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Zombie Nation Tips & Tactics

You Missed the Point: Picking the Perfect Zombie Gun

by Patrick Sweeney   |  February 8th, 2012 30
Dawn of the Dead

As seen in 2004's Dawn of the Dead, that Remington 870 might not be perfect for other members of your survival party.

In the first post on what guns to pick, there were some who made flippant comments such as “You should already have your guns picked out.”

Yes, you should. But then what? If you really are prepared, you know more than just the “perfect” guns you’ve selected for yourself. And “getting two blocks to the police station” to see what you can pick up, c’mon. None of you ever leaves your house?

There you are, on a business trip, and the plague hits. Your arsenal of perfect guns is at home, with the wife and kids. What do you do? Quit? No, you get out and find a weapon.

Great, the first rifle you come across is a Ruger Min14, with empty 20 round magazine in place. The 21st zombie to get to its previous owner is what caused it to be dropped into the mud. If you don’t know how to strip, clean, lube, reassemble and load it, it is just a clumsy club.

Your perfect guns are perfect for you. Someone new, with useful skills, joins your group. You are 6’4”, and your hi-cap Para USA .45 fits you perfectly. She’s 5’2’, is a nurse practitioner (high survival value) and your Para is an anvil. Do you know how to use something else, in order to teach her to use it to survive, so she can take care of your kids when they get whooping cough?

If you are going to survive, it takes more than just a few skills, and some limited knowledge. You can’t know too much, you can’t be skilled in too many things. You don’t have to own them all, but the more you know how to use, their strengths and weaknesses, and what it takes to feed them, the better off you are.

That said, anyone out there favor the Makarov? You should — the Ruskis have exported a bazillion of them over here.

  • Minarchist_1776

    IIRC the Makarovs imported here came in two different calibers, 9x18mm and .380. 9x18mm could be hard to find, .380 is minimal for stopping power. However, I never heard any complaints with respect to their reliability. So if you've got to get a weapon for somebody who for whatever reason can't handle a heavier caliber/bigger weapon you could probably do worse.

    I agree that ideally one should be skilled enough with weaponry to be able to use anything they find. In practice that might be hard for a lot of people to implement simply given the vast amount of different types of weapons out there with different knobology and operating characteristics. My advice would be that at a minimum one should be able to differentiate between a single action revolver and a double action revolver and become familiar enough with them to use them. When it comes to semiautomatic pistols there are so many potential variations on the theme (all with at least slightly different knobology and quirks) that I couldn't even be able to list them all. Regardless, one should try to get familiar with standard single action semiautomatic pistols (1911, Hi-power) and traditional double action semiautomatic pistols. One should also get familiar with Glocks.

    As far as rifles and shotguns go one needs to be generally familiar with break actions, bolt actions, pump actions, and lever actions. Semi-automatic weaponry again can vary widely and wildly in terms of knobology and operating systems. For people here in America I would suggest simply getting familiar with the M1-Garand/M-14 variants, M-16 variants, and AK-47 variants.

    All of that may sound like a lot to the uninitiated, but it is merely scratching the surface of what's out there. Each weapon has its own individual quirks and there is no substitute for reading the owner's manual for it and spending time with it on the range. Even if for whatever reason you have to scrounge a weapon of unknown provenance and put it into action quickly, take time when practical to unload the thing, figure out the knobology, and ammo permitting get some range time with it, to check its zero if nothing else.

    • Sesquiculus

      In my experience with both an East German Makarov and a PA63, guns that fire 9 mm Makarov ammo also shoot .380.. Maybe not quite as accurately, but as reliably. That is, you can shoot .380 in a pinch.

      Similarly, .380 was the first kind of ammo to disappear in the great post-Obama election panic, But you could always get Makarov– the Eastern European manufacturers didn't have to compete with domestic manufactureres for (say) primers and there wasn't a shelf-clearing demand like for .380.

  • Mitch

    Fact of the matter is if you aren't using a common caliber, you wont be using a gun at all. rem 870 parts are everywhere, and even walmart carries 12g shells.

    If we get into effectiveness, a double action revolver is next on the need list. to go from hairpin accuracy to getting the rounds out of the barrel now is invaluable, except the problem of loading a cylinder rather than a clip comes to mind.

    To the best of my knowledge, every military man on earth owns an AR. Add enthusiasts, survivalists, and sportsmen, and new mags, parts and ammunition will be available.

    In order of priority, pump shotgun, double action revolver, AR.

    Though Id still choose a Ruger mini M14 if i had such a choice.

    • wreckinball ray

      moon clips and speed loades for the wheel gun make it faster and easier to reload but a semi auto pistol with soft leadhollow points bullets would be good to as long as they feed well

  • chucksmacker

    no matter the stoping power of you favorite big bore it isnt going to do you any good unless you can hit that ugly smelly mother in the head!!! practice with every firearm you can on head sized targets, in a perfect zombie world a silenced m-4 would be gold (who wants to draw a hordes attiontion with the thunder of a 44mag) and sence you cant find silencers or even weapons to except them just any place look up how to make makeshift silencers, and the 22lr not being the weapon of choice they are everywhare and you can still run fast with 1000 rounds on you, blast away and not draw attintion of the horde 4 blocks away, and who cant handle the recoil of a 22? its better than a sharp stick and a hit in the head with a 22lr is better than a hit to the chest with a 500 s&w mag!

    • ZedHead2012

      My hat off to you sir! Someone who finally gets that when fighting Zed, you have to remove the head or destroy the brain.
      The head is a small target in the first place, never mind if it is a moving/shuffling target. Could you take the a head shot past 100yrds with a AR from the off hand? Maybe. But your chances of hitting are that much lower. Why waste the ammo? Why risk attracting more Zed to your location for a maybe shot? And is Zed past 100yrds an immediate threat? Take the sure shot, in the head, put Zed down for good.
      As ChuckSmacker wisely notes a rifle in .22LR silenced is all you need. Recoil is not a issue, ammo available everywhere . . . UN-like the Makarov.
      We here at Zombie Hunter Team 1A (ZHT-1A) would never advocate using some foreign, obscure round like the Makarov. If we were to ever use any other ammo other than the .22LR for OTHER threats other than Zed, we follow the rule of three: Can the round I am considering be found in 1) Gun shop, 2) sporting goods store (local laws may restrict sales of some centerfire ammo), 3) Wally-World. And can the ammo under consideration be found in all those in size-able quantity? Ammo like the .22LR, 9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP, .38Special, 12gauge, .223Rem, 308Win.
      Another consideration is what do the local law enforcement carry? Or National Armory? They may need every able bodied American to help fight off Zed. While you are standing there, your little Russian gun in hand, while the LE is handing out boxes of .40S&W to true blooded Americans standing on the wall to fight off Zombie horde while protecting humanity. And you are out of the fight, in the back with the women and children, all because you took the ill-advice of some self-proclaimed zombie expert.
      No, the Makarov is a poor, poor suggestion indeed.

    • Ale Liu

      And the guy on the roof in "Dawn of the Dead" died because he´s lazy.
      He´s a gunstore owner and he can easly get a .22LR and shoot 1000 rounds per day cleaning the streets off the zoombies..

  • howaboutlesszombies

    Really Another f*%$# post on zombies. Why do you gun writers waste your time on these zombie posts. Once in a while it's fun but every other post. WTF I am going to stop buying this mag. Might as well buy a video game mag because I can learn more about guns.

    • Draeger

      once again they dont put zombie stuff in the magazine, just online, which is free. no one said you had to read all the articles. Why don't you do read another article on the AR or something


    Zombies = terrorists/criminals/bad guys when law & order breaks down. Since they aren't real it doesn't seem as "survivalist crazy".

    "Zombie Apocalypse" = Sarajevo/Mogadishu/Sudan/Yemen/Syria/Libya/Grenada/El Salvadore/Columbia/Egypt/Iraq/Afghanistan/Guatemala/Uganda/Cambodia, etc, etc, etc. Think it will never happen here? Let's pray not and prepare just in case.

    "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." ~ George Mason, Co-author of the 2nd Amendment

    • Heretic

      Zombies are real. I see them every day. Watching american idol and soap operas. Walking around with cell phones duct-taped to their skulls. If you look, you'll see them too.

  • chucksmacker

    why evenread it then cryass? boo hooo im not buying your mag anymore.. its about more than zombies, any type of fallout or mass epedimic situation that ever breaks out it's always good to be prepared for. dont worry we will still drag your crying curled up in a ball ass out of the closet if it ever happens hand you whatever weapon we have available tell you to stop crying whip the snot off your face and cowboy the f#$k up!!!!

    • nomorezombies

      For the record the do put zombies in the magazine. And any way I'm 13 and still know how to capitalize.

      • Lewis

        You may know how to capitalize, but you are only 13. So, on issues like these you are after all ignorant!

  • Antonio

    "You can’t know too much" — good line, Mr. Sweeney. So I agree with some previous posts, we should get know a variety of firearms, especially the most common ones: AR and AK platforms, pump and semi-auto shotgun, bolt, lever and semi-auto rifle, revolver, and semi-auto pistol, and I'm going to throw knife, spear (pointed stick) and sling shot into the mix for those really bad days.

  • Ralphie

    Another zombie article . . . Sweeney's BMW payment must be coming up.

  • Mack Missiletoe

    The perfect Zombie gun is the one you enjoy the most and are also a decent shot at.

  • Dad

    I go with the easy to find, already proven and widly available – 9mm handgun.

    1- You do not need stopping power, you just need to blow out the zombie's head
    2- You need lots and lots of rounds available – Zombies always came in packs – and the 9mm Glocks or XDMs carry from 19 to 33 rounds
    3- Add a laser for a night shot
    4- Space – Have you seen Walking Dead ? Lots of action are in confined space where pistols rules

  • Grant

    enough with the zombies. I vote for a zombie-article quota…please do no more than one every two weeks or so, it gets so old. Or just dedicate an entire column to it, and put a "ZA (zombie apocalypse)" button on browsing bar.

    • Truesnix

      G&A needs to generate web ad revenue. So they get their best hack author to post some absurd question (Makarov? Really? Look like he tacked that on the end because he could not think up of anything better) or stir up controversy like AK vs AR.
      And it works.

  • ali

    Well sir i think every one shuold have a gun and learn and teach his family how to use it.i am from iraq i live in basrah after the war things turn to be so agly ..killng every where.every bad thing hapend her…it was wors than "Zombie Apocalypse" and if u dont have a gun and a lots of ammo then u r dead…i have 4pistols,1 MP5 with 1200 9mm bulets, 3 ak47 with3000 bulets ,2 daul barell shotguns.. the ak for me and my 2 brothers, pistols for my wife and for my sister and for my brothers wives,mp5 for my father…all that and i say more…i have already lost my mother and 2 small brothers in a terrorists atack at my huose 6 yers ago and will not let that hapend agine… so my advise to all of u that even if u fell safe u have to get a gun and stor it in safe place and u defenitly have to know how to survive…
    thank u all and god bless u.

  • 3_B


  • Dumb Grunt

    M-1 Carbine, light in weight and recoil, easy to shoot and care for. Very reliable. Accurate enough for head shots at 200m.

  • Jack

    Zombies are a PC standin for bad guys, like Nazis, nobody but nut jobs wants to be one. Anyhow, I love my Makarov, but I would never give one to a newbie. Let your thumb touch the takedown/safety while shooting and you may be holding a handful of parts.

  • Chris

    Men, just love your guns & family. Take care of both & they will take care of u. dont matter if we r talking Zombies, bad guys, or gang bangers.

  • Jeff

    I think the perfect combo would be a Marlin Camp 9 and a S&W model 59. A couple dozen magazines that fit either gun and you are good for easy head shots out to 50 yards. Camp 9 can be cut, crowned, threaded and suppressed, a short 2X scope for day and a red dot for night. Rifle is heavy enough to do some damage close up when you can't reload fast enough.

  • jamescolee

    i think the best combo would be a mossberg 590 and a 1911 45 auto altho i would not recomend this to a person who is not a avid shooter because 1 wrong move and you'll have a bunch of parts

  • DavidT

    Personally, I prefer my Olympic Arms OA93, which is the shortest and most reliable AR-15 type pistol on the market, supplanted with a couple of dozen PMag 30 round magazines and a laser sight. For longer range, I would choose either an AR-15 variant (so the same magazines could be used for both weapons) or a good .308 like the FN-FAL or the H&K-91 (or some other trustworthy brand). The bigger caliber would be useful for longer range shots. As far as a handgun is concerned, I would pick either a 9MM, a .40 S&W or a .45ACP. Also, can't forget a couple of rimfire guns (a pistop and a rifle) such as the Ruger MK2 and the 10/22 (each with plenty of spare magazines). Finally, to round it off, I would xhoose a good riot shotgun in 12 Ga. (preferably the Mossberg M590).

  • Troy Stiffler

    How does a M1 Garand stack up?

  • Joseph Cupp

    I own an Ak-47 for myself, My wife has a Mini-14, she prefers her .38 cal revoler over my 2 .45 cal 1911A1’s. got 2 .22 cal pistols,, Ruger Mark 2 and a Colt Frontier which is more accurate that the Ruger, just slower to reload, a Ruger 10/22 with a couple of 28 rnd mags. and for long range and ’03 in 30/06. I am waiting for my Saiga 20 ga to arrive. I figure that all the macho guys will grab all the 12 from the looted stores and will leave behind plenty of 20 for me. I am Airborne Infantry, I know how to carry a load, most of the posters here have liste way to many guns to carry efectively. Don’t forget you will also need food & water, steams,ponds & lakes may be polluted, as well as animals. I have double rigs for the .45 and my wife .22 and .38, a shoulder holster for my .22, My ak is has an underfolder stock and I have a molle shotgun case that it fits in nicely with a 10 rnd mag, plus the other 7 30 rnd mags I will have the ’03 in hand and the Saiga slung, my wife would have her mini 14 in hand and the 10/22 slung, extra ammo and food will be in my 1980’s Army issue large ruck and she will have a smaller commercial ruck with same In case we get separated. Guys don’t forget your knives, I have a Gerber BMF and my wife has a Walther dagger. I will also be carrying a skinning knife that I bought at the Pearl City flea market 30 years ago for $2.00, the steel is so hard you have to use a file to sharpen it, but it holds an edge longer than any other knife I’ve seen, For all you whiners keep in mind that zombies come in many guises.

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