Zombie Prep 101

posted on August 25, 2015
Some are claiming this zombie apocalypse thing is the extinction event for the human race. They say we are all going to die.

I am not sure I buy that, but I’ll tell you one thing: if they ever get me, they will be wading through a lot of empty cartridge cases to do it. You need to choose your guns carefully, though, because it’s the equipment we carry that will make the difference as to who among us is oblivion-bound.

It’s not the single events we need to worry much about—things like the newly infected undead coming over for lunch with your brain on the menu. For those simple problems, I prefer a shotgun. A good semi-automatic, like my Benelli M2 with a Nordic Components extended magazine, is perfect for settling a visit from a handful of zombies. It’s safer to use around the house, because it doesn’t penetrate walls like a rifle or pistol when using turkey loads with No. 4 shot, which will certainly get the job done.

But, that’s the easy stuff. It’s when the hordes show up that you need to be packing the right kind of armament. Zombies are herd animals, and when a couple hundred show up at your door, you have a problem. We know from movies attempts to reason with them will not work. The only way to deal with zombies is via central-nervous-system hits, and the only way to take out a lot of them in a hurry is with the right firearms. Nothing else is as effective, and if you can’t shoot your way out of the situation, you will be joining them quickly.

The key is to have guns that run without problems, even when they are smoking hot—ones capable of holding enough ammo in the magazine and able to be reloaded quickly. They have to shoot fast, because when there are a dozen worm-eyed zombies in your living room and more coming through the door, you need speed.

Only head shots count, and not every shot will be close, so the guns must be accurate. Zombies are nothing more than rotting flesh, so they are not a tough target. You don’t need a cartridge big enough to hunt elk. The idea is to fit a lot of cartridges in a magazine. Little mouse-gun rounds like .22 LR or .25 ACP are not a good idea, however—even with a hit that’s not perfect, you still want to the ability to smash the brain pan like Gallagher’s watermelon to be sure of stopping them. Remember, although body shots won’t end the zombie threat, a cartridge powerful enough to break bones will slow them down. Take out both knees, and the head will hold still.

It’s all a no-brainer for me (pun intended). By far the best rifle choice is an AR-15. The .223 Rem. cartridge is just about perfect for dealing with the undead—if you use a good varmint-style bullet like the 55-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip. I like this bullet because it has a higher ballistic coefficient, so it can also reach out for first-round hits as far as 600 yards.

I prefer the Swarovski Z6i 1-6x24 mm scope with the BRT illuminated ballistic reticle. It was the best optic made for 3-gun competition before the hordes descended. I keep it on 1X for close-range work and keep both eyes open. That lets me keep track of what’s happening and set up for the transition to the next shot. If there is time, I turn on the orange dot, which makes fast-and-furious situations easier to handle. The key is to keep it smooth and never panic. Remember: Smooth is fast, and fast keeps you alive.

Sometimes we have advance warning of impending zombie attacks, and I can start whittling down the numbers when they are still approaching. I know my holds with the ballistic reticle all the way out to 700 yards, because I have taken time to shoot and record the results.

Standard magazines for an AR-15 can hold enough ammo and can be changed in about a second with a little practice. It takes an accurate rifle to make a head shot on a zombie at 300 yards, but the right AR can do it with ease. On the other end of the survival spectrum, it’s a perfect gun for fast, multiple-target engagements. If you set it up right, an AR-15 is the ultimate defense against zombies.

There are a lot of good AR-15 rifles on the market, but to my thinking none are better than those from JP Enterprises. Actually, I use the same JP rifle for shooting zombies that I used to compete in 3-gun matches before the world ended. The requirements are pretty much the same, except now the stakes are significantly higher.

My JP-15 rifle has an 18-inch, match-grade barrel, and with a crisp 3-pound trigger, it will put five shots in a .5-inch group at 100 yards. It maintains that accuracy even when hot. The compensator at the muzzle controls recoil and facilitates fast transitions from zombie to zombie. Most important of all, it never jams. Clearing a double-feed during a 3-gun match costs time. Clearing it during a zombie attack gets you eaten.

I have a SureFire 100-round magazine in the gun, backed by another of the company’s 60-round magazines at the ready. If I burn through those two, my Blackhawk vest has six more 30-round magazines within easy reach. When we are expecting a big party of zombies, I keep another dozen or more 30-round mags in various pockets and belt pouches. Extra ammo does not guarantee I’ll live, but running out guarantees I won’t.

I believe in redundancy and in not trusting even the most-reliable systems, so I always carry at least one pistol. I am a big fan of the .45 ACP, but like I said, zombies are not tough, so I use a 9 mm for the increased capacity such handguns offer.

Guns like the Smith & Wesson M&P or a Glock are very good choices, but I am a bit of a trigger snob. I prefer the light touch of a single-action trigger rather than the longer, stiffer pull of a striker-fired handgun. I find it makes shots a bit easier, particularly at longer range. A head shot on a lumbering zombie at 30-yards requires a higher degree of trigger control. I really like the SIG Sauer P226 X5 series with its light and smooth single-action trigger that helps me to shoot with precision.

I shot 3-gun with the P226 X5 Competition model which features adjustable sights. It’s a little heavy for every day, all-day carry, so I switched to the X5 Tactical model, which is about 11 ounces lighter. It comes with 15-round magazines, but can be used with 19-round P226 mags. I keep lots of loaded magazines ready for fast reloads—four are in my Blackhawk vest and another four reside on my belt, plus half a dozen more in various pockets.

I have tried just about every type of 9 mm ammo on the zombies. If nothing else, this apocalypse has provided a target-rich testing ground for bullets. What seems to work best for me is the Speer 124-grain Gold Dot +P. Put one of them in the central-nervous system, and the problem is solved.

I really believe extinction will occur soon, and if I have any say in the matter, it’s not going to be the humans. One thing I know for sure is in the end, it will be the last human standing— not the last zombie. After all, they bring teeth to a gunfight.


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