'Walking Dead' Expert Paul Vigna Explains the Best Weapons to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Tuesday, 03 October 2017 - 3:28PM
The Walking Dead
Tuesday, 03 October 2017 - 3:28PM
'Walking Dead' Expert Paul Vigna Explains the Best Weapons to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse
< >
Image credit: AMC
You've joked about it with your friends. You've written up contingency plans for fun. You've glanced through the pricing on rechargeable flashlights and water purifiers. It all comes down to the same question: if the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, would you survive it? Slightly below that in importance, however, is the question of what weapon you'll be wielding.

Paul Vigna is The Wall Street Journal's resident Walking Dead columnist, as well as the newly minted author of GUTS: The Anatomy of the Walking Dead. Vigna has some advice for you wannabe survivors, specifically about armaments (see below). Turns out Negan has the right idea.



Okay, it finally happened, for reals. The zombies are here, they are taking over. What do you do?
First off, let's accept the basic ground rules of the modern zombie: they are walking corpses, mostly dead flesh, animated by only some measure of activity in the brain. They are slow, lumbering, mindless creatures (but wait, you say, aren't there "fast" zombies, too? No, there's no such thing as "fast" zombies. That's a Hollywood fiction. We are dealing with reality here).
Next, let's be clear about one thing: you will probably die in the first wave of the zombie outbreak. Even if you've seen a zombie movie or two, or 20, even if you faithfully watch The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking, Talking Dead, Z Nation, and Ash vs Evil Dead, chances are you won't be mentally prepared for the actual outbreak when it comes. The first zombie you encounter will be somebody you know, perhaps somebody you love. You are not going to be thinking about stoving their brain in with a hammer. You are going to be worried about them, you are going to reach out to them, you are going to try and help them.
You are going to be eaten alive.


Let's assume, though, that through a twist of fate, you survive that first wave. You understand now what you are up against. You are ready to fight for your survival. Now, your circumstances are going to determine what weapons you have available to you. An M-16 with a crate full of clips is a great weapon, assuming you have the training to use it and maintain it, but chances are you will not have access to an M-16. Or clips.
Of course, any gun, pistol, rifle, or automatic weapon should be your first choice for personal defense, assuming you either have one or can get your hands on one. But guns have two serious drawbacks. One, the noise will almost certainly draw the attention of other zombies. Two, guns need bullets, clips, ammunition. A 12-gauge shotgun is a tremendous defensive weapon in the zombie apocalypse, but unless you are holed up in a gun shop, eventually you are going to run out of shells.

Let's say you don't have a gun. What next? You're going to have to get creative, quick.
In the home: there are myriad things in your house that could be used as a weapon. Kitchen knives, for instance. Most sports equipment. Do yourself a favor, go to the basement and get that extension pole you bought when you painted the living-room ceiling. Duct tape your sharpest, longest kitchen knife to the end of it. Use a lot of duct tape. Now you've got a spear. Hammers are good weapons, too. You might as well grab a screwdriver, too. It's not the best weapon, but in a jam you'll be glad you shoved it in your back pocket.


Now, here's your real problem: zombies are harder to kill than you think. Oh, sure, it all looks pretty easy on the big screen, or small screen for that matter—you just grab a knife and stab it in the head. In every zombie movie or show, you will see a lot of people stabbing the undead in the head, with zombie bodies immediately crumbling to the ground. Even weak-ish characters, backed into a corner, will suddenly summon the courage to deliver this kill shot.
Only, it's not going to work like that. Zombies may be undead, but their skulls are still made of hard bone. To actually get an implement of destruction through that skullcap, you're going to need a big implement (like a bowie knife or even bigger), a significant amount of strength, and a lot of training. Without those things, it's most likely that your blade will just bounce off the zombie's head (Fear the Walking Dead actually showed this in its second episode, when Tobias tries to kill his zombified principal). "Most of the time what you would be hearing is 'dink, dink,' " says weapons expert Marc MacYoung, "followed by screams of the person being eaten alive by zombies."

If you are going to attempt to put a zombie down with a knife, you've got four avenues to the brain: two eyes, two ears. Aim well, because you won't get a second shot.


Let's assume you survived the first wave, you're still upright, and you've had time to scour your ravaged and abandoned town for supplies. Assuming you're handy with a sword, you can't go wrong with a long, sharp katana blade. If you're a bowman, well, your choice will be obvious. Chances are, though, that you aren't handy with a sword, and that you're not a bowman. In that case you should search for what is probably, all things considered, your best bet: a baseball bat. Barbed wire optional.

A baseball bat does not take much skill to wield (you're just trying to brain zombies, not clear the wall at Yankee Stadium). It doesn't require ammunition. And it will most decidedly crash through a zombie's skull. Might take a few swings, but it'll do the trick. The downside is that even if you can manage to put down a zombie with one swing, the bat isn't the fastest weapon. If you're set upon by even a small herd, you won't be able to swing fast enough to take them all down. And you'll get tired much faster than if you had that M-16 and a bag full of clips.
Be sure to get a good pair of gloves, too. The last thing you need in the zombie apocalypse are painful blisters.
Ultimately, no matter how good you get at zombie killing, you're going to be outnumbered—that's just the nature of zombie pandemics. The reality of your very dire situation is that you will not be able to kill them all. If you keep trying, eventually you're sure to get sloppy and expose an arm to a biter. Then it's all over. So either plan to link up with some other survivors or find a cool, secluded spot to ride out the end of the world. Good luck.

You can pick up a copy of GUTS: The Anatomy of The Walking Dead here.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi TV Shows
The Walking Dead