Logo Zombie survival guide Chapter 2 weapons and combat techniques
The undead
Weapons and combat techniques
On the Defense
On the run

On the AttackLiving in an undead worldBuy the book on amazon


General Rules , Close Combat , Slings and Arrows , Firearms , Explosives , Fire



1. OBEY THE LAW!: Regulations governing weapons such as firearms and explosives depend on your location. Follow them to the letter. Punishment may range from a sizable fine to incarceration. In any case, the resulting criminal record is something you cannot afford! When the dead rise, law enforcement must look upon you as a model citizen, someone to be trusted and left alone, not a felon of questionable background who should be interrogated at the first sign of trouble. Fomnately, as this chapter will show, simpler, legal weapons will serve you much better than paramilitary death machines.

2. TRAIN CONSTANTLY: No matter what weapon you choose, from a simple machete to a semiautomatic rifle, it must become an extension of your body. Practice as often as possible. If classes are available, by all means sign up. Learning from qualified instructors will save immense time and energy. If the device can he disassembled, do so, both in sunlight and total darkness until you know every pin, every spring, every curve and edge of that all-important machine.

3. CARE FOR YOUR TOOLS: Weapons, no matter how simple they may be, must he cared for as if they were living things. Anyone with firearm experience knows that inspection and cleaning are part of everyday use. This also applies to close-combat weapons. Blades need polish and rust protection. Grips need checking and maintenance. Never abuse your tools or expose them to unnecessary damage.

4. BEWARE DISPLAY ITEMS: Many companies offer a variety of replica weapons, such as swords, bows, etc., that are meant merely for decoration. Always research your chosen item thoroughly and ensure that it is intended for actual use in the real world.

5. DEVELOP THE FIRST WEAPON: The human body, if cared for and trained properly, is the greatest weapon on earth. Weapon No. 1, the biological tool that is our body, can and must be transformed from prey to predator. Obey a strict diet and physical-fitness regimen. Concentrate on cardiovascular instead of strength-building exercise. Monitor any chronic health conditions you may have, no matter how small. Even if your worst ailment is allergies, treat them regularly! When a situation does arise, you must know exactly what your body is capable of! Study and master at least one martial art. Make sure its emphasis is on escaping holds rather than delivering blows. Knowing how to slip from a zombie's clutches is the single most important skill yon can possess when yon find yourself in close combat.

back too top


Hand-to-hand combat should almost always be avoided. Given a zombie's lack of speed, it is much easier to run (or walk quickly) than stand and fight. However, it may be necessary to destroy a zombie at close quarters. When this happens, split-second timing is critical. A wrong move, a moment's hesitation, and you may feel cold hands gripping your arm, or sharp, broken teeth biting into your flesh. For this reason above all, choosing a close-combat weapon is more important than any other in this section.

1. BLUDGEONS: When using a blunt weapon, the goal is to crush the brain (remember, the only way to kill a zombie is by destroying its brain). This is not as easy as it sounds. The human skull is one of the hardest, most durable surfaces in nature. So, of course, is the zombie's. Extreme force is needed to fracture, let alone shatter it. However, this must be done, and done with a single, well-placed blow. Missing your target or failing to breach the bone will leave you with no second chance.

The best bludgeon is a steel crowbar. Its relatively lightweight and durable construction makes it ideal for prolonged close combat. Its curved, semisharpened edge also allows for a stabbing motion through the eye socket, directly into the brain case. More than one survivor has reported killing zombies in this manner. Another benefit of the crowbar is that it may he necessary to pry open a door, shift a heavy object, or perform other tasks for which it was originally designed.

Machete2. EDGED WEAPONS: Blades, in any form, have advantages and disadvantages over bludgeons. Those hat have enough strength to lit the skull rarely stand up after many repetitions. For this reason, slicing, particularly decapitation, serves almost the same function as a head blow. (Note: The severed head of a zombie is still able to bite and must be regarded as a threat.) The advantage of slicing over bludgeoning is that it can make killing a zombie unnecesssuy. In some cases, I simply chopping off a limb or severing the spine is enough to disable an undead assailant. (Note: Severing a limb also brings the possibility of contact with the virus through the exposed area.)The civilian ax can easily crush a zombie's skull, smashing through bone and brain in one swing. Decapitation is equally easy, which is why the ax has been the favored tool of executioners for centuries. Connecting with a moving head, however, might be difficult. Furthermore, if the swing ends in a total miss, you might be taken off balance. The smaller, one-handed hatchet is a good weapon of last resort. If you find yourself cornered, and larger weapons are useless, a hatchet blow will more than take care of an attacker. The sword is the ideal edged weapon, but not every kind will suffice.

The sword is the ideal edged weapon, but not every kind will suffice.Single-handed long swords allow you a free hand for other tasks such as opening a door or defending your body with a shield. Their only drawback is the lack of swinging power. One arm may not have the strength to slice through the thick cartilage between bones. Another drawback is its user's notorious lack of accuracy. Scoring a flesh wound anywhere on the body of a living opponent is one thing. Making an exact, clean chop through the neck is something else altogether.

Double-handed swords could be considered the best in their class, providing the strength and accuracy for perfect decapitation. Of this type, the Japanese Samurai Katana ranks first. Its weight (three to five pounds) is perfect for long-term conflicts, and its blade can sever the toughest organic fiber.

The Japanese Ninjite boasts a two-handed grip and, in genuine models, renowned tempered steel. Both factors make it a superior weapon. The common machete, because of its size, weight, and availability, is probably your best choice. If possible, the military type usually sold at the surplus stores. Its steel tends to be of a higher quality, and its blackened blade helps concealment at night.

3. MISCELLANEOUS HAND WEAPONS: Spears, pikes, and tridents serve to skewer a zombie, keeping it out of reach but not necessarily scoring a kill. The chance of an eye-socket stab is possible, but remote.

Knives are always useful, serving a variety of functions in a range of situations. Unlike a hatchet, they can kill a zombie only when the blade is stabbed through the temple, eye socket, or base of the skull. On the flip side, knives almost always weigh less than hatchets and, therefore, are better if you are on the move. When choosing a knife, make sure the blade is no more than six inches long and always smooth. Avoid serrated knives and saw-blade combinations found in survival knives, as they tend to become lodged in their victims.

The trench spike is, without a doubt, the best compact anti-zombie weapon on earth. It is a combination of a seven-inch steel spike for a blade and brass knuckles for a handle. It was developed during the vicious hand-to-hand combat of World War I and it was designed to stab downward, through an enemy's steel helmet.

chainsaw4. POWER TOOLS: Popular fiction has shown us the awesome, brutal power of the chainsaw. Its lightning-quick, rotating teeth can easily slice through flesh and bone, making the strength and skill required for manual weapons unnecessary. However, chainsaws and similar powered devices rank extremely low on the list of practical zombie-killing weapons. For starters, their fuel supply is finite. Once drained, they provide as much protection as a hand-held stereo. Carrying extra fuel or power cells leads to the second inherent problem: weight. Like any machine, another problem is noise. A chainsaw's distinctive roar, even if running for just a few seconds, will be enough to broadcast to every zombie within earshot, "Dinner is served!"

back too top


It is a commonly held notion that using non-firearm ballistics such as bows and slingshots are a waste of energy and resources. In most cases, this is true. However, if used properly, such a weapon will enable you to score a kill at long range with little or no sound.

1. The SLINGSHOT: A descendant of the leather strap, the modem slingshot has at least ten times the accuracy of its ancestor, the sling. What it lacks is punch. Small projectiles fired from a modem slingshot simply do not have the force, even at minimum range, to penetrate a zombie's skull. Using this weapon might serve only to alert a ghoul to your presence.

2. The LONG OR COMPOUND BOW: To be blunt, hitting a zombie through the head with an arrow is an extremely difficult feat. Even with compound bows and modem sights, only experienced archers have a chance of making a direct shot. The only practical use for this weapon is the delivery of incendiary arrows. For starting fires silently, at long distance, nothing works better than crossbowa flaming arrow. This manner of attack can, and has, been used to set undead individuals on fire. The targeted zombie will not know enough to pull the arrow from its body and might, given the right circumstances, bum other ghouls before succumbing to the flames.

3. THE CROSSBOW: The power and accuracy of a modem crossbow can send a "bolt" (crossbow arrow) clean through a zombie's skull at over a quarter mile. Small wonder it has been dubbed "the perfect silent killer." Marksmanship is important, hut no more so than with a rifle. The crossbow is a sniper's weapon, not a crowd-stopper.

back too top


Of all the weapons discussed in this book, nothing is more important than your primary firearm. Keep it cleaned, keep it oiled, keep it loaded, keep it close. With a cool bead, steady band, and plenty of ammunition, one human is more than a match for an army of zombies.

Choosing a firearm must be an exact science, with every variable considered. What is your primary goal: defense, attack, or flight? What outbreak class are you facing? How many people, if any, are in your group? What environment is your battleground? Different firearms serve different functions. Almost none serve all. Selecting the perfect tools means dispelling conventional doctrines of warfare that have worked so well against our fellow humans. Sadly, we know all too well how to kill each other. Killing zombies-that's another story.

1. THE HEAVY MACHINE GUN: Since World War I, this invention has revolutionized human conflict. Its mechanism allows a storm of lead to be discharged in seconds. These tactics may be invaluable on the human battlefield but are a feckless waste against the living dead. Remember, yon are going for a head shot: one bullet, precisely placed. But what about the massive body damage caused by these weapons? Won't a machine gun have enough punch to rip a body in half,

For one, the chance of dismembering a zombie is slight and therefore requires large amounts of ammunition. For another, unless the brain is destroyed, the zombie itself is still alive-crippled, yes, perhaps even immobile, but still alive. Why give yourself the unnecessary need of having to finish off a mass of writhing and potentially dangerous body parts?

ak-472. THE ASSAULT RIFLE: This weapon was invented originally to bridge the gap between the rifle and submachine gun, offering both range and rapid fire. Wouldn't these traits make it ideal against the undead? Not really. Although range and accuracy are needed, rapid fire, as we've seen, is not. Even though an assault rifle can be set for semiautomatic, just like a submachine gun, the temptation to go full auto still exists, as it does with a submachine gun. The U.S. Army M16Al is considered by many to be the worst assault rifle ever invented. Its overcomplicated mechanism is both difficult to clean and prone to jamming. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Soviet AK-47 is considered the best assault rifle ever made. Although heavier than the M16 and possessing a considerably harder kick, this weapon is famous for its rugged efficiency and sturdy construction. Again, although the assault rifle is not ideal for defense against the living dead, a member of the AK-47 family will be your best bet.

3. THE SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLE: Since its debut, this weapon has shown itself to be a superior zombie killer. For close combat or for people on the run, the semiautomatic carbine serves the same function as the larger model. Although possessing half the range, the carbine tends to be lighter and easier to carry, and uses smaller ammunition. Either type will serve you well, depending on the situation. When choosing a semiautomatic weapon, the World War II M1 Garand or M1 Carbine are, in many ways, superior to contemporary weapons.

4. THE SHOTGUN: At close range against human attackers, this weapon reigns supreme. Against the living dead, this is not entirely true. A good twelve-gauge shotgun can literally blow a zombie's head off. However, the longer the range, the greater the pellet dispersal pattern, and the lesser chance of skull penetration. A solid slug would have the same effect as a rifle, even at greater range (provided the barrel is long enough), but in that case, why not just use a rifle? What shotguns do possess is stopping power. The scattering shot acts as a solid wall, whereas a rifle bullet might pass clean through or miss the target altogether. If you are cornered, or on the run, and need time to escape, a good shotgun blast can send several zombies sprawling. The downside of a shotgun is that the large, twelve-gauge shells are bulky and therefore burdensome when traveling and leave less room for other equipment. This must be considered if a long journey is required.

5. THE PISTOL: How useful is this cultural icon against a swarm of newly risen flesh-eaters? In truth, not very. Unlike our fictional heroes, the average person may have difficulty hitting anything, let alone something as small and mobile as a zombie's head. Throw in the obvious emotional strain of undead combat, and the possibility of a successful shot ranks one step above negotiating with your attacker. Studies have shown that of all wasted ballistic wounds-e.g., those that struck a zombie in a nonlethal way-73 percent came from some type of handgun. If your primary weapon is a carbine, this adds the possibility of shared ammo and lighter load. For these reasons, a pistol should always be carried when confronting ghouls, but as a backup only.

6. .22-CALIBER RIMFIRE WEAPONS: These weapons (rifle or pistol) fire a round no wider than a few millimeters and no longer than an inch. In an attack by the undead, however, the diminutive .22 rimfire stands proudly alongside its heavier cousins. The small size of its rounds allows you to carry three times as much ammunition. This also makes the weapon itself lighter, a godsend on long treks through ghoul infested territory. The ammunition is also easy to manufacture and plentiful throughout the country. A ghoul taking a round to the chest would not even he slowed, let alonei stopped, by this puny projectile. Another problem is the lack of skull penetration at longer ranges. With a .22, you might have to get a little too close for comfort, a fact that could increase stress and degrade the odds of a kill. By the same token, the lack of power in a round fired by a .22 has been called a blessing in disguise. Without the force to punch through the back of a zombie's skull, .22 bullets have been known to ricochet inside the brain case, doing as much damage as any .45. So when it comes time to arm yourself against a looming zombie menace, do not discount the small, almost toylike nature of this nimble, efficient firearm.

back too top


Question: What could be better than hurling a hand grenade at a mass of approaching zombies? Answer: almost anything. Anti-personnel explosives kill mainly by shrapnel, metal shards tearing through vital organs. As this will not affect zombies, and the chance of shrapnel penetrating the skull is slim, grenades, bombs, and other explosive tools are inefficient weapons. These devices should not be completely discounted, though. For blasting through doors, creating instant barricades, or even scattering zombie mobs, nothing works better than a jar of gunpowder.


zombie on fireThe living dead have no fear of fire. Waving an open flame in a ghoul's face will do nothing to slow or impede its advance. Zombies who have caught fire will neither notice nor react to the engulfing flames in any way. Too many humans have met with tragedy forfailing to understand that fire is no deterrent to zombies! As a weapon, however, fire is still humanity's greatest ally. Complete incineration is the best way to destroy a zombie once and for all. Burning eliminates not only the body but all traces of Solanum. However, don't think a flamethrower and several Molotov cocktails are the solution to all your problems. In actual combat, fire can be as deadly a threat as it is a protector. Flesh-human, undead, or othenvise-takes a long time to burn. In the minutes or hours before a blazing zombie succumbs, it will become a walking-or to be perfectly accurate, a shambling-torch. Several cases have been recorded in which burning ghouls have done more damage, even caused more deaths, than they would have with only their fingernails and teeth. Fire itself has no loyalty. Consider the flammable nature of your surroundings, the chance of smoke inhalation, the possibility that a blaze will act as a beacon for other zombies. All these factors must be considered before such a powerful and unpredictable weapon is unleashed. For this reason, fire is mainly considered an attack or flight weapon, and rarely used for static defense.

back too top

homepage buy the book