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Zombie Guns

What determines a Zombie Gun?

In case of a "Zombie Apocalypse" or any other disaster situation that fits the metaphor, a firearm can be one of your most valuable tools. As Daryl stated in the great survival series "The Walking Dead"; "Guns are worth more than gold. Gold won't protect your family...put food on your table." However, one must consider the conditions of a survival situation, and the practical considerations that will apply to the firearm, and the operator.

These considerations would include that not everyone in your group or you yourself may not be proficient with firearms. Additionally low maintenance and reliable firearms would clearly be advantageous in dirty survival conditions, where cleaning supplies and servicing a firearm are a luxury one can't afford. Platforms that are widely available also have the advantage of finding readily available ammunition (in an abandoned police cruiser, a vacant Walmart, random homes, etc.) and replacement parts.


Low maintenance, reliable firearms that are user-friendly and accept commonly available ammunition, and are effective close/medium range defensive weapons, are the ideal zombie guns.


1. Pump-Action Shotgun - 12 gauge, pump-action cycling

Mossberg 500 Platform 12 gauge

Stopping power, ease-of-use, widely available ammo, various ammo options, low-maintenence, reliable design, after-market accessories, affordability...

Downside: Slower pump cycling compared to semiautomatic, Low round capacity (typically 6 or 8).

Perhaps the most common long-arm, it has the advantage of having widely available ammunition. You are likely to come across 12 gauge shells in many homes and stores.

The pump-action of this design also makes it a rather safe firearm, one that won't accidentally discharge when you're on the run, or if you drop it.

The design is also rather simple and straightforward, making it reliable, and very low maintenance. As a scatter-gun it's essentially point-and-shoot, making it effective for even a novice at close to medium ranges.
It's very low maintenance, you can put a thousand rounds through it without cleaning, and it will go "bang" every time.

Shotguns provide excellent stopping power, essentially being a "hand-cannon", and shot shells come in different sizes from small birdshot to devastating slugs.

2. Pistol Caliber Carbine / Sub Rifle - .40 or .45 cal or 9mm, Semiautomatic

Kel Tec Sub 2000 .40 Caliber Glock Configuration

Ease of use, low maintenance, uses common handgun ammo, affordable, light weight.

Downside: magazine specific. Handguns provide a more concealable alternative.

This is a pistol-caliber carbine, meaning it uses pistol ammunition and magazines (9mm, .40 S&W, etc.) and essentially a substitute for a handgun.

3. AK-47 / AKM Carbine - 7.62 x 39mm, Semiautomatic

Romanian AK-47 with Tactical Quad Rail (buy below).

Low maintenance, reliable design, affordable, high power round, inexpensive ammo.

Downside: Loud, Limited accuracy at longer range, heavier ammo.

The AK vs. AR-15 debate is a heated one. AR-15's are more accurate than AKs (and much more expensive). Most would agree that AKs are very low maintenance and reliable while the AR is very high maintenance, and is prone to jam, especially when run through environmental conditions. Most would also consider the larger 7.62x39mm cartridge as a more powerful stopping round, while the .223/5.54mm Nato round of the AR has come under some scrutiny as lacking power (though it is a good "killing round" that penetrates soft-tissue). This is a zombie situation.

It does possess the rapid fire capability of a more powerful round, and it's accuracy is fine at the mid-range that we are really discussing for this specific purpose. Let's face it an AK will mow down zombies in most zombie tactical situations.

4. AR-15 Rifle - 5.56mm/.223 caliber, Semiautomatic

Zombtac operator "C-Ghost" handling a Bushmaster AR-15.

Accurate, Lightweight, Indigenously popular/availability of ammo. Used by Law Enforcement, Military.

Downside: High Maintenance/Prone to jamming, Relatively Pricey, Lack of true stopping power.

The AR-15 is an iconic civilian version of the military's M16/M4 platform and the semi automatic rifle of choice in the US.
More gun enthusiasts own this platform that any other semi in the US, and Law Enforcement also uses it, even as a patrol rifle.

The downside of the AR is that it is a high maintenance rifle with lots of parts (the anti-AK). Keep it dirty and it is prone to jamming (although many downplay this issue). This may work in an urban setting or inital zombie outbreak, but in the long term could be an issue.

The .223 remington/5.56 NATO round that the AR-15 platform uses also had drawn some controversy. The small, but high velocity bullet is a "kill round", the small round cavitying a wound channel when it hits soft tissue. It does not have much stopping power and won't do much damage against cars and other non-personel targets. This can be an issue pertaining to zombies.

5. Mosin Nagant 91/30 Rifle - 7.62 x 54Rmm, bolt-action

1938 Mosin Nagan from the Tula Arsenal (at bottom).

Affordable power and range. Good accuracy and reasonable reliability.

Downside: a bit long and unwieldy, specific ammo not commonly found, low capacity, bolt action.

Widely available Military Surplus rifle from WWII Russia (featured in the 2001 movie, "Enemy at the Gates"). Where else can a zombie hunter get a fairly accurate rifle that fires a powerful cartridge for just over 100 bucks?


Why aren't Handguns on the list?

A sidearm is an invaluable component of any tactical package and one should have one on a drop-leg holster, vest, or concealed when going into tactical circumstances. However, dealing with our Zombie Gun criteria handguns pose a few hurdles.

As many members of the Zombtac team reside in NY state, and on Long Island, we can attest to the difficulties and restrictions on handguns. Besides a long waiting period there is no actual concealed carry in downstate NY. There are many such restrictions in many Metro areas in the US. During the initial stages of a "zombie apocalypse" there will be levels of transitionary chaos that will still be met with Law Enforcement resistance and control. Sure, when only the dead walk the land and the boys in blue are brainfeed then all bets are off, but until then we strongly urge you to abide by your state and local laws regarding all firearms.

Downside: Difficulty to obtain and legally carry (in some urban/suburban areas), cost, and difficulty to master (for a neophyte).


Scoped High Power Rifle (usually bolt-action)

We've seen the potential of "reaching out and touching someone" in the "Walking Dead". The montage in "Days Gone Bye" where is picking off zombies from the second story of a house with a scoped bolt-action rifle is one of the best in the series.

Zombtac Recommendation: Remington 700 SPS tactical .308

Saiga 12, Semi-Automatic Magazine-Fed Shotgun.

It's an AK-type, Russian Military 12 gauge shotgun. Semi-automatic and magazine fed. (With a drum you can have up to 20 shell capacity). It's been featured on shows like Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior and Discovery Channel's Sons of Guns. The Saiga 12 is one bad zombie killer.

Zombtac recommendation: Saiga 12, converted

Lever Action "Cowboy" Rifle
Tallahassee uses a cut-down lever action rifle in Zombieland. Chuck Connors featured a lever action cowboy gun (a modified 1892 Winchester SRC in .44-.40) in The Rifleman TV series. It's good enough for Tallahassee and Chuck Connors. 'Nuff said.

Zombtac recommendation: Marlin 1894 in .45 colt/ 44 mag


The Double-Barrel Shotgun

"This is my boomstick." The famous words of Ash from Army of Darkness. We've seen Alice blast zombies with quarters using it in the Resident Evil series, and a pre-Social Network Jesse Eisenberg (Colombus) yield one in Zombieland.
The double barrel shotgun looks cool, which is good enough for Hollywood, but after two shots it's a glorified club. And reloading it can be a clumsy experience as exemplified in all it's geek-glory by Columbus.

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