Friday, January 23, 2009

A further guide to zombie Planning: Firearms pt.1

In light of the other day's inaugural events in Washington, and with no less than four years of Barack Obama as the US President perhaps it's a good time to more deeply assess you Zombie Plan. What does Obama have to do with this? Well for the sake of this post, not much at all aside from being a lock on getting more web crawler hits. Later on however I look forward to addressing the question of "How does Barack Obama as US President effect my Zombie plan" more earnestly.

Thanks Shane, for stopping by the banks to discuss Zombie planing the other day. Shane brings up some good thoughts on assembling your most important line of defense, your firearms. (Check out his comments on the Public Service Announcement). In my earlier post I stated my choice of firearm and briefly addressed some of it's merits. In this post lets take a closer look at firearm selection: some of the considerations you should keep in mind when selecting a firearm and some of the choices of firearms available to you.

Considerations in firearm selection:
A firearm is practically indispensable in assuring your survival during a Zombie breakout. Any firearm is better than none, some however have specific features that make them more or less suitable than others. Lets start off with four main classifications of Firearms, Long arms (rifles), Carbines (short rifles), Shotguns, and Handguns. Ideally one should consider at least one of each of these as each addresses a specific situation you may encounter more effectively than another.

Long Arms: In my opinion the most indispensable category of firearm, and are your primary means of defense when engagement is inevitable. Here are the positives and negatives of this type of arm.

+ Power: Center fire rifles are, for the most part, designed to drop large game animals (and in military arms, humans). The kinetic energy stored in a 180 grain projectile traveling at speeds often in excess of 2500 ft. per second is huge and will easily obliterate any zombie melon that gets in it's path, even if just partially.

+ Accuracy: Rifles are unquestionably the most accurate of firearms, the ability to dispatch a zombie from more than a football field away should not be understated. We have all seen where one lone zombie becomes attracted to movement or some other stimulus and mindlessly attempts to reach the individual attracting the attention of numerous other zombies. By dispatching that zombie at a much greater distance and ideally before it becomes aware of you will naturally equate to fewer zombies being attracted to your location hopefully avoiding mob type situations.

+ Availability: Hunting and sporting rifles are the most easily acquired class of firearm. Even in countries that require licensing, they are by far the easiest to acquire with the least amount of effort and expense. Naturally finding ammunition for this class of firearm is also quite easy (with some exceptions).

- Size: Naturally a longer firearm is also more difficult to utilize in confined spaces or in close quarters. While they are the best choice for use from an easily defensible position, they are limited in usefulness when forced to leave your primary safe house, for say scavenging activities or find your self in close quarter combat.

- Typically small magazine capacity: Most sporting rifles do not have a magazine capacity beyond 5 or 6 rounds. Even military rifles typically operate in these ranges. The Lee Enfield rifles which had a 10 round magazine are the primary exception, followed by the M1 Garand which held 8 rounds.

-Slow reload rate: Commercial sporting rifles are not manufactured with the idea of fast reloading being a priority and can be quite cumbersome depending on model. Again former military rifles; where they may lose out on accuracy, they are/were manufactured to accommodate more rapid reloading means with stripper clips or removable/replaceable magazines and other systems.

Carbine Rifles: Quite possibly the best all-round choice in firearm. Certainly should be considered a must if wandering or scavenging. Carbine rifles were a military creation for the sole purpose that long arms were a bit unwieldy, and they remain primarily a military arm.

+ Power: Many carbine rifles use the same cartridges as the full calibre long rifles. Some however are manufactured to use special rounds which are somewhere between a pistol round and a rifle round, like the M1 carbine. While in itself a nice gun, the unique cartridge also makes it a dubious choice for scavenging.

+ Size: Notably shorter than the full size rifle, carbines are far better suited for use in more restricted confines. Modern Military carbine rifles have practically perfected this union of rifle calibre bullet and close confines maneuverability.

+ Fast Reload rate: Being again of military design, they are made to be reloaded in a hurry. An indispensable feature in any firearm.

+/- Magazine Capacity: Military models if you can get your hands on one are the best choice as they carry the most number of round of ammunition. Civilian models however (which most of us only have access too) seldom have magazine capacities (especially here in Canada) of more than 5 rounds, thus making multiple magazines a necessity.

+/- Accuracy: While reasonably accurate at moderate ranges, and far surpassing hand guns, they are by no means as accurate as full size rifles at range. Generally carbines which utilize full calibre ammunition tend to suffer more in accuracy.

- Availability: Naturally being a military arm, even though civilian models are available on the market, they are not nearly as available as full size sporting rifles, and due to their reduced size and design may face further restrictions in some regions. As well availability of ammunition will be considerably more reduced than for many models of long rifle.

Shotguns: The most highly over rated Zombie fighting tool I can think of. While some features of a shotgun may seem appealing and they've been used widely in Film and Television, they're really not on par with the other firearms. Now as I have said before any firearm is better than none, so by all means keep one in your locker if you already have one, but specifically acquiring for your zombie plan is money better spent elsewhere. Shotguns are best for repelling looters and living invaders, temporarily anyway, as a dead looter will be trying to gnaw on your leg in an hour.

+/- Less Accuracy required: The whole intent of a shotgun is to spread projectiles over a wide area to increase the odds of hitting a difficult target. Sounds great just point at the zombie pull the trigger and watch his head blow apart. The negative here is that if you spread your shot too thin none of it's going to do anything. Again with the kinetic energy, even .32" diameter 00 buckshot fired from a shotgun traveling at sub sonic speeds will have only a fraction of the kinetic energy of a centre fire rifle bullet, thus you'd need to compound this effect with as much of the shot impacting the target as possible. There are multiples factors with a shotgun that effect this; Range, Choke and Shot selection being the keys.

+/- Size: Tactical shotguns like Carbine rifles are designed for close quartered combat and matched with an appropriate shot selection could be useful as a last minute line of short range defense. Sporting shotguns on the other hand are really no shorter than long rifles, and "sawing off" a shot gun really make it far less effective that you would think, reducing effective range, increasing the spread dramatically, making the recoil almost uncontrollable and becoming more of a danger to you and your still living companions and than means of protection.

- numerous acceptable shells: Unlike rifles that will accept one size cartridge shotguns can chamber different dimensions of shells. While typically not as catastrophic as loading the wrong ammunition in a rifle (shells of the same gauge come in a variety of lengths) a 20ga shell can drop into the barrel of a 12ga shotgun and become extremely dangerous if a 12ga round is fired off behind it. A shorter shell of appropriate gauge is acceptable, a longer shell will damage the gun. Figuring out which is which in the dark with a zombie horde at the door is not a good situation. I'll touch on this a bit more later too.

- Power: Most ammunition is practically useless. Along with a variety of shell sizes there are numerous different shot sizes (shot is the projectiles in the shell if you didn't get that already), most of which are designed for small game and birds. Only the larger buck shot would have any effectiveness against zombies. Keep in mind Dick Cheney shot an elderly hunting companion in the face at point blank range with bird shot and he survived. So what good would this be on a zombie?

- incompatible combinations: Sporting shot guns come in a variety of chokes to effect the resulting shot pattern at different ranges, however they will still chamber inappropriate shells. Trying to shoot #1 gauge buck shot through a full choke shotgun would be disastrous.

- poor reload rate: With the exception of a few of the newest tactical shotguns which use removable magazines, the vast majority are not capable of being reloaded very quickly as they must be loaded one shell at a time.

- low magazine capacity: Sporting shotguns camber 2, 3 or 5 cartridges at most (three being the legal limit internationally for migratory bird hunting). Some modern tactical shot guns however can hold as many as 6 to 10 rounds.

* As you can see the best choices here are clearly modern tactical shotguns, but again keep in mind scavenging suitable ammunition will be more difficult.

Hand Guns: When it comes down to it and zombies are coming through the window, or while crawling through very confined spaces while out scavenging, or any other situation where using two hands on your firearm is not possible a good hand gun is your best and possibly last line of defense.

+ Size: Well lets face it it's really the one feature that makes a handgun valuable.

+ Power: Really at close range even the .38 round will be effective enough, but I do concur with Shane that a .40 or .45 is a better choice. After all a bigger boom means less chance of needing to take a second shot. Pistol rounds are not nearly as powerful as rifle rounds, but they will certainly do the job.

+ Magazine Capacity: Semi-automatic pistols are nothing new dating back to the first decade of the 20th century. So while revolvers are still available their limitations in regards to capacity and reload rate are obvious. For that reason I'm not really going to bother with them here. Clip fed Semi -automatic pistols typically hold 12-15 rounds of ammunition and in some cases more. And when your in a close quarters situation multiple zombies are very likely. The more ammunition in your firearm means the less time you have to spend reloading and the greater your chances of getting out alive.

+ Reload rate: Magazine fed pistols can be reloaded very quickly, more quickly than most any type of rifle of shotgun.

- Accuracy: With short barrels and reduced sub-sonic loads, pistols do not have good accuracy at anything but close range combat.

-Availability: Hand guns are the most restricted of firearms requiring the most time and effort to acquire legally.

So there is a primer on firearm selection in part 2 we will look at and discuss some other aspects of firearm selection, such as action type and ammunition. Please feel free to chime in and discuss your views of firearm selection for your zombie plan.

G. Macabre


protected static said...

I vote for the Saiga as an option - it's a sporterized, Russian-made AK-47 variant; it's a magazine-fed, semi-auto firearm that comes in various flavors of BOOM!: 12ga, 20ga, .410 shotgun flavors as well as 7.62x39, .223 & .308 rifle versions. Both come in carbine (16") and rifle (20") barrel lengths.

Sadly, the price on these puppies has gone way up what with the run up to the election and all that...

Gary D Macabre said...

ps: I think I'll do a firearms part three with a look at some of the options out there. Stick around for that, and thanks for the suggestion. You can't ignore the Russian semi's. Yeah the rush on semi-automatics in the US and the price hikes have to suck. But not near as badly as it will be if Obama tosses the second amendment in the round file. As much as Canadian politics sucks and our gun laws are lame I admit I'd hate to be a gun collector in the US right now.

I admit I like the old Milsurp stuff, but a PS90 would be one awesome zombie buster while in no-mans land.

sexy said...
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Blake said...

nice hatchet job on shot guns. I've seen a shot gun, using slugs, effectively engage a target at 100 feet. Of course, it's primarily a short range weapon, and those long range shots fall under the c-zone (50-100 feet). The B zone is 15-50 feet, where you'll get at least one and probably multiple hits on a body sized target with any type of shot (this was likely the range with old Dick and his bird shot, because...) In the A-zone (0-15 feet) the wad and shot won't have enough time and distance to spread out, hitting the target as a single mass, regardless of shell type. and remember, a 12 gauge is .729 inches ( a .729 caliber, if you will). the shot gun is far better suited for very close (but not super tight) quarters, like clearing rooms. looking at a zombie 10-15 feet away, lining up a head shot will be a little dicey. but let me blow a hole clear through his spinal cord, he'll go down (if i miss center ALL of the energy from the round will go into him, at least knocking him back a bit) and i'll be fine if i stay away from his head. you should probably have the proper ammo for your weapon lined up before the zombies come knocking, no matter what happens (you have to sit and load those magazines anyway). You are right about the reload rate, it's one of those weapons you always keep topped off, and have your secondary ready to go if things get hairy. if you get used to it, you can load a round straight into the chamber and fire pretty quick, but a reliable secondary would be preferred. People also have a tendency to "short rack" a pump when adrenaline is flowing, but people can screw up anything they've not practiced, like seating their magazine properly or clearing a jam. buck shot goes through a full choke just fine, you just aren't quite as tight a spread as a cylinder bore. carbines are mostly chambered in .223/5.56 (which is a good thing, they'll bounce around inside the skull after the initial penetration, reducing brain to mush). errr the military should have just gone to a chopped down M14 or
FAL so their guns kept the KE that they now don't have (sorry pet peeve). you short change revolvers a little, because, for those with less experience with firearms, you don't have to worry about a jam. A gun/weapon is a tool, designed to do certain jobs (rifle, carbine/AR, shotgun, pistol::long range, intermediate range, close range, last line of defense). In the event of the zombpocalypse, hoard your shotgun shells, I'll come up and take them off your hands for ya.