> TEOTWAWKI Blog: The Zombie Survival Guide - Could it get you zombified?



The Zombie Survival Guide - Could it get you zombified?

I'm only a few chapters into the well known Zombie Survival Guide, but I've already come across more than a few inaccuracies, errors and plain old bad advice from the author. If you read this book expecting it to be the bible of zombie survival, you may be in for some unpleasant surprises when the undead armies rise.

I've only just finished the firearms section, but felt that I needed to clear up some confusion and correction some errors and misinformation conveyed by the author. He is clearly uneducated and untrained in firearms, but speaks as if his bad advice was final.

The first bit of bad info that I must correct is the author's straight out and foolish dismissal of the AR-15 style rifle. He uses the weapon system as an example of the absolute "worst" in a rifle, though most of his criticisms are unfounded. Here are a few examples.

"both difficult to clean and prone to jamming"
WRONG. The AR-15 is far from "hard to clean"; it can be disassembled easily for cleaning. When maintained at all, it is a very reliable platform.

"Adjusting the sight, something that must be done every time a target shifts its range, requires the use of a nail, ballpoint pen, or similar device."
WRONG. It is the front sight that requires a tool to adjust (you can just use the tip of a 5.56 cartridge to do so). After an initial "sight in" for a new rifle, you should not need to adjust the front sight again, let alone when a target is moving towards you. That's completely retarded. I actually don't know of any rifles off hand that have very easily adjustable front sights, let alone the AK-47, which the author promotes as the "best" assault style rifle.

"The delicate plastic stock of the M16A1 obviates bayonet use, and attempting to use it as such you would risk shattering the hollow, spring-loaded stock."
WRONG. First off, using a bayonet doesn't have a whole lot to do with the weapon's stock. The bayonet attaches to the front of the weapon, not the back. Yes, a buttstroke from the plastic stock of an M16/AR-15 will not do much damage to an enemy, but a buttstroke from nearly any modern weapon will do little to destroy an attacking zombie's brain. Finally, the "hollow" stock is made from steel and not likely to "shatter" any time soon.


Classifying the M-16, AR-15 and AK-47 as "assault rifles" but classifying the M1 carbine and Mini 14 as "semi automatic rifles.'
WRONG. All fall into the category of carbines, and have fairly similar capabilities. As an example, the AR-15 and Mini 14 are both semi automatic .223/5.56 rifles, are the similar in size and weight and use 20 or 30 round detachable magazines. Furthermore, the author cites the semi automatic rifle as a "superior zombie killer" and disparages the assault rifle as "not ideal for defense against the living dead." Uhuh. Clearly, the author has no clue about the weapons he's discussing. As an example, he recommends the old M1 carbine as a "superior" weapon, despite the underpowered, short ranged and fairly uncommon .30 Carbine cartridge that it uses. Now the M1 is certainly a handy, easy to use weapon, when the zombocolypse rolls around, I'd much rather have an AR-15 or AK nearby.

Ignoring the "battle rifle" category.
FOOLISH. The author appears to be completely unaware of the classic survivalist's choice of rifle, the battle rifle. He doesn't even mention this category of weapon; the venerable FAL, M1A and others get no mention. Not discussing these weapons is a glaring omission in any discussion of survival firearms.

Handguns are an afterthought.
FOOLISH. The author's discussion of handguns is a woefully short afterthought. Basically, his view boils down to "you won't hit anything, but because they're light, you should carry one anyways. Wrong. When your primary weapon (your rifle) runs dry and zombies are only a few steps away, transitioning to a sidearm will always be faster than reloading your rifle. Accuracy with a handgun requires more practice, but headshots are certainly possible, especially at the up-close range of the situations you would use it in. A secondary firearm is an essential tool for every undead fighter, and disregarding its importance is as brain dead as any necrotic zombie.

A pitifully short and incomplete section on "accessories."
No mention of red dot sights, support gear (holsters, magazine pouches, etc.). No mention of how much ammunition to carry (lots). 

If you were reading this book as a complete novice to zombie survival--yes, this book could lead you to make some bad weapons choices that could get you killed.

The takeaways from the firearms section are that one should probably choose from a military bolt action gun, a M1 Garand or M1 Carbine, and a lever action gun. While these are of course better than going without a rifle, there are much better choices when it comes to combating the undead. The bolt action and lever action guns have too low of magazine capacities, follow up shots are comparatively slow, and reloads are by stripper clips at best, one round at a time at worst. The M1 Garand is big, heavy, has a limited ammunition capacity, and fires an over-powered round for zombie slaying. The M1 Carbine is perhaps the best recommendation, but as mentioned, there are better choices.

It is well known that zombies attack in large numbers; a single zombie can be fairly easily dealt with, but a horde of zombies is deadly. It is also well known that the undead are most dangerous at close quarters--they can only rely upon the teeth and hands for combat. Zombies having a way of sneaking up on their intended prey, jumping out at them at the last possible moment. Large groups of zombies--six or more--at under 25 yards--are common. One's weapon selection should reflect those realities.

If a novice were to follow the recommendations of the Zombie Survival Guide and end up with say, a .30-30 lever gun as his main rifle, he'd be in for definite trouble when set upon by more than a few zombies at under 25 yards. A group of 10 or 12 zombies and he'd be toast, unless an exceptionally speedy reloader or carried a high capacity handgun as a back up.


Primary Weapon
When combating zombies, you want high capacity, semi automatic fire, easy reloads, utter reliability, accuracy for the necessary head shots, medium range (300 to 500 yards max effective range), readily available ammunition, and ammo that's light enough that you can carry it in quantity.

While several weapons can meet these criteria, my general recommendation for a zombie defense rifle is the AR-15 rifle, topped with a military grade red dot optic like an Aimpoint or a 1-4x magnification close quarters combat scope. The standard magazine is 30 rounds, though higher capacity 40-round magazines are coming to market. Rapid and accurate semi-automatic fire is easy, and the recoil can be handled by almost anyone. The AR-15, despite claims to the contratry, is a very reliable weapon system--and if you're concerned about the gas system, relatively inexpensive gas piston rifles are available. ARs are capable of incredible accuracy, even in off-the-shelf models. In the U.S., ammunition and magazines are inexpensive and readily available in every gun shop and sporting goods store, and could be scavenged from military and law enforcement depots in the event of a complete zombocolypse (although only as a last resort). .223/5.56 is a very accurate round within the range envelope that you will be engaging undead, and more than capable of punching through zombie skull at those ranges. Magazines are compact enough that one can fairly easily carry from six to twelve or more mags on a chest rig, giving the survivor several hundred rounds, ready to go. The rifles themselves are also lightweight when compared to other models, a big advantage when traveling on foot.

Don't get me wrong, the AK-47--the AR's main competitor--is a great weapon. The AK does have advantages in simplicity and reliability, and folding stock AKs are definitely more maneuverable inside cramped spaces than a fixed stock AR. That being said, the AR-15 has certain advantages that are specific to zombie combat. The AK is a bit less accurate, a bit harder to mount an optic on, a bit heavier, a bit slower to reload, magazines and ammunition are a bit bulkier (meaning you can carry less), and ammunition, spare magazines, parts and accessories are less common place (at least in the U.S.). As zombies only strop for headshots, the extra "oomph" that the 7.62x39 round has over the 5.56 is not an advantage. Likewise, the extra long range and stopping power provided by a .308 battle rifle is also unnecessary for zombie combat. Pick what works for you, but most survivors will be better served with an AR-15 pattern rifle.

Secondary weapon
Your secondary weapon should also be high capacity, simple to use and completely reliable. There are several 9mm semi automatic pistols that fill this role well--the Springfield XD series, the Smith and Wesson M&P series, and the famous Glock pistols would all serve well in this capacity. I generally lean towards the Glock 17 or 19, due to their commonality and easily available high capacity magazines. When things get desperate, having a 33 round "happy stick" may save you from becoming zombie food.

Tertiary weapon
Yes, if you're expecting hordes of the undead, you should probably carry at least one back up gun. You would only go to this weapon if both your primary and secondary had gone down or were otherwise inaccessible--a complete SHTF. For this role, I recommend a Smith and Wesson 642 snub-nosed revolver, with fully enclosed hammer. While it is low capacity, slow to reload, and lacks long range accuracy, it will not jam or go out of battery in a struggle. Its compact size makes it difficult for a zombie to hang onto and wrench away from you. The snubbie gives you five shots for sure--a good thing to have when combating the undead. Wear it in a location that would be easy to access in a struggle--the appendix is often favored, but your mileage may vary.

There you have it, some real anti-zombie weapons recommendations--that won't get you zombified.