If you do an internet search for weapon can be used to killing zombies you will find a wealth of information but almost everyone recommends pretty much the same things: Guns, machetes, the occasional katana and baseball bats galore. Yes, these weapons will be useful (although I’m not necessarily a fan of using guns for fighting zombies – the noise will only attract more of the pesky flesh-munchers and, sooner or later, you’ll run out of bullets) but there’s a much wider range of possible weapons out there.
Just to give you some food for thought here’s a few of the more unusual weapons that might prove useful when fighting zombies. Most of these can either be made out of things you might find lying around after dead start walking the earth or can be ‘liberated’ from any nearby historical museum (I already have my eye on the armoury section of my local one for a few of these!)
1. Ballista: The ballista was developed by the ancient Romans and it was their equivalent of a heavy calibre machine gun. It’s main advantage over similar modern weapons is that you don’t need things like gun powder or bullets to make it work, and come the zombie apocalypse such things are going to be in short supply. It’s also relatively silent meaning that using it won’t attract the attention of other zombies whenever you use it. It’s not really a portable weapon so primarily this is a weapon you could use to take out zombies approaching a compound or safe area while they’re some distance away, and possibly before they’re even aware you are there. It’s main limitations are that it has a relatively slow reload rate and it’s not something you’ll find lying around. With a bit of thought and some time, however, you can make one yourself.
2. Boomerang: We might think of boomerangs as novelty souvenirs people bring back for their friends from Australia but they were originally developed as hunting weapons and are perfect for smashing in the skulls of zombies from a distance while making little or no sound. The main disadvantages of boomerangs are that it can take a bit of practice before you can throw one properly and that once you’ve taken out a zombie, you’ll either have to go get it or abandon it. This means it will be most useful for taking out lone wanderers rather than large hordes.
3. Maces, morning stars and Flails: Maces and morning stars are clubs tipped with a flanged or spiky metal head. They were designed in the middle ages to smash through armour so they’re the perfect melee weapon for taking out zombies at close quarters. Related to these are flails where the metal head it attached to the club by a short chain. Similar weapons have been invented in other parts of the world, including nunchuks and the three-section staff from the far east. Flail-type weapons are more difficult to use than maces (I almost caved my own skull in with a three-section staff the first time I ever tried to use it!) but in the right hands they can be extremely effective. Their main disadvantage is that you have to be up close with a zombie to use them and you’d be better avoiding being that close in the first place.
4. Halbards and Pikes: Halbards consist of a pole around six feet long with a metal blade, hook and point on the end of it. They’re the original Swiss multi-tool and were around centuries ubiquitous Swiss army knife ever even thought of. Against zombies, they’d be effective both at keeping zombies at a distance while dispatching them through decapitation or piercing their brains. However, they’re best used when there’s a group of you all using them in consort and that might be a limitation. Related to halbards are pikes. They’re thrusting weapons with a sharp metal tip mounted on a pole that’s between ten and twenty-five feet in length. Used on their own, they are unwieldy but used by a well-trained group they can prove remarkably effective for holding off attacks from large crowds. Their use in the hedgehog formation has a lot of potential as a defensive, or even offensive, tactic against zombies. Here a group of people armed with pikes form a circle each with their pike pointing forward, preventing anyone, or anything, approaching without getting impaled. In this respect you can think of the hedgehog formation as being like a mobile palisade. Traditionally, this formation was use to hold off cavalry and when combined with bowmen who can take pot-shots at the enemy from the safely in the centre of the ‘hedgehog’ is an extremely effective defensive structure when trapped in the open. This makes it a potentially useful option for defending yourself against zombie hordes when you have no where else to go.
5. The Claymore: This isn’t the modern weapon of the same name but rather the large, double-handed broadsword traditionally used by Scottish warriors. Those who have seen the film Highlander will have a fairly good idea of what this weapon looks like as it’s the one used by the character Conor MacLeod (played by Christopher Lambert) at the start the movie. They are amongst the most powerful of swords and would be extremely useful at dispatching zombies. The main limitation of a claymore is that you need a fair amount of strength to be able to wield one effectively.
6. The sling: This is not the kind of thing you might have played around with as a kid (that’s a slingshot or a catapult) but rather the weapon David used to slay Goliath. They’re simple to make, silent to use, easy to carry and you’ll never run our of ammunition since there will always be plenty of stones on the ground. They may take a bit of practice to use but since they can be folded up very small, you can always carry one tucked away just in case. Make one, practice using it and always keep it with you just in case the zombie apocalypse catches you by surprise.
7. Bolas: The bolas is a throwing weapon originally designed to capture and bring down large prey. They consist of three pieces of rope tied together in the middle with a weight at the other end of each of them and their simplicity means that they’re easy to make. They wouldn’t be much good for killing zombies but they’d be really quite good at immobilising them by tangling their legs together. In a tight situation, a bolas might be just buy you the precious seconds you need to escape.
Anyway, these are just a few of the many possible weapons other than your usual guns and baseball bats that might prove useful when you find yourself fighting off hordes of zombies and I’m sure there are many others too. When the dead start to rise it will be too late to start looking around to see what else is out there, so why not take the time now to look around and see what other options might be available. Good places to start are your local museum (if you happen to have one nearby) or through an internet search, and while you’re doing this, you never know what else you might learn about the past or about other cultures.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK, and available as an ebook and in print in the US from the 21st March 2013. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.