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What are the Best Calibers for the Zombie Apocalypse?

by Patrick Sweeney   |  December 20th, 2011 128

Like it or not, not every cartridge is going to get the job done when it comes to keeping you and your family safe from the incoming zombie horde; Hornady had the right idea in making its Zombie Max Ammo available in a wide variety of calibers. That’s why we’ve picked our top eight calibers — four for handguns, and four for rifles.

But it’s not that simple. We can’t just pick eight that we think will best service our zombie-splattering needs. Remember, we have two contradictory tasks we may need to fulfill: stoppers to deal with fast-movers, and poppers to give clean head shots as finishers. You can’t have both; that’s just the way life is. Plus, we may be a long time between re-supply, and we might have to use whatever we can find.

As we like to both have fun with this lighthearted subject and learn all we can about its application in the personal defense realm, we decided to set up a zombie scenario to truly test our apocalypse acumen. We gave our zombie guru Patrick Sweeney a one minute run into the Guns & Ammo office ammo vault (we’ve been collecting since ’73) to grab and stash a box of ammo from each of his essential calibers for rifle and handgun. Sweeney, of course, had a great idea of what he wanted to grab, but he simply couldn’t carry ammo for this full suite of rifles and pistols. Only eight, that’s it.

So, these are the eight boxes he grabbed, based only on caliber. With one minute to choose, there’s no way anyone can look at specific bullet weights and manufacturers. We’re just filling our basic needs here.

Here’s how our experiment turned out…


Be sure to let us have it in the comments below (we know you will), and include what you would do in this scenario. Here’s a gentle reminder: Practice counts much more than caliber.

  • Randy Hicks

    So, so wrong!
    7.62×39 rounds in an AK47 with a 30 round mag. That's the #1 zombie killer. Forget the others.

    • kllenjoke

      for traditional warfare, this is a great weapon combo, not to mention, if a civilian can get there hands on an AK (which you can semi auto or otherwise) its a great weapon seeing as it requires little maintenance and is easy to use, the 7.62 is even rugged and can withstand quite a bit, however, the bullets yaw/ tumble factor is far too low, even in the AK. it could peirce the brain leaving it fairly intact, or even skate the edge of the cranal cavity, both would be devistating to a living person, but who knows if this would prove lethal to the undead. it has good reach and desent stopping power, its plentiful and if used with a basic AK is a great weapon combo for non military. so id have it in my top 8. just not at #1

    • Chase

      Are you high?

  • taledski

    I guess any caliber will work as long as it's in the Hornady Zombiemax line..j/k

    • Tcochran

      The Z-max ammo is basically overpriced hornady red tipped

  • Joe Sobotka

    My Mini 14 is one of my favorite rifles

  • @JayCryptic

    Another vote here for 7.62×39. I'm also quite surprised that the venerable .22LR isn't listed. There's some debate about its efficacy at reliably penetrating zombie skulls (and inflicting enough damage once in to stop them) but having said that .22LR is commonly available, it's small and lightweight, it could double as a survival round for taking small game and, finally, a suppressed .22 might come in very handy for taking down those zombies you just aren't able to sneak past.

    • Ray Marks

      the maffia used subsonic 22 rounds at very close range to the head because it could pentrate but not exit. i think a normal or even high velocity 22 round at <100 yards would do the same. which makes hitting spinal collum less vital because the massive blender effect.

  • Cole

    My personal arsenal is quite well suited, coincidentally, for this imaginary scenario. Springfield M1A Scout (.308) with eotech and 20 rd mags, Smith and Wesson 14.5 inch AR (.223) 30 rd mags, eotech, and railed Colt 1911 with streamlight (.45). Three extremely common rounds and weapons with both long range and short range effectiveness and most importantly all with accurate rapid fire capability. Good luck working a revolver or bolt action against of hoard of incoming anything, unless you're really practiced. Reload times, and time between shots, are important to keep in mind for any extreme defensive survival scenario. Think of the ability of your girlfriend/ wife / untrained friend to accurately operate your weapon. Go with something easy

  • zachary

    My vote is for a .460 mag in a X-frame S&W able to fire.460mag .45 colt .454 casull, and with custom moon clips .45acp .45 gap .460 rowland.

  • ricardo

    .308 out on an fal

  • Jhon

    Magnum Desert Eagle .50 Automatic.

    • DRGUN

      5 shots from that and your wrist will be hurting.

    • DEMAN

      Thats extremely stupid way too much recoil and how many people do you know that have a .50 cal

      • Darren

        i got a 44 MAGNUM DESERT EAGAL

  • chris

    my ak with a 75 round drum and my ar with a 110 round drum

  • Dave

    Sweeney really needs to read some Monster Hunter Int'l, consider the quarry and chose more carefully.

  • randy

    any caliper will as along as you can shoot accurate if you cant hit what you aim at you are zombie food

  • Jimmi

    I am as surprised as many, I would have expected the 7.62 here as well. Also a good old 10mm would be a good stopper and popper as would the 10×22 which would be the .40 S&W….. In the end everyone packs what they are comfortable with…..

    • Rico

      7.62, 10mm, .357 Sig, etc…are NOT readily available, you wont find them at your neighbors house, or ay wally worldThat is the whole argument with stockpiling a .38 Special. Yes, it sucks, but you will FIND Tons of ammo & probably FIND a few handguns as well.

      That is the majority of this article. Grab your .50 BMG, then WHEN you run out of ammo, HOPE you find some along the way?!?

    • jmborge

      Everyone has an opinion and here is mine…
      1) AR15 (5.56/223) – Excellent all around man & predator stopper.
      2) Benelli M4 (12 gauge) – Close range control.
      3) Glock 19 – Perfect size for conceal and duty. Check out the Hornady Critical Duty Plus P.
      4) Ruger 10-22 – The 22 LR is a great all around survival round. Check out the CCI Velocitor or Winchester Hyper.
      5) SCAR 17S – The 308 is a great all around hunting & Go to round.
      6) S&W 686 or Ruger SP101 – The 357 and 38 rounds are common and substantial.
      7) Ruger SR22 – Great pistol, in a great cartridge. This pistol will shoot anything.
      8) Keltec PMR30 – Very interesting and could be used for many applications. The 22 Magnum is very versatile.

  • shadow1911

    1. .22LR
    2. 5.56x45mm
    3. 7.62x51mm
    4. 12GA
    5. .45ACP
    6. .357 mag / .38 Special
    7. .40S&W
    8. 9x19mm

    • collateral1207

      finally 1 review i like the .22 is the best for zombie fighting

    • Rico

      Youd be better off with choosing the .223 & not the 5.56.

      • David / Sharpie

        With a 5.56 you can shoot both, not the other way around

    • jmborge

      We're close and agree on many…
      1) AR15 (5.56/223) – Excellent all around man & predator stopper.
      2) Benelli M4 (12 gauge) – Close range control.
      3) Glock 19 – Perfect size for conceal and duty. Check out the Hornady Critical Duty Plus P.
      4) Ruger 10-22 – The 22 LR is a great all around survival round. Check out the CCI Velocitor or Winchester Hyper.
      5) SCAR 17S – The 308 is a great all around hunting & Go to round.
      6) S&W 686 or Ruger SP101 – The 357 and 38 rounds are common and substantial.
      7) Ruger SR22 – Great pistol, in a great cartridge. This pistol will shoot anything.
      8) Keltec PMR30 – Very interesting and could be used for many applications. The 22 Magnum is very versatile.

      *Stay US NATO*

    • Jerry

      5.56 AR 15 can't beat it! ask Wiki-It beats the 7.62×39!!!!!!

    • Bigtruckboy2001

      Much more of what I was thinking

  • Darin

    Ak for the short rifle, M1 Grande for the long rifle. Most common deer rifle caliber. 8 rds of hard hitting highPower 30-06. And about 3seconds to reload. Dont loose theC clips thou.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    You foolish fools. .22 LR is the ultimate zombie round. Light, cheap, quiet, and easy to find. You can stockpile 1,000 rounds for about $40, and stuff it all in your pockets. It doesn't have any stopping power, but remember that with zombies stopping power is irrelevant; you need to take out the brain. Something like a Ruger 10/22 with a hi-cap magazine is the ideal zombie gun.

    • Alan Karas

      You are exactly right. its all about the brain. a .22lr is perfect. A suppressed 22LR with subsonic ammo is the ultimate weapon for zombie. some may forget that the sound of gunfire may bring thousands of zombies to your location.

      Best plan. Mid to northern Canada. They will freeze in their tracks. all you do is pop them in the head at your leisure.

      • Rico

        A subsonic round running down a baffled suppressor won't have the energy at distance to penetrate & cause tissue damage. A subsonic .22 is usually only 36 grains moving at 950fps or less, some like Colbri move at only 500fps

    • mactex

      Right you are, Rusty. Unless the Zombie disease make the cranium thicken for some reason, the .22 should penetrate more than enough. Low recoil so good followup shots and excellent shot placement out to 100 yards. From Zombie lore, one .22 to the noggin of a Z will stop it before 10 .50 cals to the body.

  • John

    35 Rem
    12 Gauge
    40 S&W

    • collateral1207

      where the hell do you find 35 rem to stock on lol

  • Craig

    Awesome picture of 9mm HPR Hollowpoint. That's now my favorite brand.

    • Torri

      I've shot some of hpr's product at a local range and man I went through almost a case and never seemed to dirty my gun up! Good stuff & American made.

      • D. Evans

        Ditto on your HPR ammo comments. They are the fairly new kid on the block in ammo mfg. They are based in Payson, Arizona. They will be soon expanding their line in more calibers I am informed. I would recommend their ammo products as being top notch and reasonably priced.

  • Danimal

    I was wondering if when you runout of ammo or for close in work if anyone has considered what type of cutting tool would be best? GI shovel, Kurkuri? hand axe? Double bit? Cold Steel has some nice Samuri's as well as others. Can't be over-armed when that fateful day arrives! Quiet and won't alert the other zombies…..

    • Mike K. Calgary

      I am contemplating getting a full length sword cane. At 58 years old and not exactly "in shape", I am sure to get tired quicker than I would like. Say if I'm carrying my overpacked/overweight backpack, the cane (a third leg)should help distribute some of the weight. (I friggin hope!!). Some of the canes they make now are made with super strong polymers and stuff that make them practially indistructable. And the steel for the blade isn't too shabby either.The cane itself makes a good club weapon, especially if your not really using it to stand up! Remove the sword from the shaft/scabbard, now you have a sword for stabbing and hacking and slashing, while the scabbard is in your weak hand being used for defensive purposes. Perhaps you have a few ideas of your own.

    • Mike K. Calgary

      I still would like to aquire a 30-30 and a Henry Arms U.S. Survival AR-7(22 LR). These, I think would complement the Mossberg 590 Marnier 12 Ga. and my Kimber Custom Lazer Grip .45ACP that I have now. Remember earlier that "overpacked/overweight backpack"? There is still my ammo, throwing knifes, whip, slingshot, food, clothing ……..well you get the idea. If I have to ditch stuff perhaps I shouldn't get it in the first place. Except it makes valuable bartering merchandise. Anyway it's just a thought. P.S. I plan on attaching a couple of 2" wheels at the base of my pack frame so it will be easy to drag if I have to do that.

  • dugiboy

    this is just getting sillier and sillier

  • Neto

    Well, since destroy the brain is the goal, the 22Lr Stinger for instance, going to solve the question!
    Pick up a Ruger 10/22 with a large capacity magazines and……… happy!

  • Robert M

    Ruger 10/22 with reasonable optics and 30 round or larger magazines, you're completely set for dealing with shambling hordes IMHO.
    Maybe a 9mm or 45 sidearm to protect yourself from apocalypse threat number 2: other survivors like yourself.

  • Fred

    During many an alcohol lubricated discussion after watching a zombie documentary, I have continually pushed my viewpoint that the venerable .22 LR Hollowpoint would be the perfect zombie weapon, followed closely by the regular .22 LR, then every other size variation. For fast movers, the damage to legs would be considerable, allowing for a more leisurely finishing shot. You can carry a brick of ammo, and even your 10 year old kids could carry at least one each. Most survivors would pass over this "puny" ammo, leaving more for you. Of course, since head shots are THE critical measure, it would have to be a weapon that you can drive tacks with out to at least 30 meters. THAT is your best defense. For close in defense I would also elect the 9mm due mainly to the large mags available. Again, use something that you can hit a cantaloupe with every time at 20 feet. Accuracy is your friend.

    • Rico

      Because everything in the movies & online is TRUE, right?!!M

      When you dispatch a human skull with a subsonic .22 at 100 yards, then I might hold your opinion with a grain of saly. Until then, you have tooooooooo much time on your hand to make any self-proclaimed expert assessment

  • Omar

    AR-15 Double stack 30Rd mags Red dot tripod

  • Cindy

    I would use my birth father's pistol from WWII-a 9mm Walther.

  • John Doe

    While .22lr is a good caliber for varmint, would you hunt wolves, lions or tigers with one? We're talking about something that is hunting us. They have no mental capacity but plenty of tear-you-apart capability. Plain and simple, calibers that work and are plentiful. Guns that have large capacity with plentiful magazines. The pistols and calibers I chose arebased solely on the availability of the Guns and the 1st three calibers can be found in any town in the USA without a problem. 10mm for power and distance even though it's harder to find.
    1) 9mm in a Glock.
    2) 40S&W in a Glock.
    3) .45ACP in a Glock.
    4) 10mm in a Glock.

    For rifles I chose those that are plentiful, reliable, durable and accurate. The AK, durable but inaccurate makes my list only because of the ready availability of mags and ammo and it's inherent reliability due to it's loose tolerances.
    The calibers chosen are accurate and common as dirt. Technically only the .223 and .308 are necessary and will work accurately out farther then most people can shoot with a 3-9x scope. I chose the AR10 over the M1A or Ma Garand because the AR10 can shoot any .308 you find, whereas the Garand action (M1 and M1A) Cannot stand up to countless rounds of hot ammo loaded with powder that burns too quickly or too slowly. The op-rod is it's weak link, more so with the M1 than the M1A, but why risk having a bent op-rod come off of the bolt at the wrong time.
    1) .223 in an AR15
    2) 7.62×51 in an AR10
    3) 7.62×39 in an AK (grudgingly)
    4) no 4th caliber necessary

    • Ryan

      I was sad/surprised to see so few requests for a 12 ga. If you have a slot (no 4th caliber needed?!) then put in the 12 ( Yes I know it's not a rifle cartridge, but it is a long gun). It is a hard hitting, extremely common round, that can serve many different roles with only a change of shell. Buckshot or slugs.

      • Guest

        Now get a decent amount of rounds, say 1,000, and then walk around carrying them for a bit….

        If I could remain stationary, I'd just have an AA12 with frag and incinderary rounds, if I'm on the move (which will most certainly happen) I wouldn't even entertain the thought of a 12 gauge. I have an ammo can full of just #7 shot target rounds; it's heavy to say the least – and unless you have a zombie-proof pack mule, it ain't happening.

  • D. Evans

    Ok, we get the hype, the kidding, the sales pitch ad's, etc. Now, how about a factual review and testing of Hornady's new ZMAX ammunition, say in 9mm? I double dare you to do it….

  • Tory

    .357 125 grain HP out of a Model 19 with 6 inch bbl.
    Gives a little reach and nice velocity.

  • Wolfsgentlepaws

    I disagree with the inclusion of the .44 Magnum and the exclusion of the .40 S&W. The .40 S&W is more common nowadays and there are more guns available to use it.

    Like others have mentioned, the rifle cartridge list needs revision. I suggest the following choices…
    7.62mmNATO (which can do everything the .270 can do, albeit with a different trajectory)
    .22LR (Plentiful, cheap, effective, relatively quiet and easily carried in large quantities.)

    • John Doe

      Agree, hi-cap semi-auto calibers only. Wheel guns are too slow to reload for most people and 44magnum is difficult for fast follow up shots. The range of the 44 is not needed since you have carbines and rifles.

  • Kostas

    Give me a Barrett M82 with a lot of .50 BMG Incediary and i am good to go…

    • collateral1207

      yea right… shoot like 50 rounds and bring entire horde to u within 5 miles and then u better throw the barret away b/c a gun is useless w/o ammo "think" .22 is what u need bro

  • BigBear

    22 LR is perfect. The projectile does not have the energy to pass through the skull completely. it ends up bouncing around inside the skull causing all the damage needed to kill a zombie. long range shooting would be stupid. if a zombie is 200 yards away from you, than it is not a problem. shooting at it will only endanger your life by giving your position away.

  • Dumb Grunt

    How about a cartridge, every one has forgotten…. .30 Carbine/M-1. It is light weight, easy to use, reliable, accurate and still easy to find ammo. While it is not as glamorous as an AR or an AK, it can do the job as well as either of them.

    • Nam Marine

      Sorry Grunt, This caliber is NOT easy to find!

      • Dumb Grunt

        Big 5's got it, they are even selling the carbine. Outside California, Kmart and Walmart had it in some stores.

  • Zedhead2012

    Gents, right you are!
    G&A so called zombie guru sWeeney is obviously a Zed Hunter wannbe with a list like that. Consider your target and use the correct ammo. Why use a sledge hammer when a regular hammer will do? Why lug around all that heavy ammo, increased recoil, when a simple well placed shot will put Zed down?
    But remember to stock up on QUALITY .22LR! Sure, you can get a brick at Wally-World for cheap. But when you are facing a street full of Zed, a misfire is almost certain death. Spend the extra $$ for the good stuff.
    Zed is always lurking!

    • Jamie Spaulding

      I agree. I would have something bigger for looters and piliagers but my choice for Zed would be my suppressed 10/22 with a back pack full of Ruger Hi -Cap mags. We all know even a .45 can glance of a skull but a any bullet, even a .22LR in the soft tissue of the eye socket or auditory canal gets to primal brain every time. I only have one gun I can do that with quickly everytime out to 60yds. And all these guys pooh-poohing the .22 wouldn't dream of dissing a load of number 4 buck at close range. Thats what a hi-cap mag full of .22s is. You just get 'em a tenth of a second apart instead of all at once. LOL

  • able_to_think

    Because all you have to do is penetrate the skull and destroy the brain a high caliber isn't really necessary for a pistol in fact having it bounce around in the skull is a much better as it turns the brain into jelly. I agree with your #1 pick for rifles as having a common ammo type makes scavenging much easier. It also might be good to invest in a silencer too so you don't cause every zombie in the area to come shambling to you when you take one down.

  • Nam Marine

    When TSHTF, go with the caliber that is the most available when your stash runs out! That's a .223. Most Police Departments use it. Cops don't use AK-47 ammo!

  • Norcross

    I definitely can't agree with .38 – I would have to take .357 instead.
    And there has to be at least one shotgun round. 12guage buckshot would be much more useful than .270, I would think. If you really want to go long range the .308 is plenty good enough.

  • bob johnson

    frist of all anybody who takes a ar-15 over an ak is an idiot. the 7.62 will always be superior to the 5.56!

    • Kelly Clay Vernon

      Which is exactly why the russian went to a 5.45X39 round……
      Wait, that doesnt work does it…..

  • Travis Miller

    What every you use, make sure it's a hollow point. More damage done.

  • Andrew

    Sorry, but I've got to say that the humble .22 round should be on the list. It's got to be the most common ammo on earth and, while not great at long distance as it may not get through bone, tell me an ammo that you could carry more of and be more accurate with.

  • Karl

    12 GA Foster slug. .73 caliber from the beginning. If not wearing body armor, it will destroy whatever it hits. It is in my list.

  • Dad

    All wrong,

    9mm and lots of mags. I've never seen a single zombie attacking, they all came in packs and with a 45 you carry what ? 10 per mag ?

    With a Glock you can go 33 per mag or 19 with a XDM. Carry few extra mags and you have easily 100 rounds at your hands.

    Riffle? try to use one at close combat – as coming into a room full of zombies.

    • Ryan

      Problem is with a pistol only, you have to wait for the hordes to come into handgun range. A rifle is not a luxury but rather a necessity. You have much greater range for eliminating hostiles, as well as more stopping power. And if CQB is a concern, a carbine or SBR will do just fine. A 308 carbine or similar would be optimal, or a 7.62 x 39, or even 5.56. Pistol should serve as backup ONLY.

    • pkm9mm

      Finally someone gets it right… Well mostly right. I say 9mm for everything and maybe a silenced .22 for delicate work. My ideal set up is a 9mm handgun with 20 round mags and a 9mm carbine rifle that takes the same magazines. (beretta storm, kel tec sub 2000…) You can stock up on only carry one kind of ammo and one kind of magazine. Any Zombie further out than a 9mm can reach accurately (150 yards or so) is not of concern anyway.

  • collateral1207

    you need a round that is in supply and u can carry alot of and is lethal. 22 ammo is the best due to its penetration. if a .22 can shoot through a baseball it can shoot through your head. the guy that said .50ae is retarded b/c u wont be able to afford over 500 rounds of it. 22 i can easily get a supply of over 15,000 rounds.
    and .22 is not loud at all which will not bring unwanted attention to your hideout or basecamp.
    i recommend getting a 10/22 ruger because it is fast shooting, accurate and very rugged and reliable.

    "22 long rifle"

  • collateral1207

    i bet if i empty a clip of .22 into a 2 inch skull that "SOB" wont be standing

  • GAS2HI

    I'd have to say no to the .22 .
    Zombies won't be the only thing after you. 
    Every jackass with a gun and the intent to steal all your gear is a threat.
    .223 is easy to get but 7.62×39 has more of a hit. Walls and car door can stop a smaller round easy. ( whatever the threat uses for cover.)
    I have to vote AK47 on this. Large mags ammo all over the place. 
    It's also very rugged. Dirt, rust whatever… It keeps going. 
    My AR-15 likes to be clean and oiled. Just more stuff to go wrong.
    I'd say 9mm for a backup or thought indoor use. Glock 17 kicks butt.
    But it basically all comes down to "FP" Face Penetration. Not how big the bullet is. True a 50 BMG has that but if it's that far off it's better to save ammo and go around it.
    I'd also say the SAIGA 12 Ga with 20 round mags will do a nice job on zombie heads.

  • KevinC

    When do zombies cause problems? When they're in groups and feet away from you. How many do you think you're going to snipe with any rifle before they overtake you? 12 guage semi with #4

  • ZOMking

    Have any of you started to think of what a cure might be.

    Let's say you are in a house with weak walls what do you do when they break the wall down…what do you do then besides shoot your self in the head…think about it…it may save your life one day what I have just said.

    Or if you are hiking in the woods one jumps out and attacks you…or you walk out of the woods and all hell has broken loose you had no idea and you get bit in you r house by your husband,son,or daughter or all three.What do you do then?

  • killerchameleon

    All you need is a .22 and hoard all the ammo you can and a 12Ga for the close in counters.

  • ron

    wow some really good idea's and as stated learn shot placement and know how t strip and clean
    whatever you choose.

  • Raymond Hietapakka

    7.62x39mm in an SKS…1,400 rds. for $300 Cdn….when you run out of lead, spear them with the bayonet, or bash their pumpkins with the butt-plate of this EXTREMELY-STURDY rifle….

  • ConcernedCitizen

    Lighthearted subject? When the time comes it won't seem so lighthearted when the former dead are trying to snack on your brains.

    • Phil M. Kelley

      If brain is all the Zombies seek, all of us here in this forum are safe.

  • noradman

    got rid of all my 9's wont kill a possum Multi caliber pistols will be great have two myself
    if yiou have small kids or women who haven't shot before keep 22;s around 10-22 with scope 1 shot one kill
    you can not waste ammo to train samll kids can easily handle a 22 with a adjustable stock length next my fav would be any shotgun for self defense inside your perimeter Remeber that you do not want to attract Zombies but let them pass if they will Save everything be quiet and hidden maybe you can ride it out

    • pkm9mm

      Your 9 wouldn't kill a opossum?! Seriously? I guess we better wake of all the millions of dead Russian and Allied soldiers, dead gang bangers, cops and everybody else who was killed by a 9mm and say "Sorry! You were shot by an ineffective caliber that doesn't really kill anything. You can get up now." I'm guessing you're either full of it or you can't hit an opossum with any caliber.

  • Hersfelder

    As was said in a different post by somebody else, "For those offended by Zombies, bear in mind. The "Zombies" are only a metaphor for whatever hordes we might one day see invading our neighborhood, town, state or country. They could be Crips, illegal aliens upset about laws restricting their access to "entitlements", desperately violent people from your region destroyed by the next hurricane, or members of the "private army" that we've been told will be as well armed and funded as the US Army…"

    And, as my grandfather often said, "A hit with a thirty-two beats a miss with a forty-five." Therefore, I would opt for whatever I could find in the greatest quantity that I could reliably hit a melon out to maybe 100 feet. For me, that is a Ruger 10/22 with some type of optics and some 25-round magazines. Then, for close-in work, a good .22LR semi-auto like the Browning BuckMark or Ruger MkII or other reliable semi with a ~4-inch barrel. Then, when the ammo runs out, my pair of 30-inch machetes, but, this is a gun forum and blades are out of the subject area.

  • Taryn Chris

    SILLY SILLY People

    Anyone who know's anything about ZOMBIES. realzies by now they are nothing more then soft rotting flesh, any low caliber bullet will easiely penertrate their SKULLS as they must be shot in the head.. I can't beleive why so many people want to use heavy weighted down high cal ammo 45ACP, 30 Cal, 7.62, 40SW…WTF

    Close range must use a sword, machette a bat

    We can NEVER have enough ammo in a Zombie Apocalypse

    20000 rounds 5.56
    10000 rounds 22L
    1000 9ml
    Katana Sword/Machette
    KA BAR USMC Knife

    32 inch M4 Profile Windham
    2 Ruger's 22 Mark 3
    Glock17/19 or Berretta 92Fs

    Just Ask Sarh Connor's or Alice

    • Shane

      You realize even with decay bone, skulls, will retain strength for years after death?

  • guest

    if you've seen a .22lr ballistics test against a ballistics gel torso with skull, you'll know that a .22lr will go into the skull and ricochet inside the skull doing as much damage as a .45acp. with that being said,my calibers are,
    walther p22 .22lr (sidearm) 5000 rounds
    S&W M&P sport AR15 .223 (primary) 1200 rounds

  • Jamie Spaulding

    I agree. I would have something bigger for looters and piliagers but my choice for Zed would be my suppressed 10/22 with a back pack full of Ruger Hi -Cap mags. We all know even a .45 can glance off a skull but any bullet, even a .22LR in the soft tissue of the eye socket or auditory canal gets to primal brain every time (or bone fragments do). I only have one gun I can do that with quickly everytime out to 60yds. And all these guys pooh-poohing the .22 wouldn't dream of dissing a load of number 4 buck at close range. Thats what a hi-cap mag full of .22s is. You just get 'em a tenth of a second apart instead of all at once.

  • hicusdicus

    From the looks of all the comments the zombie Apocalypse has already started, right here on this forum. The best caliber is a .50 slug of ex lax shot right into their mouth followed up with a honey wagon.

  • Mototech

    So what .22 ammo would you all recommend for this sort of endeavor?

  • AR15

    Someone take a 223/556 round to the chest and head at 50FT away and tell me how it feels when it hits.

  • Kody

    Well I am a big guy so recoil is not a big issue (Ive sho thousands of rounds out of my 454 casull) so my order would go something like this
    1- 223 ar-15 high capacity mag
    2- 308 ar-15 30 round mag
    3- 9mm glock very high capacity
    4- 44magnum 8 shot revolver
    5- 12 gauge 00buckshot
    6- 300 winmag remington scendaro
    7-10/22 2 30 round clips
    8- 22 luger pistol

    And and a machete and bowie knife for when things get hairy

    • impressed

      thousands of rounds out of your 454? Are you a millionaire?

  • buster

    well, 223 or/and 308-gotta be an auto loader. Agree. 9mm,disagree…38 super. More power, flatter shooting. I want em to drop where shot, so 45-70 gotta be in there. lever action. To defend the home(or cave)front 30-06, bolt action. goo out to 1000 yrds til the 308 started whooping it in competition.

  • jmborge

    The firearm that shoots the round is as important as the round.
    1) AR15 (5.56/223) – Excellent all around man & predator stopper.
    2) Benelli M4 (12 gauge) – Close range control.
    3) Glock 19 – Perfect size for conceal and duty. Check out the Hornady Critical Duty Plus P.
    4) Ruger 10-22 – The 22 LR is a great all around survival round. Check out the CCI Velocitor or Winchester Hyper.
    5) SCAR 17S – The 308 is a great all around hunting & Go to round.
    6) S&W 686 or Ruger SP101 – The 357 and 38 rounds are common and substantial.
    7) Ruger SR22 – Great pistol, in a great cartridge. This pistol will shoot anything.
    8) Keltec PMR30 – Very interesting and could be used for many applications. The 22 Magnum is very versatile.

    *Stay US NATO!

  • Robert Keith Ando

    Duh! 7.62×39 in an AK-47 configuration if you're in it for the long haul.
    #2 .45 acp in pistol ,carbine, or Thompson select fire. then
    #3 the 5.56 poodle shooter #4 .308 in something. #5 38 spl/.357 for the family #6 M-1 AND 1903A3 in .30/06. Any and all others get in line. Honorable mentions : MP-10 in 10mm, FN-90, 12 ga./20 ga. shotguns in semiautomatic.
    This assumes that you have been stockpiling ammo for one or two choices for a couple of years. Overpenetration should not be a factor, as the horde will will coming from mostly one direction initially.

  • Robert Keith Ando

    #1 consideration is an accurate medium powered cartridge and plenty of it !!! Volumes speak volumes !

  • Ing

    Yes! Finally somebody gives the 30-30 some of its deserved respect.

    As far as rifle cartridges go it's on the mild end, but a *big* step up from the wimpy .233/5.57, and with the rapid expansion of its flat-nosed lead core bullets, it hits hard at short to medium range, and can reach out to 300 yards given good optics and some practice. Although why you'd need to worry about a zombie that far away, I can't fathom; 50 yards and in is where your life will be saved or lost, and that's where this cartridge shines.

    As for the limitations of the lever-action rifles that fire it, I believe they're overplayed. A levergun can make follow-up shots faster than any bolt action; tends to be light, compact, well balanced, and easy to point; and given an adequate sighting system, is just as accurate in all ways that matter. Improving your 200yd groups by 1 inch on paper from a benchrest won't matter in the zombie apocalypse, but headshots will, and a 30-30 is definitely up to the task. Plus which, the loading gate in Marlin and Winchester style rifles lets you top off the magazine on the fly. No mag changes or arduous reloads. Pop one, load one, and just keep on going.

    It's slower than a semiauto, sure; but consider what kind of semiauto you're likely to be able to get your hands on. Mind you, I wouldn't turn down a really good AR, but they're way too expensive now, and in the apocalypse they might be even harder to come by. If you can afford any gun at all, you can probably afford a 30-30. And they're still viable hunting and self-defense weapons more than 100 yrs after their invention, which says a lot. Would you rather have one of the millions of civilian AR's of dubious quality, or one of the millions of lever-action 30-30's that just work?

    Bottom line in any apocalyptic scenario: millions of lever-action rifles are in circulation, the majority in 30-30; they're reliable, accurate, durable, repairable, and powerful; and any store that carries any ammo at all will have some in 30-30.

    Yeesh. Didn't mean to write an essay…get me going about my favorite gun, and that's what happens.

  • Stands by his Horse

    My list:
    M14S in 308 Winchester, AR15 heavy barrel in 223, AK47 in 7.62×39, and my trusty Winchester lever saddle rifle in 44 Magnum.
    Ruger Vaquer in 44 Mag to match the Winchester, my Smith and Wesson model 34 in 22 long rifle, My Officer's ACP in 45 ACP, and my Daewoo DP51 in 9mm, which incidentally can use the plentiful S&W 59 series magazines.
    As backup items, a good 22 rifle or 2, about 10,000 rounds of 22 ammo, and a couple of dependable 22 wheelguns for practice and training youngsters. Gotta have at least 1000 rounds of 308 and 223 and 2000 or so of the 7.62×39 ammo for my AK and my SKS Russian.
    Lotsa food and water, and medical supplies are also essential!

  • lennie

    i like to blow heads off things, so i can't wait for zombies

  • TZH

    #1 .22LR
    #2. 9mm
    #3 .223

  • Dave

    As usual everyone thinks they are an expert
    22lr = target shooing or small game cartridge
    It does not have enough stopping power to assure that an opponent doesn't return fire.
    thus is not even remotely adequate.
    other vastly over rated calibers are .223 and 7.62×39 in steel or FMJ nato issue they are not recommended due to
    low knock down power
    buy premium hunting grade ammo if you want stopping power, especially 150-220 grain with lead tips.
    .22 great for survival but as useless as tits on a bull for defense in all guns ,especially in semi auto guns.
    prone to misfire ,jamming,and barely better than a pellet gun.

    long range 7mm rem mag, .308
    12ga. close up
    ar ak usless as tits on a bull

    • pkm9mm

      eh… not so sure about all that… If we were talking your "run of the mill end of the world scenario" where everybody shoots back, you would be spot on. And Im not so sure I would want to rely on a .22 for everything either, BUT… when it comes to zombies, knock down power and stopping power are meaningless… A small supply of .308 would be great to have for the living targets but if all you carried was 12 ga. and .308 and had to go on the move, you would only be able to carry enough to last a couple days.

    • william

      22 mag man

  • ReasonPrevails

    Why does everyone believe that after SHTF that .223 will be readily available? Think about it, everyone with an AR will be after the 250 boxes of .223 on the shelf of the local gun shop, so after the first three people loot the place, it will be all gone – better get there fast. And don't count on the National Guard to hand it out like candy at a parade either. The way I figure, that one dusty old box of 30-40 Krag (or 38-40 WCF or 8mm Nambu) is likely to still be there in the corner of the gun shop when you really need it – two months into the apocalypse, as no one else will be after it. Just one argument for oddball calibers.

    • william

      stock pile your rounds before the zombies come

  • pkm9mm

    My pick is 9mm… For everything.

    For zombies there is no need for anything bigger. These guys talking about huge calibers are missing the point… your just packing around extra weight and energy… Not to mention they make so much noise you attract every zombie for miles around.

    A 9mm can feed my Beretta Storm Carbine and Beretta side arm and use the same 20rnd magazines… This is a great feature to have when your primary weapon jams, your backup can still use all your loaded mags in easy reach. It will also work in my sig 226 and KelTec Sub 2000 that also use interchangeable magazines… Heck, it will even feed my Kahr PM9 for my suicide gun…

    Nice thing is you only need one caliber to stock up on and it will take care of any Zombie out to 150 yards… anything further is not a threat. Its also big enough to deal with the looters and murderers. A silenced 9mm can handle the delicate work and it does enough damage that you can afford to be a little off center with your quick head shots and still drop em.

    I can also easily carry 1500 to 2000 rounds in a pack if I need to move on foot. Try doing that with 12ga. or .308… heck even .223 takes up twice the space.

    "Quantity has a quality all its own." -Joseph Stalin

    • herpderp

      Actually, 9mm makes more noise than domething like a .45. It is a supersonic caliber and therefore makes a loud crack, or sonic boom. .45, being subsonic, is quieter. While 9mm is by many points more practical, larger calibers arw useful against living humans. Zombie apocalypse or not .

      • calebcrotch

        All rounds you purchase are supersonic unless you purchase a subsonic round.

  • Andy

    Think about having to carry a large load for a long distance. You don't just have ammo, you have food, water, and other survival stuff to make your pack a considerable amount of weight. Then you have to carry a rifle and a pistol. Ideally, that breakdown 10/22 would be great in my pack with a butt load of ammo for it. OR a sawed off 12 gauge with enough ammo (shotguns can also be great breaching tools) Then an ak with at least 14 full mags most in my pack, and a Glock 9mm. Then have a blade that can use as a tool and a deadly weapon. Its all about self sustainment and mobility Catch my drift? So get outta here with your big ass caliber sniper rifle fantasies.

  • william

    I agree I love 270 and 308 for hunting but the best hunting round for zombies is 22 mags! You can get a nice marlin 22 mag and a 22 mag pistol with a lot of clips cheap light weight and still packs a punch. I would also get a 22 rifle and an ak47 with 7.62×39. So my list would be:

    1. 22 lmr (with a marlin rifle and a 22 mag pistol)
    2. 7.62×39 (ak47)
    3. 22 lr (savage rifle)
    3. 223 (m16)
    4. 270 (i have a 300 acre farm fenced all the way around, so i can pop them a long ways away)

    • william

      I forgot 12 guage sawed off

  • Guest

    Weird instances have happened with even more powerful calibers. Call it the Jesus quotient then just pull the trigger again.

    22LR for me all day long. Screw that Walking Dead ammo scrounge, I'll hit a department store/gun store/somebody's house to replenish. Those rifles/rounds are everywhere.

    • Jake Bertz

      Scrounge? For like $500 you could stockpile enough ammo to take out a small city.

  • Jonathan Dowe

    Interesting inputs from everyone. IMO, I would not count on anything less then a .22 WMR or .17 HMR caliber for defensive use. The fact about these “Zombie Hordes” (Supremacists, Established Gangs – Foreign and Domestic, Jail/Prison Breakers & common thugs) that WILL be roaming around pillaging, raping & murdering are loaded for annihilation. When they are raining down large caliber bullets at you, a snap cap of a .22 (Short/LR) is NOT going to keep them at bay.

    Imagine a scenario with a shielded zombie (metal door/1-inch plywood or anything that will barely be scratched by a .22) practically WALKING right up to your door. Tell me you wont wish you had something bigger. When they hear the crack of a tiny .22 coming from a defensive position, they will just send expendable zombies blasting your way to the point of becoming overrun, you might as well do yourselves in because the captured scenario for you and your loved ones is going to be a nightmare. How precious is your life and the life of the ones you MUST protect? Go BIG or go DEAD.

  • Rafael Florida

    22LR rilfe like the rem 597 with a 357mag or 9mm for me. I shooting size box of ammo at walmart is 555rd for 20$. you can always find 22LR,9mm, 38 or 357mag somewhere and it’s easy to find/make a suppressor for a 22LR . I always pack light and i have a Tactical Wakizashi to take some heads.

  • Stan Bundy

    While this is of course all in humor, a lot of gamers have thought it out past the initial survival point, as a matter of recreation.

    I would have left .270 & .44 off the list just from their relative scarcity. In a ZA scenario (and quite a few non-supernatural “everything-went-to-hell” events) you probably would have to move around a bit on foot or bicycle before establishing a sanctuary (or reaching your pre-established safe zone) so carrying a reloader set with you is not realistic (something you might go back home for as the threat level drops, with an armed team). The other types are so common you can scrounge them from ruined/abandoned homes (businesses and armories would either be looted or already occupied) or trade for them with other survivors (if not get paid partially in ammo). As for .38, it would be a matter of owning a .357 and using .38, saving the good stuff for special occasions. So, from a scrounging standpoint, .30-06 and .40 S&W would probably be easier to locate (and procure more guns), as well as a shotgun for close quarters (if a disease-type ZA, you’re going to have a lot of the zombies still in the “abandoned” homes you want to scrounge from).


    I’m thinking wholesale carnage with a semi auto assault shotgun maybe belt fed with a specially designed backpack filled to max capacity (or however much can be easily Handled by the Guy carrying it) full on Zombiecidal CHAOS !

  • Lee Dye

    Coming from a 5.56/45 owner, I would first say a 7.62/45 would be the best for zombie combat for obvious reasons. A .45 due to it’s stopping power as one would use it in close combat and cannot afford one of them to take an extra step closer-must avoid the teeth! Secondly, a bolt action is not the weapon of choice in any zombie situation. Period! Hypothetically of course, depending on which Hollywood depiction you run with.

  • Dumb list

    This list sucks. No 5.45×39 or 7.62×39? And a 9mm is far from weak.

  • Rick

    I’d replace .270 with 7.62 x 39 as it’s extremely cheap and very powerful for its size. I’d also replace .38 Special with .40 S&W and replace .44 magnum with .357 magnum.


    Again your an idiot you should have shotgun shells on here all day.

  • 56goodbadugly45

    I am a post-apocalyptic survivalist who has held off several attacks by zombies so far with a homemade bow and homemade arrows.

  • mrsixxx

    Most common rounds in usa/nato:
    5.56/.223,306,.308, 7.63×39, and .22LR
    Shotgun is 12gauge. Then 20gauge.
    Now .38special/.357magnum is still bought too.
    For shtf/walking dead slow zombie/ super fast zombies like 28days later u not only need firearms that support the common bullet calibers above but stopping power as well.
    U think it would take one shot of a 22LR to head to stop a walker?try at least 2 to 6 average!!!

  • mrsixxx

    That said stock up on at least 8 30round magazines for every weapon you have.
    Glock has a 9mm to convert to .40 glock 17 conversion kit.this combo tops my list.
    For .45 anything.i chose glock21sf so i have a free hand.

    Rifle: either ar15 in 5.56 or ak47 in 7.62×39
    Id prefer .308 but weight issue.
    For small game hunting ruger 10-22.
    Easy to make a silencer for it and accurate as hell up to 150′

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