The Personal Record of Martin Ashton

What would it be like to watch a zombie outbreak progress to the level of zombie apocalypse?  Writer Justin Haxby is answering that in the The Personal Record of Martin Ashton , a blog-style serial story that leads up to his forthcoming novel Sanctuary.

Unlike most of the zombie fiction out there, this story assumes that the outbreak happens in a world where people know about the threat of zombies.  Characters even talk about what they’ve learned from reading books from Max Brooks.  We’re excited to see the story as it is developing, and encourage you to read along with us.


Weapon Review: The Reaper

Today we at ZPDN are very excited to bring you our initial review of one of the most lethal blades we’ve ever seen: The Reaper from Zombie Tools!

One look at their site and you’ll realize that the guys over at ZombieTools are kindred spirits in our fight against the shambling undead. These guys take the necropocalypse seriously, and they have the weapons to prove it. We’ve been dying to get our hands on these death-dealing devices for a long time now.

Here’s how Zombie Tools describes The Reaper:

This 4-foot tool is truly an instrument of death. Cut from quarter-inch spring steel, she barely notices when you hit bone. With black leather wrapped around the handholds of the aluminum slab grip, this 6 pound piece of potential violence makes one ooze badassery just holding it.

My wife’s birthday came up, and if a present of a 4-foot instrument of death doesn’t say “Happy Birthday!” I don’t know what does. My wife has had her eye on The Reaper for more than a year now, and this was the perfect opportunity to arm please her on her big day.

The first thing we noticed about The Reaper is the weight. This blade feels heavy. This isn’t like a Cold Steel sword; this thing is solid from tip to tip. (And please don’t get us wrong; we like Cold Steel blades. We just like this one so very much more.) One of the reasons The Reaper is so heavy is that it has a full tang blade, meaning that the metal in the blade runs all the way through the weapon – all 4 feet! This is one way to differentiate real blades from showy props. The last thing you want in the zombie apocalypse is a blade with a rat-tail tang. The grip, made from aluminum, blends almost seamlessly with the tang of the blade. The handle is almost the perfect width for my wife’s hands, and fits very comfortably in mine.

Detail of the Reaper's blade - notice the spatter pattern

The blade of The Reaper has a very solid feel, and very little flex or bend even under severe pressure. The blade is thick enough that you don’t need to worry about it breaking under a twisting pressure. We also love the decoration on the blade – it adds just the right distressed look to the blade. Don’t let that distressing fool you – this blade is more solid than any we’ve handled before. On the handle this distressing takes on a

Detail of the Reaper's hilt. This thing was made to fit your hands. The distressing grooves actually improve your grip!

dimensional quality, actually digging small groves into the aluminum. When we first unboxed it, my fear was that this distressing could perhaps cut the wielder’s hand during normal use, but after rubbing my hand over the handle my fears quickly vanished. The guys at Zombie Tools clearly made this weapon to be handled, and there are no burrs or jagged spots on the handle at all. The distressing grooves actually add to the grip of the blade, making it easier to handle, especially when your hands are wet.

Here's a photo with the Kydex sheath on.

The black Kydex sheath, which covers just the blade, is better than I expected. Even though the sheath stays on the blade quite securely by itself, my wife plans to secure this even further using a clasp near the bottom of the sheath in order to ensure that it stays in place during practice with the weapon.

That brings me to another point – it would be wicked awesome to be able to get a training blade appropriate for drills and workouts – something not sharp, nor very pointed at the end. The real thing begs to be drilled with, given its weight, but it is dangerous enough that I don’t want to spar with it. A training “blank” with about the same dimensions and as heavy or heavier than the real thing would be the perfect training tool.

I’m a big fan of customizing weapons, and another customization that would fit The Reaper well is to be able to attach the sheath to the blade via a paracord lanyard. Thus when you need to pop it off to lop the heads of a mob of stenches, the sheath will stay attached to the blade and won’t get lost in the fracas. The other customization the blade begs for is a carry strap. This blade is likely longer than your rifle, and it’d be only natural to strap it on your back. The Kydex sheath is threaded with eyelets, so these will be useful in making some of these customizations.

The Reaper really lives up to its picture – this thing is hardcore to the bone. You know that game people play where they say:

“Look to your left. The first object there is now your weapon in the zombie apocalypse. How screwed are you?”

(What, you’ve never played that game? You clearly have never been to my house.) I want to keep this Reaper next to me all the time now. But my wife isn’t letting go of her new baby any time soon, so I’d better get myself my own blade from Zombie Tools. Hmmm … the Hellion sure looks awesome!

One last thing we want to mention is the killer customer service we received from Zombie Tools. Blades this awesome take time, and with Christmas back-orders, I was expecting to get the blade a few weeks after my wife’s birthday. The guys there worked their tails off to get this blade to me by her birthday (thanks Chris!) and they were awesome to work with. These guys care about their craft, a point made clearly when you heft their blades. We hope they keep outfitting mankind to deal with the undead threat for years to come.

We’re trying to work out how best to test out the Reaper’s cutting power in a weapons test, and as soon as we figure that out we’ll bring that to you. Until then, Zombie Tools gets the ZPDN seal-of-approval!

The verdict: 5 out of 5

A 5 out of 5!

What’s the best zombie-slaying weapon you’ve ever encountered? Tell us about it in the comments!

Zombie Survival Training: Run For Your Lives!

Yesterday the most unique 5k race I’ve ever heard of was run in Baltimore for the first time ever.  The race is called Run For Your Lives! This ain’t your grandma’s 5k, where you worry about hydration and pulse rate.  No, this is a race through a zombie-infested obstacle course where you’re scrambling to avoid joining the shambling ranks of the undead.

Feast your eyes on this point-of-view video showing the frenetic pace of one runner’s attempt to make it through the course.

Based on the feedback we’ve heard about the race, there were some logistical challenges with getting 9,700 racers through the course.  Even so, the race was a resounding success and we can’t wait to participate when it comes to the Seattle/Portland area.

Here at we take surviving the Necropocalypse seriously, so this race is right up our alley.  I can’t think of a better simulation for facing hordes of the undead.  One of our staff writers is going to train for the race, and will post periodic updates about training and eventually running the race.  We’re excited to train for what looks like the most exciting and challenging 5k ever!

Check out the details of the race and register for an upcoming race in your area at:

Stay tuned to for more updates regarding Run For Your Lives!

Zombie Survival Tip: Join Your Local Prepper’s Network

Ever wonder what kind of resources are out there for the survival-minded?  Nationwide, “prepper networks” are an amazing resource for survival and emergency preparedness information.  Most states in the USA have a network, and there are many groups for specialized interests, such as Ham Radio Operators.  There are also groups for many political and religious organizations.

THIS. Forrest Hills Library wins.

THIS. Forrest Hills Library wins.

 What will you get out of joining your local Prepper’s Network?  These networks cover a wide variety of topics, including:

  • how to build an emergency kit
  • how to stockpile and store food
  • the kind of natural disasters that might occur in your area, and how to prepare for them
  • free resources, such as survival e-books
  • information about emergency preparedness programs offered by your state

 Take this example to see what kinds of resources are available from your local prepper’s network: the Alabama Prepper’s Network recently published a list of the Top 10 Survival Downloads You Should Have.  The high-quality books include Army survival handbooks and emergency medical and dental guides.  Take the time to check these resources out – they are definitely worth your time.

 How to join

To find and join your local prepper’s group, visit the American Prepper’s Network and register.  The registration page is located at:  Once you’ve registered, use the user controls to locate your state’s group. You can join multiple groups from this site, so be sure to check for other groups that interest you.

 Are you already a member of your local prepper’s network? Tell us in the comments section what you’ve gained through this membership.  Just joining a network? Let us know about the gems you find.  After all, prepper networks are all about banding together to survive whatever the world throws at us – even if that is a horde of decaying corpses who want to eat you!

Communicating In Disaster Situations

Hurricane Katrina. The September 11 terror attacks. The 2010 Haitian earthquake. All of these terrible disasters resulted in major loss of life, property, and displaced thousands of people. They also provided clear examples of how communication systems can fail just when people need them most. When disaster strikes unexpectedly, the normal means of communication that we rely on are often the first services disrupted. The last thing you need during a zombie outbreak is an “all circuits are busy” message. This article will discuss the reasons communications fail, which methods are the most reliable, and how to ensure you can always get through, no matter what.

What causes communications to fail, anyway?Zombie nurse

With the advent of fiber optics, communication networks are far more durable today than they were thirty years ago, and one of the reasons for this is that much of telephone cabling is now underground. This has vastly reduced the failure rate due to accidents and inclement weather. You might hear a telecom employee referring to “the last mile”, which is a slang term for the final delivery leg of a telephone signal between local stations and your house. (Incidentally, if you live in a rural area, this distance may be much more than a mile.) Almost all telephone service disruptions caused by network interruption happen during this “last mile”. Physical disruptions to service caused by something as simple as an automobile accident can disrupt your phone service. Natural disasters, like floods and inclement weather, can also disrupt the physical network that allows your telephone to work.

Another common cause of outages is power loss. The equipment that powers your telephone line usually runs separately from the power to your house (that’s why you might still have telephone service when your home power goes out). Even so, the equipment on the phone network requires power, so is susceptible to long-term outages.

Still have a landline phone? Ask yourself this question – are all the phones in your house cordless? Most people would answer yes because of the convenience of cordless phones. That cordless phone is worthless even if you have a signal to your telephone jack once power loss to the base occurs.

Many people have switched over to carrying only their cell phone and have ditched their landline. (I’m one of these people.) Cell phone networks are a walking contradiction; the equipment is more reliable than many other methods of communicating, but cell phones are some of the least reliable communication devices during disasters. Why are they so unreliable? Cell phone carriers operate on the least amount of equipment they can because it is expensive. Cellular towers are designed to handle calls during normal usage times, which means that they support only a small percentage of customers are making a phone call at a time. During a disaster where the equipment to carry your call remains intact, the most likely reason you can’t get a call out is that everyone is trying to make a call. The cellular networks simply aren’t designed to handle so many calls at the same time.

Social networking’s role in recent disasters

The Internet is more durable, but not by much. By all means, if your cell phone doesn’t work, try your internet (both on your smart phone and PC). In recent disasters and political upheavals, text messaging and social networking has played a surprisingly important role. Lives were saved during Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian Earthquake because text messages were able to get through when phone calls could not. SMS text messages get through for one reason – they are very small pieces of information and it takes far fewer resources for cellular carriers to transmit these messages compared to full phone calls. It is important to recognize text messaging and social medial like Twitter as a potential option when nothing else works.

Wireless Radios

Wireless radio is one of the most established tools in disaster scenarios. Radios send signals via radio waves instead of through cables. Anyone within range listening on the right frequency will be able to hear your message.

The major limitation to consumer wireless radio is range. This table shows the basic radios available to the general public, and you’ll quickly see that the range on these radios isn’t helpful out of your immediate geographic location.

Service Channels Intended use Range
CB (Citizen’s band) 40 Private/business 10+ miles
Marine VHF 50 Maritime 20+ miles
Family Radio Service (FRS) 22 Personal 2 miles
Multi-Use Radio Service (MRS) 5 Personal 5+ miles

Many professionals, especially first responders and public safety officials, use more robust radio systems that have a greater range. Since the average citizen can’t get their hands on these radios, these are just not an option. So how can you always get through, no matter what? I’m glad you asked!

Amateur Radio

Amateur radio has moved from a personal hobby to become one of the most valuable assets in disaster management. You may have heard of amateur radio referred to as “ham radio”. Amateur radio operators, commonly called Hams, are able to call literally around the world given the right equipment and conditions. How far they can call depends on the strength of their radio, the type of antenna they have, the band they are operating on and atmospheric conditions.

Given these limitations, amateur radio enthusiasts and government agencies have set up repeaters stations that allow for local signals to be carried across states, countries, even oceans. Additional amateur radio technologies and protocols allow really neat tricks (for example, the D-STAR protocol, which gets bonus points for sounding like a certain sci-fi superweapon). Want to use your radio to call someone’s phone a few states away? No problem! Need to transmit a file or use the Internet? Yep, you can do that too. You can send text messages and morse code, too. This means that on a simple handheld 5-watt radio can be a lifeline when all other forms of communication fail.
So why doesn’t everyone use amateur radio? Well, it requires some knowledge, and in almost every country in the world it requires a license. In the United States licenses are issued by the Federal Communications Commission (the FCC), and other countries have agencies of the same nature. The good news is that the government wants you to have a license (at least here in the USA) because they know how effective amateur radio is in disasters. In the USA licenses are issued when an applicant passes a test, and the first license class (Technician) is 35 questions long. The good news is that those 35 questions come from a pool of 350 publicly available questions that you can study and memorize before taking the test. When you pass the test, which costs $10, the FCC will issue you a license with a call sign, and you’ll be authorized to start transmitting.

I recently attended an amateur radio class and I highly recommend that you do the same to prepare for the test. For me, it was the best way to dive into this community, and it gave me the background I needed to really understand what the test questions meant. There are many free classes available, so keep your eyes open for one in your area. Use Google to find a local Ham Club. I also recommend the site which (despite it’s dated look) has some amazing resources. Be sure to try out their practice tests which are excellent study tools.

Bonus: Zombie Survival Cell Phone

This article provides some very compelling arguments to purchase a zombie apocalypse cell phone. It recommends the Motorola Motofone F3, a phone which is designed for developing countries where cell signals are weak and the environmental conditions are inhospitable. The phone holds a charge for a very long time and makes a great backup to that smartphone you carry. Best of all, you can usually find one on Google Shopping for under 25 bucks. You don’t have to be trapped in a zombie wasteland to appreciate that.

Zombie Combat Technique: Slicing the Pie

Slicing The Pie

Zombie combat techniques are key to surviving the coming necropocalypse, so we at are starting a new series of articles: Zombie Combat Techniques.  Today’s technique, like many, will be adapted from well-established techniques used by tactical teams and armies around the world.  In a tactical or survival situation, every move you make must provide you the maximum protection while giving you the maximum ability to dispatch your enemy. 

 “Slicing the pie”, also referred to as “pie-ing” or “(to) pie the corner” is a technique that refers to how you walk around a corner in a dangerous situation.  Slicing the pie provides a safe method to round corners with the least exposure to the unknown situation around that corner.  It gives you maximum flexibility and cover as you execute the technique.

The Wrong Way to Corner

The easiest way to describe the right method to take a corner is to first describe the wrong method.  This is almost certainly the way most of us round corners in our everyday life.  Essentially many of us take corners by walking into the next corridor and then making a 90-degree angle turn abruptly when we’ve passed the corner.  This is ok in everyday life, but in a zombie survival situation it could turn you into a tasty meatsnack for a lurking Zed.

Let’s use some diagrams to help us understand what is wrong with taking a corner at an acute angle.  We’ll use SWAT team members in our images.  Let’s call this guy Marcus.  In this scenario, Marcus is approaching an intersection and he doesn’t know what’s around the next corner.  Marcus is going to make the mistake of executing a standard 90-degree turn.

Marcus is staying very close to the wall because he thinks this will offer him the best cover.  In fact, staying near a wall offers better protection when moving down long corridors, but not when rounding corners.  In our example, here’s what Marcus can see from his position:

To Marcus, this intersection might look safe to cross or to round the corner.  He may even peek around the corner to see what’s there.  Let’s see what is really around this bend waiting for Marcus.

That’s a pretty serious threat, and the worst part is that Marcus won’t know about the enemy’s position before they know about his, due to his chosen method to round the corner.  As Marcus moves into the corner, he’s going to expose first his weapon and then his self to the enemy before he can see them.

 Let’s see what happens to Marcus:

By the time Marcus is ready to react to the new threat, it is almost on top of him.  He’s exposed himself unnecessarily and now must rely on his reflexes to catch up to the unfortunate surprise.  Things don’t look so good for Marcus.

The Right Way to Corner: Slicing the Pie

In order to maintain execute proper tactical cornering, first you’ll have to master a step called “strafing”.  Essentially to strafe is to step to the side while rotating your body gradually.  This is a popular technique used in video games, and that’s for a reason – it allows you to fix your focus while being able to change your path.

 Slicing the pie is essentially strafing around a corner one “slice” at a time.  The apex of the corner represents the center of the “pie”, so essentially 3/4ths of the pie is visible while 1/4th is occupied by the corner.  As you approach the corner, you begin to strafe around an imaginary circle (the outside edge of the “pie”).  With each step around the perimeter of the pie, you can see a bit further into the intersecting corridor.

Confused?  Yeah, it’s hard to describe, but easy to show.  This picture should explain it for you.  Click the picture to view an animation of Slicing the Pie.

As you can see with our friend George here, circling the corner one slice at a time is a great way to see what you’re going to encounter.  As you round each step, you are able to see more of what you’re getting into while exposing yourself to any threats only slightly more with each step.

If you perceive a threat and decide that discretion is the better part of valor (that is to say, you want to retreat) all you have to do is reverse your strafe around the circle and with a step or two you’ll find yourself back in cover.

Will slicing the pie prevent being noticed by a horde of zombies?  Maybe.  Even if it doesn’t, it provides critical extra moments that you can use to react to whatever nasty situation you find around that corner.

Your Homework

Yep, homework.  You get to play GI Joe, or if you prefer, La Femme Nikita or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Your assignment is to practice slicing the pie as you approach corners.  Do it at home, at work, as you walk through your neighborhood.  Practice this maneuver with your zombie survival partners until it is an intuitive habit.

Your most important survival tool is your brain.  Stay smart and stay alive!  After all, you never know what is around the next corner…

Guest Article: When It Happens…

I’m very pleased to have talented writers who want to contribute to  Today we have a guest article from E.W. who gives us some valuable advice on fear when the unexpected happens.  His article follows below.  Enjoy!

When It Happens…
Survival is a complex issue. It can be broken down into two categories, things known and the unknown.  The reason you are reading this article is you want to know more. Lets get to it.
Survival boils down to living to fight another day.  Preparation is the key in any event. The scouts had it right; “ Be Prepared”.
Fear Kills.  If you are well prepared you can lessen the effects of the mind-numbing panty-loading paralyzing fear that the unknown generates and move yourself into “fear is good it helps to keep me alive” mode.
GET READY NOW!!! Currently there are many world situations that can slide us quickly into the collapse of the networks that supply everything that we are dependent upon. As pappy used to say “Get while the getting is good.”
What this means is “provide for every needful thing”. This primarily includes food, water, shelter, medicines, fuel, weapons, ammo, transportation, communication, entertainment, tools and trade goods.
In future articles I’ll address the nuts and bolts approach and the what if situations. In the meantime, if you are serious about insuring that you have a future and are ready to take the steps to make it a reality, then get busy.  The above paragraph cannot be completed in a day and should have been done yesterday.
Start by inventorying items on hand and where they are located, next, build a list of necessities.
Yea, that is a lot of work, survival is hard work. No one will do it for you, everyone will be trying to take care of themselves.
The collapse will happen, none of us really want it to, but it will happen.  The question is when will it happen the answer, too soon.
Will I be ready? Only you know the answer to that.