killing is about unlimited ammunition and snappy one-liners. Outside, it's about quick, efficient killing. While you're pulling your sword out of one zombie, another one is crawling onto your back.
So, getting into a fight with zombies is about getting in and getting out as fast as possible, preserving as much strength and ammo as possible along the way.
Okay. On to the Weapon Appendix.
Pros: Everyone has them. Packs a decent impact.
Cons: Requires tremendous strength and training to deliver fatal kicks. Rate of attack very slow. Difficult to maintain balance during an attack. Hard to use in close quarters. Cannot be used while on the move. Vulnerable to bites.
Pros: Easy to find. Can be used to clear debris from your path.
Cons: Heavy. Fuel is clunky and dangerous. Will not even slow down a charging zombie. Likely to break in a combat situation. Will reduce your chances of being inducted into a survivor party by making you look like an idiot.
Pros: Extremely easy to find. Lightweight. Useful if you happen to run into a pesky Vampire. Biodegradable.
Cons: Abysmal damage-to-effort ratio. Dulls and breaks after repeated use. Danger of splinters. Very close range. Incredibly slow rate of attack.
Pros: Easy to find. Doubles as a coffee maker.
Cons: Clunky. No sharp edges. Hard to bludgeon with. Easily broken. Requires electricity, clean water, and grounds to make coffee. Ineffective in almost every possible way.
Pros: Totally accessible. Lightweight. Deadly accuracy. Easy to use.
Cons: Poor damage-to-effort ratio. Susceptible to bites. Bruises after repeated use. Extremely close range.
Pros: Finding and transporting a cinch. Reasonable bludgeoning tool.
Cons: Mediocre damage-to-effort ratio. Hard to use in cramped quarters. Close range. Very slow rate of attack.
Pros: Easy to find. Decent reach. Moderately easy to carry. Occasionally useful for survival tasks.
Cons: Surprisingly ineffective bludgeoning and stabbing tool. Useless for cutting. Awkward and exhausting to use.
Pros: Easy to find and transport. Very useful for survival tasks, especially in urban areas. Can be dual wielded. Sharp edges on both sides mean high potential rate of attack. Handy for killing any head crabs that happen by.
Cons: Only moderately effective at stabbing and bludgeoning. Causes massive wear and tear on the knuckles.
Pros: Very easy to use. Reasonable accuracy and damage at medium-close range.
Cons: Useless in close combat. Agonizing reload takes time and strength. Bolts don't necessarily guarantee a kill.
Pros: Moderate effectiveness as a stabbing or bludgeoning tool. Reasonably accessible.
Cons: Hard to carry. Hurts to use. Very close range. Incredibly slow rate of attack. Gets stuck in zombies all the time.
Pros: Extremely common and lightweight. Diverse. Indispensable for a host of survival tasks. Easy to use. Can be devastating in the hands of an experienced user. Can be dual wielded.
Cons: Wounds don't bring down zombies very fast. Can get stuck. Useful only in extreme close range. Messy to use.
Pros: Ammo can be made at home. Shafts can be ignited. Lethal at medium to point-blank range in the hands of an expert. Bow can double as a melee weapon in a pinch. Shafts can be retrieved and reused.
Cons: Mediocre rate of fire. Requires great strength and prowess to even draw the bow. Tricky to use indoors. Somewhat inaccurate. Does disappointing amount of damage; sometimes takes multiple hits to down a charging zombie.
Pros: Large blast radius. Handy dandy. Can provide a moment's calm in order to reload another weapon.
Cons: Cannot be used indoors. A bad toss can force survivors from their stockade or worse. Low rate of fire. Useless in close combat.
Pros: Devastating short-range attack can obliterate huge crowds of undead and illuminate the night.
Cons: Very heavy. Fuel is clunky and dangerous. Cannot be used indoors, around a hiding place, or near other survivors. Loud noise and bright light attracts zombies from massive distances.
Pros: Extremely high rate of fire and damage. Very large clip size. Can be mounted.
Cons: Incredibly heavy. Innaccurate unless set up before firing. Very slow to turn. Slow reload time. Overheats.
Pros: Devastating damage per shot. Looks really cool. Easy to draw. Can be used at any range from medium-close to melee. Can be reloaded one shot at a time. Can be dual wielded.
Cons: Agonizing reload. Huge kick. Slow rate of fire. Heavy (for its size). Bullets are clunky to carry around. Very shallow clip.
Cons: Can be tricky to set up. Incorrect facing can lead to embarrassing death. Doesn't necessarily detonate at the most useful moment.
Pros: For a melee weapon, fairly long range. Useful in many kinds of survival situations. Can impale several zombies at once.
Cons: Hard to use and transport in cramped areas. Low rate of attack. Tricky to pull out of charging zombie if the first strike didn't stop it.
Cons: Heavy. Ammunition is almost as big as weapon. Very slow reload time. A liability at close range. Lots of breakable parts. Undependable accuracy.
Cons: Tends to get stuck in zombies. Danger of hitting other survivors. Messy to use.
Pros: Ranged weapon with unlimited ammunition. Can be used to traverse complex obstacles and play fetch with robots. Small chance of becoming super-charged, allowing you to toss zombies like ragdolls.
Cons: Nearly useless without plenty of throwable objects in room, such as saw blades and explosive barrels. Tines at end of gun can be damaged. Extremely rare. Impossible to repair. Will cause resentment among other survivors who don't get to use the gravity gun.
Pros: Easy to make. Can make large areas intraversable to zombies, allowing you to cover your escape or block an attack. Reasonably easy to carry.
Cons: Hard to control. Unpredictable flight path and spill. May leak on the carrier, causing him to burst into flames when attempting to use.
Pros: Massive cutting edge can cut swathes through a horde. Powerful swing will cut through just about anything.
Cons: Very heavy. Requires extensive training and conditioning. Cannot be used near other survivors. Almost impossible to find.
Pros: Very long range. High damage output. Scope doubles as a monocular for scouting a path ahead. There are lots of them in Wal-Mart.
Cons: Slow rate of fire. Easier to break than combat weapons. Nearly useless at close quarters. Kick can knock an unready user flat on his back.
Pros: Deep clip. Can be mounted on a building or vehicle. Good damage output.
Cons: Heavy, complicated to use. Lengthy reload time. Very heavy. So are the ammo boxes. Innaccurate except when set up and at medium-close range.
Pros: Super-heated projectiles melt zombies with ease. Very little kick. Decent range and accuracy. High rate of fire. Very easy to use. Biodegradable.
Cons: Protracted firing will cause overheating, in which hot plasma is vented out of the side of the weapon, potentially harming the user. Lengthy cool down time after overheat is enough for zombies to overwhelm user. Moderately sized battery is not replaceable.
Pros: Strong, razor sharp, extremely effective for slashing, stabbing, and cutting.
Cons: Likely to cause as much harm as good in the hands of a novice. Must be maintained using special oils.
Pros: Easy to draw. Decent medium-close damage and accuracy. Clips are easy to pack and tend to be fairly available. Can be used at point blank range, even in a melee. Makes a good secondary weapon. Can be dual wielded with practice. Very fast reload.
Cons: Individual shots don't do much damage. Shallow clip.
Pros: Good medium range accuracy. Easy to use in almost any situation. Reasonable weight and reload time. Can be silenced.
Cons: Shallow clip. Mediocre damage for an automatic weapon.
Pros: Wide firing pattern almost guarantees a hit. Can take out multiple zombies at once. Devastating close-range blast will knock zombies backward. Can reload one shell at a time. Short barrel means easy maneuverability in close quarters.
Cons: In most cases, very shallow clip. Iconic status as the ultimate zombie-fighting weapon may cause other survivors to turn on you to get it. Cannot be used to fire at zombies who are attacking other survivors. Slow reload time.
Pros: Diverse application in almost any combat situation. Rugged, reliable. Adjustable rate of fire. Effective from medium-long distances to point-blank. Fast reload time. Can be heavily modified and silenced.
Cons: Clips are clunky. Somewhat harder to turn around with compared to a melee or shorter-barreled weapon. Someone will kill you for it while you are sleeping.
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