Weapons You Need to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse – When the zombie apocalypse happens you’re going to need to be able to defend yourself against zombies and bad guys. There are some misconceptions and myths though about the best weapons for use during the zombie apocalypse against zombies.
Before we can pick the weapons to be used we must first consider and understand the threat. To do that we must first analyze the threat by taking a look at what types of zombies you’re going to be defending against, and what likely dangers you’ll face besides zombies. Only then can you adequately defend against the threats you will face during the zombie apocalypse.
There are two main types of zombies.
Undead zombies and pathogenic zombies.
(NOTE: We’ll ignore drug-crazed zombies for now because they’re more based in reality than fiction; also, drugs aren’t infectious like undead and pathogenic zombies, in other words, there would probably be very limited physical methods available to have a drug induced zombie apocalypse simply because of the mechanisms needed to spread such a drug to affect the entire population of the world; to put it concisely, drugs aren’t infectious and don’t “spread” virally.)
Undead zombies are the most popular zombies in zombie lore fiction and pop-culture. Movies, TV shows, games, books, magazines and comics all depict most zombies as undead zombies. These zombies might be the most popular and widely spread type of zombie because they are the oldest kind of zombie in literature. Also called ghouls these zombies are literally the risen/walking dead. Having said that, there are sub groups of zombies within the undead zombie category. The many different sub-groups of undead zombies are beyond the scope of this article, but we’ll touch briefly on zombie lore.
Undead zombie lore is 4000+ years old, and goes back in time all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia and Sumerian culture in the literary story, the Epic of Gilgamesh. Without going into detail, these stories have existed for thousands of years. Read more about the Epic of Gilgamesh
These are the supernatural, magic, undead zombies of the ages and the most common and popular kind of zombie. Over time these zombies have evolved in historical literature into many sub-groups with differing powers and levels of intellect or cognitive ability.
Undead zombies eat flesh and brains, are slow and lumbering, but relentless in their pursuit of humans as a food source. A human can be turned somehow by a bite from, or by being ripped apart and killed by an undead zombie. The human dies and the rises again as an undead zombie in pursuit of other humans. This process repeats until there is a zombie apocalypse that collapses society and wipes out most of humanity.
Survivors shield themselves from, and fight the undead, trying not to be bitten or killed so that they do not “turn”.
There is yet another kind of modern zombie that has evolved into its own stand alone kind of zombie within popular culture, and which is arguably more terrifying.
ENTER THE PATHOGENIC ZOMBIE:
Pathogenic zombies are a relatively new kind of zombie that has emerged in recent history within pop-culture stories. These zombies are created by the infection of humans by some kind of infectious pathogen, usually a virus.
Whether natural or genetically engineered, the zombie virus (pathogen) is highly contagious. Most movies and TV shows, games, books and comics depict these viral zombies as faster, stronger, and having higher cognitive function than undead zombies. (except for some shows that will go unmentioned who chose to use the zombie virus to create undead/braindead slow lumbering stupid zombies that couldn’t get out of their own way if they wanted to)
The debate about which is the more terrifying zombie continues. Undead supernatural zombies have given way in pop-culture to a more realistic and arguably more terrifying zombie; perhaps because a pathogenic zombie could be real, at the very least it’s within the realm of possibility.
There are three main types of pathogenic zombies. Viral zombies infected by a virus, bacterial zombies infected by bacteria, and fungal zombies, infected by some kind of fungus. All are infected by a pathogen of some kind and highly contagious. Viruses are more common and prevalent in these pathogenic zombie stories.
The stories usually depict a genetically engineered virus, a lab accident, and usually some government or private corporation creating some kind of illegal bioweapon. The viruses are genetically engineered to take on the traits of various strains of viruses, sometimes combining the DNA from multiple different viruses and editing the genes of those viruses to enhance certain traits of any given virus.
Specific attention and preference is given to the details of certain traits including mortality/fatality rate, (usually the higher the better; there are viruses with 90% or higher mortality rates). Other areas bioengineers look at to develop is transmission method; i.e. transmission by contact with bodily fluids through physical transfer/injury caused by biting or scratching, or inadvertent or deliberate physical exposure to infected bodily fluids through orifices in the human body.
The viruses are genetically engineered in high security labs under strict supervision of either government entities and organizations or powerful corporations which are developing these deadly viruses for nefarious purposes.
Resident Evil and 28 Days Later are just two very popular zombie virus/zombie apocalypse stories which have reinvented the zombie to be something that’s arguably more terrifying because there’s a chance a zombie like this could be real.
Supernatural zombies might be this terrifying relentless death pursuing you around the zombie apocalypse looking to devour your brain and turn you into the undead, but a viral zombie has a certain appeal to it that is much more than cringeworthy.
Rage zombies are crazier, more aggressive, faster, smarter, and highly contagious. If you’re bitten or get any bodily fluids in your eyes, mouth, in a cut or scrape, you will be infected and you will turn into one of them.
Undead zombies are slow and lumbering, and though relentless, they’re predictable, and anything that’s predictable can be fought off more readily than something that’s unpredictable, fast and deadly.
In this author’s opinion, rage zombies are much more terrifying, not just because they are so dangerous, but because they could be real!
THREAT LEVEL CONCLUSION
Rage virus zombies are more dangerous and pose a greater and much more realistic threat than undead or drug-induced zombies.
During the zombie apocalypse there will be other outside threats from humans. Bad guys, looters, raiders, marauders, gangs, mentally ill people and drug-crazed lunatics. Robbers, rapists, murderers and thieves will have a field day during the zombie apocalypse. Chaos will ensue in a lawless society. It will be like the Old West, but with zombies (there’s an idea for a movie; oh wait, it’s been done) Just about every kind of zombie has been created in the fictional world of the zombie apocalypse. Cowboy zombies, alien zombies, Nazi zombies, undead zombies, smart zombies, dumb zombies, zombie that can talk, zombies that do nothing but growl, slow zombies, fast zombies, etc.
But all these pale in comparison to the most deadly threat. Humans.
To protect and defend yourself and your family and friends in your group during the zombie apocalypse you must properly arm yourself.
By “properly” you must realize and understand that fighting off undead zombies is different than fighting of virus infected rage zombies. You also have to realize that people pose an equal or greater threat and you must arm yourself with the knowledge and weapons it will take to survive.
You mission is survival. Weapons are not only needed but the right weapons must be chosen.
If you’re fighting against human threats, then all weapons are on the table. Melee weapons and firearms, even larger weapons like grenades, launchers, bombs and machine guns will be adequate.
If you’re fighting undead zombies the weapons used will not be the same kind of weapons used against a virus zombie.
For example, an undead zombie is easily killed by any good melee weapon or blunt force object like crowbar, baseball bat, or sharp weapon like knives, spears, or bows and arrows.
HOW TO KILL A ZOMBIE: UNDEAD vs VIRUS ZOMBIES
Killing undead zombies requires the destruction of the brain. Killing a rage virus zombie can be done by either destruction of the brain or multiple wounds to the torso area destroying the internal organs such that the viral zombie is no longer functional. Destroying the legs of undead or virus zombies works to incapacitate both such that a killing shot or blow from a melee weapon can be administered.
Virus zombies are not going to be as easy to kill, and in fact will be more dangerous to kill due to the risk of infection if you’re up close.
Killing a rage virus zombie is extremely dangerous. Exposure to bodily fluid will cause infection. This means melee weapons will be almost useless against virus zombies because you have to get up close to use them, exposing yourself to the risk of infection.
Think of it like this. If someone is infected with Ebola or Marburg virus (the most dangerous hemorrhagic fever viruses in the world) you would not get anywhere near them without proper physical protection against exposure to the virus.
Ebola and Marburg have a 90% fatality rate, and is highly infectious. Any exposure to any bodily fluids can cause infection. Rabies is also highly infectious and without treatment is 100% fatal, is transmitted by biting or scratching and causes aggression and rage in the infected.
Therefore, if a zombie virus is based on any of these diseases, it would be much too dangerous and in fact, it would be foolish to fight virus zombies in hand-to-hand combat.
Which means melee weapons are out when fighting virus zombies. Undead zombies ironically are safer to fight due to their non-infectious nature. This is not to say fighting undead zombies is “safe”.
This means keeping your distance from any zombies. You can fight hand-to-hand with any human enemy, but why would you want to? Your mission is to survive.
So, having said all this, here is the list of weapons you need to survive the zombie apocalypse against all threats.
In order of importance and safety:
RANGED PROJECTILE WEAPONS
NOTE: Long distance “ranged” projectile weapons are listed first because they are safer during the zombie apocalypse because they keep the threat at a greater distance than melee weapons and they also arguably require less-skill to use effectively than melee weapons.
GUNS (RIFLES AND PISTOLS) – A weapon that allows you to keep your distance from the threat. The closer you are to any given threat the more dangerous it is. Therefore it makes sense that the number one zombie apocalypse survival weapon is a gun. Preferably a suppressed or “silenced” gun is better because zombies and people are attracted to sound. So being quiet and not drawing attention is your priority while fighting against zombies and raiders. Guns can also be used for hunting and providing food for you and your group of survivors. Guns are the most effective weapon simply because they are the best technology. Humans developed ever more effective weapons through the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Industrial Age, and now the Information Age. Firearms are the pinnacle of person-to-person, soldier to soldier combat technology. Rifles and pistols are the clear winner here in this writer’s opinion. Ammo is easily reloaded and the raw materials used to create black powder are readily available. Scavenging for ammo is also an effective way to stockpile ammunition. If one is careful and smart, you can survive for many years with just a few hundred rounds of ammunition and a couple few select firearms. (we’ll go into detail about the best types of firearms to use during the zombie apocalypse in a later article). If you know how to reload spent cartridges, you can make more ammunition than you could possibly ever use.
Pros: Deadly effective. Longest range weapon in the zombie apocalypse. Safer to fight because you can keep your distance from the threat. More effective at short, medium and long range. Easy to use when properly trained. Can be used as a threat deterrent to discourage raiders from attacking. Can be used to hunt for food.
Cons: Requires maintenance and cleaning; but if kept clean and maintained properly guns will last a lifetime. Guns need ammo. Guns are loud and will attract attention if not suppressed/silenced. Ammo is heavy and hard to carry large supplies; and you need to be able to reload cartridges to keep ammo supply available; this requires a facility and reloading equipment (just a room or countertop is enough).
BOW & CROSSBOW – These weapons are silent but deadly. 😉 Highly effective weapon against undead zombies and virus zombies, but the viral zombies pose a problem of lost ammo. Some famous zombie slayers use the crossbow and bow very effectively. Defense is straightforward. Some training and practice is needed but is easy enough to train and acquire sufficient skills with a bow or crossbow. Ammo is easily made or scavenged, but not as easily scavenged as gun ammunition simply because guns are more prevalent and as such so are bullets. Finding arrows and crossbow bolts will become an issue.
Pros: Stealth! Almost 100% silent. Highly effective at medium and short range. Accurate. Keeps you safe at a distance.
Cons: Short range. Requires training. If fighting virus zombies you will go through a lot of arrows and crossbow bolts because you can’t reuse them because they’ll be covered in infected blood; meaning it might be self-defeating in the long run if you have many zombies you have to kill because you’ll be spending a lot of time making ammo for these weapons.
SLINGSHOT & SLINGS – Think David and Goliath. These weapons are relatively silent and stealthy and will not attract unwanted attention. A slingshot is very powerful if industrial strength elastic/rubber tubing/bands are used. You can take large game animals with larger more powerful slingshots and slings. They’re great for survival hunting for large and small game alike.
Pros: Silent. Deadly. Powerful. Respectable range.
Cons: Limited short range. Accuracy is a problem with slings, slingshots are more accurate but lack the range.
NOTE: Melee weapons may be used against human attacker(s) for defense purposes very effectively. Melee weapons even provide for an effective defense against undead zombies who are unable to infect you through the transmission of bodily fluids (other than through a bite). You merely have to protect yourself against a bite from an undead zombie and that’s relatively easy to accomplish with thick clothing and/or armor. However, melee weapons when used against rage virus zombies is a BIG FAT NO-GO because of the extremely high risk of exposure to infection.
Bladed Melee Weapons
SWORDS – The number one bladed weapon is the katana. The Japanese katana is probably the most used sword in zombie apocalypse movies and stories. Broadswords are large and slow and you have to be very strong to wield one effectively. A katana or ninjatō in this writer’s opinion is by-far the best sword to use if that’s what you choose as you weapon. The ninjatō sword has a straight blade with a tanto tip versus the curved blade of a katana. Both swords are designed to slice through the human body and pierce armor, however the katana is arguably more deadly. Again, there are people who may claim one or the other are better, but both are effective against undead zombies and raiders.
MACHETE – Second on the bladed weapons list is the machete. Machetes are easy to make, cheap, and highly effective at chopping through brush and hordes of undead zombies. Dual machetes would be even better and perhaps even more effective.
LARGE KNIFE – Knives make for very deadly effective weapons. You also need a knife for survival in general for building shelters, cutting cordage, and firewood,
AX or HATCHET – An ax is probably a good weapon in a pinch but I’d be worried it would get stuck in the body of a zombie and then you’d be screwed. If you’ve ever used an axe then you know there are dangers involved. Axes tend to get stuck and this could cause you to get bit by a zombie while trying to remove the blade from a zombie’s chest or skull. A hatchet is more easily controlled than a longer handled ax, but you have to get closer to the zombie or raider to be effective. This increases the level of risk associated with this weapon. It looks badass on screen, but for practical purposes axes and hatchets are low on the list of zombie apocalypse weapons.
SPEAR – A spear allows you some protection at a relatively safe distance up to 6-10 feet away while holding it, or it can be thrown and is both a hand-held weapon and a projectile weapon. However, it’s not ideal against a virus zombie. Nor is it advisable to throw a spear because then unless you have a backup weapon you are now unarmed. Spears are not advisable.
CHAINSAW – This “weapon” gets an honorable mention just because it’s would be so cool to chop zombies into little bits with it.
Blunt Force Melee Weapons
BASEBALL BAT or CRICKET BAT – The quintessential zombie killing weapon in almost all zombie stories that ever existed in modern pop-culture. It’s such a satisfying zombie-killer weapon. It splatters zombie brains and blood everywhere. It’s one of those weapons that when you use it, it gives you that whole cringey-sexy-face, all squinched up, screaming, eyes wild, swinging crazily, smashing zombie brains. You can pretty much go primal on hordes of zombies splattering zombie pieces and parts everywhere in a blood-soaked gloriously gory mess. YEAH! But…only against undead zombies. Virus zombies are a big fat NOPE…and you know why.
CROWBAR – Another effective makeshift blunt force trauma weapon. Crowbars also double as an excellent scavenging tool. You will need to scavenge during the zombie apocalypse and many people reason that a multipurpose weapon-tool like the crowbar will make for the perfect zombie weapon. Like the metal pipe below, you can modify this weapon-tool as well.
METAL PIPE – A makeshift blunt force trauma weapon. The longer and heavier the pipe the slower it’s going to be and therefore more difficult to swing. It’s a very effective weapon in a pinch, and a few modifications with a welder and a grinder, and some foam tape, and you can create a very nice practical zombie killing weapon. Again, effective only against the undead and human enemies.
STAFF – A martial arts weapon and highly effective again raiders and zombies alike. This weapon requires training to become proficient in its use as a weapon
CLUB – Basically a large heavy ended stick. This could also be made from metal if you have the skills to weld and shape steel or aluminum.
Hybrid/Medieval Melee Weapons
BATTLE AXE – Probably one of the more popular pop-culture weapons. Practically speaking it will work well against undead zombies. And you’ll really look like a badass while you chop through hordes of zombies.
MACE – The mace is a smaller weapon but highly effective against the undead.
HALBERD – Basically a halberd is a spear-axe. It’s got a long handle so you can stay clear of your enemy and keep them at a distance. It’s a fun weapon but not very practical for the zombie apocalypse.
There’s a huge list of medieval “hybrid” type melee weapons that would be effective against undead zombies; however these weapons are beyond the scope of this article. This article only focuses on the most realistically practical weapons that you could actually use.
Melee Weapons Pros: Melee weapons are highly effective against undead zombies and raiders.
Melee Weapons Cons: Melee weapons are not effective against pathogenic zombies; unless you’re immune. You will be infected if you try to use a melee weapon against a virus zombie.
ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE WEAPONS CONCLUSION:
In conclusion, depending on the kind of zombies you are fighting, melee weapons are only an option against undead zombies and human enemies. Melee weapons are not an option against virus infected zombies.
Although it might be someone’s pop-culture zombie wet dream to slash through a horde of zombies with a katana or chainsaw, slicing and dicing and chopping and hacking all the way through, coming out the other side a macabre blood-soaked mess of a zombie-killing badass, it is unrealistic.
Undead zombies are also arguably unrealistic.
However, if a rage virus were to be developed and it did escape accidentally and cause a worldwide pandemic, the resulting viral-outbreak zombie would be too dangerous to fight hand-to-hand. You will almost surely be infected and then you will die. Of that there is no doubt. If you try to fight a zombie that’s infected with a rage virus there is a 99% chance you will be infected. Sorry…that’s just the reality of the fictional zombie.
NOTE: Lol It’s not lost on this writer that zombies don’t exist (yet); but realistically speaking, if they did, they’d most likely be infected with a virus, and that makes them too dangerous to fight in hand-to-hand combat.
POP-CULTURE NOTE: Some zombie TV shows and stories have created plot-devices that claim all survivors are infected or even immune, therefore a character being exposed to blood and bodily fluids will not be infected. It’s kind of smart, because it allows characters to interact with zombies in a more action-packed in-your-face way chopping and slicing and dicing and crushing and splattering zombie blood and guts and brains all over the zombie world and themselves in the process of fighting off the infected herds…versus the alternative, which is being afraid of and avoiding all contact with the infected. This is “action versus terror” zombie apocalypse writing. Again, this is purely this writer’s opinion, but in my educated literary opinion, creating terror is more important than needless superficial action in storytelling. Characters are the most important aspect of a story next to the story itself. There must be a genuine fear of the character being killed. If the fear of being infected is gone, then you’re only left with being eaten alive, or some other dramatic plot-devices have to be created to keep the story entertaining. After a while this gets old because you have to keep inventing dramatic situations for the characters to fight through to survive. Then it’s no longer about the characters, it’s simply about what situations the writers can create that puts the characters in danger and makes the audience afraid the character might die. If you keep the terror of infection, that fear builds throughout the movie/story. The longer a character stays alive, the more that fear builds in the viewer/reader because the reader/viewer/audience becomes more attached to the character. The anxiety and suspense becomes nearly unbearable. If there’s no danger of infection and your beloved characters are just going through infected herds, chopping zombies to bits and smearing zombie blood and guts all over themselves, where’s the terror? It’s just boring drama at that point. It’s human anti-drama, and completely misses the point of the terror that’s supposed to come from zombies in the first place. In other words, the undead-viral zombies in some zombie stories are boring zombies because they can’t make up their mind if they’re undead or viral zombies. They’re no longer scary because they’re so easily dispatched and they pose no greater threat than their numbers; eventually over time these undead-viral rotting zombies would deteriorate to the point where they’ll simply fall apart. Bones would weaken, flesh and organs would liquify and the decaying mass would just spill out all over the ground. No danger of infection. What’s the fucking point of a character who’s immune to zombies? Might as well create a scenario where you break a nail and since there’s no antibiotics to cure the resulting infection, you die. Lol
Anyway…Melee weapons are out unless you’re fighting undead zombies and raiders.
The best weapons for all zombie apocalypse zombies and raiders are projectile weapons because you can stay at a safe distance away from the threat. The second best weapons are knives, swords, and blunt-force melee weapons, but only against human raiders and undead zombies. Viral zombies are too dangerous to fight hand-to-hand.
UNKNOWN INFECTION DANGER: There is also a small but significant danger of being infected by a human/raider that may have been infected in a previous recent fight. Depending on the incubation period for the virus (average is 2-7 days) there is a possibility of coming into contact with a raider that has been infected in a recent fight. If a human enemy is infected and still in the incubation period it’s possible to spread the virus because they are still contagious even though they do not have any symptoms yet. So, contact with any unknown person is highly ill advised. Avoid contact with unknown people. Never allow an unknown person near you or anyone in your group until they have proven themselves not to be a threat and they have gone through proper isolation and quarantine procedures. In other words, if your group doesn’t have a quarantine procedure you will most likely be infected and you will die.
There you have it. There’s your zombie apocalypse weapons list and how and why they will or won’t work. I’ve probably forgotten a few weapons and I’ve deliberately left out certain weapons because it starts to get redundant explaining over and over why melee weapons are a bad idea against infected rage virus zombies.
This list is incomplete, and I’m sure people will let me know how wrong and stupid I am for forgetting about this or that weapon, or because I attacked stupid zombie shows for doing stupid illogical and irratioal zombie things when creating zombie stories. Some folks will not agree with everything here, others will think this is a decent article. I wanted to make it as realistic as you could possibly make it given the subject matter and the fact that zombies don’t exist…yet.
They could exist, and that’s the point.
You can use any of the weapons listed above for defending yourself and your group against zombies and any human enemies that you might run across in the zombie apocalypse. Undead zombies are easily dispatched when they are the slow lumbing stupid brain-dead undead zombies of fiction.
But when it comes to the rage zombies. They are fast, aggressive, violent, strong, and possess higher cognitive function than undead zombies. They can run and climb, open doors, and even pick up and use certain simple weapons like rocks and a trowel. One look at Romero zombies (even though they’re undead) and you’ll realize a viral zombie would most likely still have a similar level of cognitive ability enough to pick up a simple weapon and use it.
This gets us into a whole new zombie territory.
A new kind of zombie. One that is more dangerous. A zombie that doesn’t get tired, runs faster, farther, longer, is stronger, more violent and filled with a terrifying rage that forces it to kill any human it sees or hears, and worse, is extremely contagious.
One drop of blood or saliva could infect you. I don’t know about you, but to me that is much more terrifying than an undead zombie.
This kind of virus zombie is a real technological possibility.
How terrifying would that be?
Are you ready?