As we all know, zombies have been around for a long, long time. To survive a zombie apocalypse, or even a small local undead uprising, knowing your weaponry is essential. The tool must fit the task. In killing zombies, one had two options – long distance or close up. Long distance is safer but sometimes impractical. What effective weapons have zombie killers through the ages employed?
If you were in China during the Qin Dynasty, you had many options, all of which required skill and strength. If you were a poor, malnourished peasant, your chances of survival were low. You would probably become one of the walking dead. The most effective weapon for long-distance zombie slaying was the Gung or bow. An arrow through the head usually did the job. For closer quarters and multiple zombies, the Nu, a semi-automatic crossbow firing 10 bolts in 15 seconds made you a very popular defender of village maidens. Swords were excellent for removing heads. The Jian, a double-edged straight sword, the Dao, a curved, single-edged weapon, the liuyedao, a moderately curved sword, and the piandao, curved like a scimitar or shamshir, and the much heavier niuweidao, a two-edged broadsword.
The Chinese also employed axes, such as the fu, curved double-edged axe, and the yue, a single-edged heavy ax, very effective at lopping off heads or cleaving limbs. Spears (Qiang), and heavy long pole weapons such as the Ji with a sharp metal tip at its base and a curved blade on the other end. The guan dao, pu dao, and tang dao had long, weighted, curved blades whose long poles allowed its user to deliver a powerful blow capable of cleaving both horse and rider, if a zombie happened to be mounted.
Much later, during medieval times, swords, weighted weapons, lances, bows and later, guns kept zombies at bay. The longbow; crossbow, which could fire wooden bolts or spherical metal balls; the arbalest, a heavier crossbow with a 900-yard range; and the hand-held pistol crossbow allowed some distance between zombie and defender. They were especially useful as zombies gathered at moats or closed draw bridges. Knight code of honor required a more intimate approach to zombie slaying. Clubs, maces, war hammers, flails, and morningstars, were all battering weapons designed to crush armor or zombie skulls. Lances, spears, pikes and javelins were hurled or used for stabbing. Pole arms – glaives, halberds, bariches, correques, and fauchards were similar in scope and use to Chines Dao weapons. The guisame had a hook at the tip to dismount riders. It could be used to bring zombies within sword reach. Halberds had an axe blade on one end, backed by a hook on the other side and a spike in its tip.
Falchons were one-handed, single-edged swords, while long swords were two-handed, doubled-edged swords. Daggers, such as the anelace, the poignard, the stiletto (An Italian favorite), and the rondel made hand-to-hand killing of undead foes close up and personal. The bardiche, the pollaxe, and the throwing axe required less training but were quite effective.
Little changed until modern weaponry came along during the Civil War. Swords were still used, but bayonets attached to the barrels of rifles saw more use. Pistols included the Moore’s Belt revolver, which fired 7-.32 caliber bullets, the Smith and Wesson, the Colt, the Remington, the Lemat, which had an over-and-under barrel capable of firing 9-.42 caliber rounds from the top and a 16-gauge shotgun shell in the lower. Two very useful weapons for zombie defense were the Walsh revolver with its 12 shot capacity and the Elgin pistol with its large, curved blade on the barrel. Only two hundred of the Walshes were made, so finding one was matter of luck.
Rifles included the Hawken Rifle, the Springfield and its Confederate copies, the Mississippi, the Fayetteville, and the Richmond, the Sharps, and the two lever-action rifles, the Henry and the Spenser. The earlier muzzle loaders fired heavy lead Minnie balls of .88 caliber or .69 caliber. Later bullets resembled todays ammunition. What sets this era apart from earlier eras is the introduction of mass killing weapons, the machine gun. The Gatling gun and the Agar gun, each capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute, would have been very useful in a full-tilt zombie frontal assault.
WWI saw the advent of killing on a massive scale. The ingenuity of the entire civilized world went into the design of new, more destructive weaponry. Rifles improved in accuracy and ease of use. The British Enfield, the American Springfield, and the German Mauser would allow the killing of zombies at long distance, safer and more confusing to zombies. For mowing down groups of undead attackers, the Maxim gun, the German Maschinengewehr, the Lewis gun, the Gatling gun, the French Hotchkiss gun could deliver 800-100 rounds per minute to their targets.
Today, the weapons are much the same as in WWI and WWII. They are more accurate but no more effective. Faced with a horde of deadly zombies, I would prefer a sword, a guan dao, or a crossbow. They are more silent and just as deadly. In a pinch, a tire iron, a baseball bat, or a chainsaw will do the trick.
Killing zombies is not a sport. It is a means of survival. Choose your weapon carefully. Always take into account your skill level, strength, and squeamishness about busted or decapitated heads.
Aim High – Shoot Straight