Tuesday, November 15, 2011

3 Firearms 4 Life, Part IV: Zombocalypse Now!

File Under: With Both Barrels

Life at the End of the World

We have come to everyone's favorite topic: the Zombie Apocalypse. This is the ultimate SHTF scenario and probably has caused WROL the likes of which humankind has never before seen. All your intensive video game training and internet forum arguing has culminated in sweet, undead vindication. Now that it has actually happened, all your friends and family have flocked to your hardened, subterranean zombie-proof bunker and it is up to you to ensure everyone survives the onslaught of the zombie hordes. What will be your 3 armaments of choice? As always to determine this first we must analyze what we will encounter and what will be our long-term survival needs.

First off let us examine the 5 different types of zombies one might encounter during the Zombocalypse:

Type 1: Voodoo Zombies
  • Zombification occurs through psycho-chemical means using herbs, poison, hypnosis, and brainwashing
  • Usually pristine condition
  • Retain full upper brain function but unable to articulate or express will
  • May be defeated by normal means
  • Can be rehabilitated
  • Will not cross bodies of water
Type 2: Traditional Zombies – Slow Movers
  • Zombification occurs through a non-scientifically apparent process but can be transmitted from infected to non-infected through a bite
  • Reanimated zombies will be necrotic/decrepit and living infected will decay over time
  • No upper brain function
  • These zombies may be under the direct control of a master entity, thus they can be stopped by destruction of the brain stem or the controller and complete consumption by fire
  • These zombies will not cross bodies of water
Type 3a: Viral Zombies – Fast Movers
  • Zombification occurs through a virus or retrovirus that mutates the physiology of the host to make it faster, stronger, more enduring, and resistant to stoppage, even beyond a normal “death.”
  • The contagion can affect living or deceased hosts with an intact central nervous system
    • Condition of infected/reanimated with range from necrotic/decrepit to pristine
  • Limited upper brain function possible:
    • No psychological response to damage or pain
  • Unaffected by suffocation or blood-loss
  • The body will endure for a long time and if the central nervous system remains intact, will recover
  • Can be stopped by destruction of the brain stem only.
  • Contagion may be airborne or transmitted through contact with bodily fluids of infected host
  • Contagion can cross species or mutate
  • Immunobodies, vaccines, and anti-viral agents may exist
  • The infected/reanimated can traverse water
Type 3b: Viral Zombies – Ragers / Crazies
  • Zombification occurs through a virus, retrovirus, or other biochemical agent that affects the psychochemical, nerve, cardiopulmonary, and/or endocrine system of the host, which primarily strips the live human host of its mental and emotional “weaknesses,” in an effort to make the host more resistant to stoppage.
  • The virus only works on living human hosts
  • May retain full upper brain function with:
    • Increased aggression
    • Reduced fear/inhibition
    • Reduced psychological response to damage or pain
  • The corpse decays at a normal rate and the infected can be killed by any traditional means
  • Contagion may transmit through contact with bodily fluids of infected host or contaminated food/water
  • Contagion does not cross species or mutate
  • Immunobodies are non-existent although counteragents may be available
  • The infected can traverse water
Type 4: Parasite/Puppet Zombies
  • Zombification occurs when an organic or cybernetic parasite (sometimes symbiont) takes over (and frequently destroys) the central nervous system and bodily functions of an organic host. An organic entity will need a living host to possess while the cybernetic zombie could be dead when infested, as it only requires an intact not necessarily living host.
  • Infestation requires direct, probably prolonged and invasive, physical contact
  • Infected will present a wide range of abilities
  • The consciousness of the parasite takes over the host
  • The human host cannot be recovered or rehabilitated and will die or return to a post-morbid state should the parasite be driven from the host
  • The parasite may have a psychological reaction to damage and pain
  • Though the host can be stopped by traditional means, the parasite may be able to regenerate the corpse
  • Parasites must be annihilated, and following destruction of the brain stem, corpses must be quickly consumed by fire
  • A master controller or sire may exist, which upon its destruction, could cause the death or deactivation of all parasites connected to it
  • These zombies can traverse water
Type 5: Sheep Zombies
  • Zombification occurs through indoctrination and complacency
  • Contagion can spread through word-of-mouth, example, and close association
  • The zombies retain all of their higher brain function but choose not to use it
  • These zombies prefer co-dependency and reaction over independence and acting proactively
  • Most likely these zombies are controlled by a master entity (government, media, etc.) and will collapse without the directions of that institution or entity
  • Symptoms of infection: a belief in the system, denial a catastrophic event will occur, a lack of personal responsibility, a lack of preparation
  • The infected are easily defeated by situations that inspire others to persevere
  • You can lead these zombies to water but they won't drink, won't cross, and won't learn to fish
  • The infected will lie, cheat, steal, and/or kill when they begin to suffer the ill-effects of their lack of preparation
  • Contagion is highly virulent though infected can be rehabilitated
  • Known vaccines and anti-virals include: free thought, self-reliance, logic, hard work, planning, and follow-through
So type 5 is not a true “zombie;” however, are real world “zombie” zombies even possible? To answer this question, ask yourself have we ever seen evidence of zombie-like behavior: an ultra aggressive, strong, fast enemy who is persistent, cannot be reasoned with, and does not seem to be effected (physically or psychologically) by normal types of lethal force? The answer is yes, we have seen these individuals before:
  • Fortified (both chemically and psychologically) Filipino warriors encountered by US forces during the Philippine-American War necessitated the research, development, and adoption of the .45 ACP and the M1911 semi-automatic pistol because the sidearm used in that conflict, a .38 caliber revolver, would not adequately incapacitate and stop them quickly.
  • In 1986, two bank robbers resisted arrest in an epic 5-minute battle that left both perpetrators and 2 FBI agents dead. The two criminals received a combined total of 18 gunshot wounds to the head, neck, upper torso, and limbs. They were unarmored and toxicology reports show that they were fueled by nothing but their own malice, discontent, and a strong desire not to go to prison.
  • In 1997, hardened by a combination of phenobarbital and body armor, two criminals in North Hollywood California engaged in a shootout with police that lasted forty-five minutes. Some 650 rounds were fire at the 2 criminals with at least 10 penetrating (each shooter) before the conflict ended.
We see it is possible through indoctrination, determination, and adrenaline alone humans can be made to withstand massive damage before suffering a debilitating injury or succumbing to their wounds. Anyone with access to basic materials and an ability to sew can create rudimentary armor effective enough to give -them- the second chance to do you harm. Add chemicals, even garden variety street drugs, which can calm the nerves, numb the sensation of pain, and disconnect the individual from his or her body and you may completely negate any of the psychological factors to wounding and incapacitation. Is there a method to give a normal human super stamina, strength, speed, and aggression? Yes, and while performance enhancing drugs won't turn an individual into a super human, if they did not give you an edge over non-users they would not be restricted and no one would use them. The straw that could break the camels back would be an easily transmittable biochemical contagion, which can cause the hostility, dementia, paranoia, and psychosis of some of the viruses and/or drugs we are used to without causing degeneration to central nervous and musculoskeletal system. The effect would be ravenously violent individuals, who retain gross and fine motor control. This is all wonderful science-fiction, yet keep in mind that at one time flying ships, walking on the moon, talking to someone on the opposite side of the planet, beams of light that cut metal, and living beyond the age of forty were also all science-fiction; we have even turned lead into gold, a pursuit that at one point in time could get you excommunicated and possibly assassinated. While not all things are plausible or probable, given enough time all things are possible.

Dealing with Zombie types 1-4 in a SHTF environment will be terrible enough. Throw in the Sheep Zombies, opportunistic criminals, or your garden variety mentally-deranged violent offenders and your end-of-the-world party quickly becomes major lame. We do not know why, but all zombies with the exception of the Sheep do not eat their own, yet a need to feed seems to be present in them all. Some zombies have been observed eating animals, however, their primary preferred food is human – particularly the brains. Just as you don't want to setup camp where bears feed, so it is also for zombie defense. Your number one goal will be avoiding people and places people will congregate. That means metropolitan areas, preferred “escape” locations, and any so-called “camps.” In a city or any densely populated area, it is hard to avoid people and quite easy to get cornered. If the contagion is not an airborne viral variety, you may be able to hunker down and hold out for some external force to get things back under control. However, if the outbreak is not contained quickly and it is a case of a reanimated dead then the outbreak may potentially never be contained. Your stockpiles in the city will eventually dry up, there will be no barter/trade system to get new supplies, and scavenging in the city will become increasingly dangerous as the outbreak grows. This is a bug-out must situation and if you are not already in a remote, isolated area you will have a long trek through a vast unknown wasteland ahead of you.

You cannot possibly carry all the firepower you will need, to deal with the numbers of zombies you might encounter. Luckily for you, zombies do not have the best senses over long distances. The more necrotic/decrepit and less intelligent types have even less sensory perception, even at close ranges. Fast Movers and Crazies, unfortunately, have as good or better senses as they did as regular humans. So movement, bright lights, smells, loud noises, and sources of heat can attract a tidal wave of Fast Runners if you are not careful. Everything must be done without making your presence known. At this time you want to be fast, silent, and agile, cutting a wide path around any place that might contain the infected. You have a considerable amount of terrain to cross and you must do so silently. Therefore, on top of simple, reliable, durable, and common, add light, silent, and maneuverable to the list of criteria for your 3 firearms. Your primary threat will be zombies, and while some are immune or highly resistant to the methods of traditional wounding, all can be stopped by destruction of the brain stem. Unfortunately, this means should you encounter a zombie you will need to place a bullet or other projectile within a tiny 2” circle on a (possibly fast) moving target; the situation becomes exponentially worse with each additional zombie. Cracking open a zombie melon is not a problem, hitting that target accurately and silently will be the kicker.

When it comes to simplicity, reliability, durability, commonness, and accuracy one platform immediately comes to mind. A singular firearm with over 100 years of putting in work and putting down bad guys. It was the answer to Filipino zombies then, societal zombies now, and brain-eating zombies tomorrow. I am speaking of course about the 1911 design, chambered in its iconic .45 ACP cartridge. This system has proven itself in the hands of soldier and law enforcement officers for decades. The .45 ACP is capable of the prerequisite accuracy and due to its larger unexpanded diameter gives you a better chance of obliterating that tiny target if you are not dead on. Moreover, the .45 ACP is a subsonic round, meaning it is quiet in flight and can greatly lower your noise footprint when used with a quality sound suppressor. Ammunition, parts, and accessories are as common as Bibles and American Flags in the States, and it is a very easy system to learn to operate and maintain. A final benefit of the 1911 itself is the availability of relatively lightweight 9mm, .38 Super, .22 LR and 10mm drop-in conversion kits for some variants.  Using them you can make use of found ammunition and practice with plentiful, silent ammunition. John Moses Browning must have been clairvoyant, because he designed the perfect sidearm for putting down the zombie hordes. You have other choices, but I for my part am facing the end of the world with a true American classic.  And yes ...I will have 2 of them.

During the Zombocalypse, quiet is king and no centerfire or rimfire contender is as quiet and capable as the .22 Long Rifle, especially once you have equipped it with a good sound suppression device. Assuming there are critters to eat, the .22 LR will ensure you always have meat to eat and it will do so whisper quiet-like. Moreover, should you have a need to take out someone on 2 legs, this rifle can do so. Finally, should you need to hot-foot it out of where you are the .22 LR is not likely to break your back and should be easy to resupply with plenty of found ammunition. 'Nuff said.

Now if quiet is king during the Zombocalypse, then devastating firepower when you need to be less than quiet is queen. Situations will arise when the zombies are unavoidable, when they get the drop on you, and when you are facing many, many drooling brain-suckers. You need the ability to dispatch a large number of aggressors, all the while still putting rounds on a tiny moving target. Every round has to count and you need a lot of them – you don't want to be overrun while you are reloading. You could try your luck with a rifle if that is all you have, but that is not what I am going to want to have with me in close quarters, adrenaline-pumping, high-intensity combat. I want something maneuverable that will put out a lot of lead and maximize the probability of hitting my target. I'm pretty sure you can smell what I'm cooking. If zombies can experience fear at all, they will come to fear the sound of my 12 gauge pump-action shotgun.
  • A full-sized 1911 style semi-automatic pistol chambered in .45 ACP
Para USA 14-45 Long Slide Limited
Chamber: .45 ACP
6.0” barrel
14 round capacity
stainless steel slide / stainless steel frame
41 ounces
adjustable rear sight, fiber optic front sight
Retail: 1,084.00 USD
Alternatives: STI 2011 Eagle 6.0, Springfield Armory Loaded Long slide, Olympic Arms Matchmaster 6, Taurus PT 1911, Ruger SR1911, Sig Sauer, Dan Wesson, Ed Brown, Wilson Combat
  • A lightweight rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle
Ruger 10/22 Carbine
Chamber: .22 LR
18-½” barrel
5, 10, or 25 round magazine
synthetic stock / stainless steel barrel
5.00 pounds
adjustable rear sight, hammer-forge barrel, scope base adapter
Retail: 227 – 234.00 USD
Alternatives: Savage Arms Mark II FSS 24700. Marlin 795SS
  • A smoothbore 12 gauge pump-action shotgun with a 18-20” barrel.
Kel-Tec KSG
Chamber: 12 gauge 3”
18.5” barrel
(2) 6-round magazine tubes
alloy / synthetic polymer
6.9 / 8.5 pounds empty / loaded
bull-pup, downward ejection, picatinny rails
Retail: 575 – 799.99 USD
Alternatives: Remington 870, Mossberg 500/590/835, Maverick 88, Ithaca Model 37 . H&R Pardner Pump Protector, Savage Arms Stevens Model 320/350

There you have it, 3 Firearms 4 Life in the Zombocalypse. You won't be winning any impromptu long-range shooting contests, but you will be lightweight, highly mobile, silent, and equipped with some devastating close-range firepower when it is time to get down with the sickness. Hunting will not be the easiest proposition, but you will not starve if you have to bring home dinner with a firearm. Safety, security, and food – what more could you ask out of 3 Firearms?

3 Firearms 4 Life, Part V: Building Your Battery of Arms

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV Part V | Part VI | Part VII

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