The best (and worst!) weapons for survival in a Zombie Apocalypse

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The idea of apocalypse caused by hordes of undead is meanwhile very firmly entrenched in the minds of modern geek generations, primarily thanks to the numerous undead movies and series production, The Walking Dead series notably above anything else. However, these shows have some very hilarious ideas as to what weapons would be appropriate to use against the onslaught of the walking undead  – just as a side remark, the Z-word seems to have a very negative rep these days, but it is actually a running gag to get farther away from the term “Zombies” since it was, well, used to death – pardon my pun… In case you ever wondered what weapons would do best against undead, here is the ultimate list of the best (and worst!) weapons to use in the case of zombie apocalypse.

The premises to choose the best weapons for fighting the undead are as following:

  1. The weapons should have a long reach
  2. The weapons should be as silent as possible
  3. The weapons should require as little training to use as possible
  4. The weapons should require as little power to use as possible
  5. Mistakes when handling these weapons should have minimal consequences

10. Knife against undead (horrible choice)

Knives are designed for the short range fighting and require quite some skill, something that regular people hardly have. The general rule when fighting undead that can turn a victim to one of their own is to keep them at distance. Walking Dead has countless cases of brave heroes going after the (slow) walkers and stabbing them in the head with knives, sometimes something as ridiculous as pocket knives. Should our brave hero miss the brain, or should his/her knife get stuck in the walker’s skull, it would be a quick “game over” for them. Now imagine a foul undead shambling towards you, and you need to stick a swiss army knife in his worm-ridden skull before it starts nibbling on your neck… Nah, count me out!

Reach: very short
Silence factor: high
Skill required: high
Power required: high
Mistakes: high consequences
Verdict: I honestly have no idea why anyone would use these

9. Crossbow against undead (bad choice)

Now, before you freak out and point out how many walkers Daryl got with his trusty crossbow, let me state few facts about this weapon. First, even though it is very silent and has a very decent reach, it is nonetheless limited in its ammunition, has a fairly slow reload rate and its arrows, while having a great piercing effects are actually inadequate when it comes fighting the undead. Even if one would hit the undead directly into the head, one might entirely miss the brain, the most vital organ, and fail to score a kill. It is also worth mentioning that this weapon is not very useful in close combat and almost useless in buildings. While the skill required to master such a weapon in much lower than a skill required to use a bow, which at a specific point in medieval ages caused the crossbow to be actually forbidden for use by Vatican under the threat of excommunication ( crossbows meant that no knight, prince or king was safe on the battlefield, and mere peasants could be trained to use a crossbow and be quite deadly with it within days!), the crossbows would make for an excellent weapon against human opponents at distances up to three hundred meters – and we should not forget that often enough one would fight the human just as much as undead! – but perform much less valiantly against undead that, in the end, could be brought down only by a fatal wound to the head.

Reach: short to medium
Silence factor: high
Skill required: high
Power required: high
Mistakes: high consequences (slow reload time)
Verdict: Sorry, Daryl, but not really the ideal choice of weapon for the post-apocalyptic undead world

8. Flamethrower against undead (extremely bad choice)

I recall only few instances of flamethrowers in all the movies and series being used against undead, which in the end worked as a buff for them; the shambling walkers were not killed by fire, but were instead turned into walking torches aiming for victims that were probably out of their minds by the time this happened. Fire does not kill them quickly enough, and more often than not they end up as charred undead, adding the extra dread factor to their appearance.

Reach: medium
Silence factor: low
Skill required: medium
Power required: low
Mistakes: high consequences (well, instead of being devoured by undead walkers, you will be devoured by flaming undead walkers…)
Verdict: Dude, even Hollywood isn’t arming their casts with these…

7. Katana against undead (very good choice)

Michone from Walking Dead made the katana into one of the iconic show weapons in the fight against the undead, and it is definitely one of the best you could pick. It gives you an excellent reach, keeping you safe from their claws, enables to decapitate every walker in one or two swift moves.  Even though Katana is not the perfect choice of weapon for close quarter combat, such as narrow corridors in houses and buildings, it is very good for combat in open spaces. It is silent, extremely sharp and deadly, and enhance of a capable fighter it will decapitate undead and cut off their limbs very quickly. Katana is not suited for stabbing and should be used as a slashing weapon, not entirely as a middle-age saber but similar in concept, and it is perfectly suited to neutralize opponents in a matter of seconds. Additional benefit is the fact that it does not really need much strength, especially since the on that are somewhat “squishy” to begin with.

Reach: short
Silence factor: high
Skill required: medium
Power required: medium
Mistakes: medium consequences
Verdict: Highly effective in the right hands

6. Automatic weapons against undead (mediocre choice)

I am very much on the fence when it comes to guns in fights against the undead. Sure, they are probably the most fun of all weapons, give the greatest adrenaline boost and scream action like little else, but overall the firearms have serious setbacks, the primary being the fact that they are making a lot of noise. Also, it is not easy to hit the walkers in the head – if we exclude shotguns which are extremely useful since they tend to knock out targets even with non-lethal hits – so there is quite some skill required to be actually effective with firearms. Finally, we need to take into account that the firearms are not really feasible in the long run, since they tend to break down or run out of ammo, so unless you are capable of maintaining weapons and crafting your own bullets, you would be in a world of hurt sooner or later.

Speaking of which, if you want another survival experience, try out SCUM!

However, if we were to discount the issues with the maintenance and ammunition, I would say that an M4 carbine with silencer and proper optics would be one of the best choices for me personally… But if I wanted to face the end of the world (as we know it) with a proper automatic weapon, it would be an AK47. That thing was tested by being thrown in the dirt and ran over by a tank, and would still fire afterwards.

Reach: very short
Silence factor: very low
Skill required: medium to high (need to aim for the head)
Power required: medium
Mistakes: medium consequences (at least there is rapid fire mode, eh?)
Verdict: This is what you want to give to noobs in undead warfare

5. Axe against undead (dubious choice)

Axes are often displayed as the go-to weapons against walkers; you know, the manly hero is in dire straits, his woman cornered by the hordes of undead when he sees the red axe suspended on the wall. Alas, break the glass – it is, after all, a true emergency – and hack away.

The problem is that the axe requires both strength and precision on behalf the person who wields it, and acquiring both the skill and stamina to successfully use it takes time. It is a fairly safe bet that not everyone surviving the apocalypse has the feature of Viking raiders of Middle Ages. If anyone knew how to wield a large axe and split skulls, the it were the Norsemen. Keep an eye out for one when the T-virus comes knocking.

Reach: very short
Silence factor: high
Skill required: high
Power required: high
Mistakes: high consequences

And if you can get this guy, even better!

4. Zweihänder against undead (berserker choice!)

Straight from the Middle Ages, the Zweihänder (“two-hander” in German, in case you were wondering) was a large towheaded sort primarily used in the early decades of 16th-century. It was developed from the long-sought of the late Middle Ages and requires a weapon that many German knights were using that time. They would be up to 2 m in length and would weigh around 2 to 2.5 kg, had double edge straight blade and a handguard in the form of a crucifix. There is a story about a famous German hero night Pier Gerlofs Donia was limited to have wielded a Zweihänder with such skill that he managed to decapitate several opponents with a single blow. Now, I believe that would come in handy against the hordes of undead, don’t you think?

Reach: very short
Silence factor: high
Skill required: high
Power required: high
Mistakes: medium consequences
Verdict: Highly effective in the right hands

3. Halberd against undead (comofrtable choice)

There are two things people in Europe have advantage over compared to people in USA in a case of eventual undead uprising. The first one would be access to many castles, which would be perfect for defending against the undead hordes. Second, there would be many museums with very intricate, useful weapons such as halberd. This is a two-handed pole weapon that has seen many iterations of different sizes, mostly around 2 m but sometimes even longer. It is essentially a long pole and had a spear and axe combined on its end. As such, this weapon is perfect for fighting in ranks and holding the undead at bay. The so-called Pike push would be an interesting thing to witness, but I believe that the greatest advantage would be in the crate range of the weapon and its ability to use the axe on its ending.

Reach: short (nonetheless, longest of non-throwing weapons)
Silence factor: high
Skill required: high
Power required: high
Mistakes: medium consequences
Verdict: Highly effective, not recommended for beginners

2. Kukri against undead (deadly option)

If I had to choose a call weapon to face the on that, kukri would probably be my weapon of choice. It is a weapon of choice of Gurkhas of Nepal and India, a knife with an inwardly curved blade, a crossover between a machete and a sickle. As such, it is perfect for both close combat quarters, of which you would expect a lot in an undead post-apocalypse world but is also quite suitable for fights in open since these can be made in different sizes varying in length from 40 to 60 cm at times.
I was amazed to see the kukri as a weapon of choice for Mila Jovovich in Resident Evil: Extinction, but applaud them for a sensible selection of close quarter weapons!

Reach: very short
Silence factor: high
Skill required: high
Power required: medium
Mistakes: medium consequences
Verdict: Highly effective in the right hands

1. Tank against undead (pretty much the best choice)


Yeah, pretty much nuff said. Come to think of it, Rick had a tank in the very first episode… And did nothing with it.

How typical.

Any thoughts?

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Vlad The Impaler

Vlad is an old school gamer, all the way back from the times of Commodore 64. Yes, with 30 years of gaming and some 15 years as an editor and author, writing reviews for a number of magazines and online gaming portals, he is the true OG of the gaming generation. Cake is a lie. The chicken is real. The truth is out there.

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