Friday, March 7, 2014

SHTFriday: Your Apocalypse Arsenal (pt.2)

Not actually Erin.
Picture by KJ Photography
& is used with permission. 
So, last week's article generated quite a bit more discontent and hurt feelings than I really thought were possible. Apparently some folks are really invested in their platform of choice and cannot countenance the thought of anything else performing as well as their beloved woobie.

I have to confess that the fallout from this article left me not wanting to write any more in this series. However, if I ran away from something every time someone hated me for it, I'd accomplish very little in life, and so I intend to soldier on.

But still, I feel there's a need for a bit of humor to lighten the mood a bit, so this Apocalypse Arsenal category is going to be less than serious.

An Actual "Walking Dead" Zombie Apocalypse

  • Scoped .22LR Rifle
  • PMR-30
  • Machete
Let me be clear:  I am specifically talking about the George Romero style animated corpses that eat flesh and can only be killed by destroying the brain! I am NOT talking about Danny Boyle style "Rage Zombies"  (who weren't zombies anyway, they were humans infected with a virus), nor am I talking about zombies who are dead but nevertheless move at human speed (or faster!).   No, this is a good old-fashioned outbreak of stupid, shambling, cannibalistic undead.

I have chosen a scoped rifle because, ideally, you want to shoot zombies in the head from enough of a distance that they cannot reach you before you kill them. I have chosen a .22LR for caliber for the following reasons:
  • They are small, so it's easy to carry a lot of them without being weighed down. 
  • They are inexpensive (although I am not 100% certain if prices have returned to pre-2013 levels), so stocking up is relatively easy. 
  • It's the single most common cartridge in North America, if not the planet, so in an end-of-civilization scenario like the Zombie Apocalypse, scrounging them should be easier than most any other cartridge.
  • A rifle chambered in .22LR will also accept .22 Short and .22 Long. 
  • A suppressed .22 is about the quietest firearm in the world. 
  • Recoil is minimal, allowing you faster follow-up shots. 

There are, however, a few caveats here: 
  • .22LR is a very light round, and because of that it is susceptible to wind effects. 
  • Depending on the distance of the shot, the angle of attack, and the type of cartridge being used the bullet just might deflect off of the skull. 
    • Copper hollowpoints are arguably best for skull penetration. Additionally, you won't have to worry about lead fouling the inside of your rifle barrel. 
    • If all you have is lead or round nose, you'll probably need to shoot the zombie in the eye to reach the brain, rather than risk having the round deflect due to the thickness and curvature of the forehead. 
  • Zombie mythology is a bit fuzzy on how much of the brain you need to destroy, and which parts; a fast moving rifle round just might make a through-and-through and miss the critical part (whatever that might be) entirely. 
    • Fortunately, you'll have enough ammo to make follow-up shots, and low recoil means you can make those shots quickly. 
  • It's going to take a lot of practice with your rifle and ammunition of choice to get good enough to pull off zombie head-shots on a regular basis, but we all know that half of responsible gun ownership is practice, right?

The specifics of which kind of rifle to choose are a debate unto themselves. Semi-autos allow for faster follow-up shots, but they also make ammunition-wasting panic fire much easier than do pump or bolt action guns.  Some folks swear by the Ruger 10/22, others by the Marlin 60, and still others the Nylon 66;  all are fine rifles with a long record of good service. 

Personally, I prefer tube-fed rifles to those that use magazines, for reasons I detail here, but that is a purely personal decision. As long as the rifle you have is reliable and can be comfortably shot, you've made a good decision. 

A case could be made for using .223/5.56mm ammunition from an AR-15 pattern rifle. This is also a good choice, as there will be plenty of ammunition left over to be scavenged, and the powder charge will definitely be enough to penetrate a skull at effective engagement ranges. The biggest problems with this solution, however, are size and weight of ammunition (much larger and heavier than .22LR) and the requirement for magazines -- if you empty your magazines, your AR has become a single-shot rifle.

I firmly believe that my choice of the Kel-Tec PMR-30 is going to cause consternation, mostly because it's very hard to get hold of (perhaps not quite the unicorn that the KSG is, but it's close), but it's a gun that I have experience with.  In fact, when I reviewed it on Lurking Rhythmically, I started the review by calling it "the finest anti-zombie pistol ever made." 
Why? Well, let's start with the big reason: It has a thirty-round magazine. If zombie movies have taught me anything, it's that you run out of ammunition at a fast rate. With 30 rounds in your gun, you will be changing magazines less often. And carrying extras won't be a problem: the magazine is almost all polymer (I think that the spring is the only metallic component) which makes it very light, and the .22 Magnum round it carries is also very light. Three full magazines would be negligible weight; six would be barely noticed. I imagine (though I cannot prove) that 10 magazines -- 300 rounds -- would constitute a manageable combat load. Bulk would be more of an issue than weight.
Actually, I think the real issue would be continued supply of ammunition. On the good side, the .22 WMR is a commonly available (if pricey) cartridge, such that stocking up prior to Z-Day, or scavenging supplies in wrecked Wal-Marts post-Z, is entirely possible. On the bad side, it's a rimfire cartridge, meaning that it can't be reloaded. And the manual specifically says not to use anything but .22 WMR, so no loading it with .22 Long Rifle.
But the best thing about the pistol is that it is screamingly accurate. Bright fiber-optic sights make target acquisition easy, even in dim lighting. The .22 WMR cartridge is essentially flat-shooting, and its already low recoil is further mitigated by a full-size frame.
So yes, while getting ammunition might be difficult, if you use it only for "oh crap" moments and use your rifle as your primary zombie killer, it ought to serve you fine

Oh sure, you could be reasonable and load up with a semi-auto .22 pistol like a Ruger Mark III for ammunition compatibility, or get a 9mm Glock  (the second most-common pistol caliber and most-issued pistol type in the USA), but now you're just being difficult and letting logic get in the way of a really cool gun that holds 30 rounds, is big like a 1911 but weighs about as much as a squirt gun, and makes really impressive Robocop-style fireballs every time you shoot it. What's not to love?

Well, fine. Whatever sidearm you get for the zombie apocalypse, make sure that it's semi-auto, uses ammo you can re-stock and is a caliber large enough to hurt the occasional human who wants you dead  (because if The Walking Dead has taught me anything, it's that humans are more monstrous than zombies can ever be).

Finally, the machete.  The picture above is a Cold Steel Kukri Machete, which I have lovingly reviewed on my blog because it is badass, but honestly any machete or sufficiently large knife will do, so long as

  • It can hold a decent edge;
  • It can take abuse;
  • You can use it both as a tool as and as a weapon. 
I love my kukri because it's essentially a combat meat cleaver that can be used to cut down trees. If it can do that, then it can hack off limbs (and heads) with the same amount of effort. 

But why a machete,  I hear you asking. Why not a spear or a sword, to give you more distance?  Well, here are my reasons:
  1. Spears require two hands to use and one hand to carry. I can strap a machete (or hatchet, etc) to my belt and have both hands free to carry other things (like my rifle), and if I'm in a fight and need my pistol, I can carry the machete in my other hand. 
  2. I'm not Michonne. Swords require more training than axes/hatchets to be used effectively in a fight. 
  3. You can't gut an animal, cut firewood, or make a shelter with a sword or a spear. 

Thank you for indulging me in this light-hearted thought exercise. Next week's article will be more serious, I promise. 

Next week: a different scenario!

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