In this post, I’ll take a bit different direction than usual: while related to fantasy and possibly Sci-Fi, I’ll try a realistic look at what gear would be useful in case of zombie apocalypse.
How to kill a zombie?
The first important aspect of this hypothetical scenario is what kind of damage is necessary to return an undead back to the dead. Usually, decapitation works: brain is still needed to control the limbs. For similar reason, severe damage to the spine is often efficient. Severing limbs might not really ‘kill’ a zombie but it’ll prevent it from moving and thus neutralize it.
Thinking about this, there’s one major loophole with the typical zombie apocalypse scenario: moving a body requires energy which is, in case of living creatures, supplied from food. Zombies, while able to eat, don’t seem to lose the ability to move even in case of not eating for prolonged period of time. What I want to say by this is that a zombie apocalypse would, unlike the typical movie, eventually ended by its own as the zombies would have no energy to continue moving and eventually just deteriorate wherever they end up. That is, unless you’re looking at fantasy where it’d be possible to power the undead by magic (which, though, would still need to be continuously provided).
Firearms are useless?
Another problem with the typical zombie apocalypse series (looking at stuff like Resident Evil) is the endless supply of ammunition and the fact it’s not hard at all to get your hands on weapons.
Which would not be the case in a realistic scenario. Getting ammo would be increasingly difficult because there would be zombies around. Even maximum precision (and thus saving ammo) would get one only so far.
Even armored vehicles would not last long – while a tank could crush zombies by running them over, the fuel consumption of a tank is massive. Just as with ammo, a society crumbling under the apocalypse would not be able to sustain fuel supply lines for long. And it’s pretty much the same when it comes to flamethrowers.
It’s hammer time?
If there’s one major advantage to a warhammer as a weapon, it’s the fact there’s no edge and thus it doesn’t go blunt. Theoretically, a single warhammer could last forever. With long enough haft, it should have a good enough reach against shambling zombies. And it can be very efficient against them, under some conditions.
First is that the person using a hammer has the strength to do so – the weight is at the far end of the weapon, which means a lot of strength is needed – even though it’s very efficiently transferred to the target. For someone without strong arms, this could be close to impossible.
The second limitation is that a hammer is messy. Splatting a zombie’s head doesn’t sound like a good way to combat the threat, especially if it was caused by a virus – spreading the zombie’s bodily fluids only helps to spread the disease. Which also means a risk of becoming diseased in case of cleaning the hammerhead.
A wood-cutting axe is around the same level – the blunt end can be used as a hammer (and tends to be lighter but also deals less damage) while it can serve as a sharp weapon – though the way an axe is used would carry a major risk ot if getting stuck.
All hail the sword?
Considering the disadvantages of a warhammer, a sword might seem like an ideal weapon: if long enough, it has decent reach while the weight distribution is more favorable. And the fact it’s a bladed weapon means no mess as a hammer would make. And any part of the blade can be useful so it’d not be as difficult to aim.
Well, a sword would certainly be very efficient – but the main question is: for how long. Being bladed weapon means it depends a lot on sharpness. Depending on how durable a zombie would be, it could mean the need to frequently sharpen the blade to keep the sword useful.
This also means that most fantasy scenarios would be way more prepared to face a zombie apocalypse than our current society – not only because of swords being a reliable weapon but also due to city walls being a decent preventive measure.
Another thing to consider in case of zombie threat is what gear would protect the wearer should a zombie slip past their guard. This would mostly depend on what (if any) weapons were the zombies able to use. Another aspect is the cause – most often a disease. If a scratch is enough to become infected, more reliable protection is needed.
In case of zombies using no weapons and only their teeth, it’s likely that layered fabric would work well enough – an example could be the thick ‘suit’ used to train police dogs or for demonstrations of their use. Kevlar-based gear would also work well and thick enough leather could prove impossible to bite through for human teeth (in case of animal zombies, their jaw strength should be kept in mind). Plastic can also be tough material to chew so riot shields could be useful in defense when combined with one-handed weapon.
Fantasy-type setting could also use the usual metal armor – while full plate would be pretty much zombie-proof, chainmail could be enough – given the layer of clothing under it would be enough to prevent potential infection should a zombie’s teeth find the gap in the links.
So, it seems that fantasy settings might be better prepared for a potential zombie pocalypse than the present-time people.
Also, this post was definitely not inspired by any kind of recent virus outbreak. Bah, who am I kidding? It was. *goes to watch Resident Evil*
Have fun and see you next time.