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!

Weighing in on Ammunition

So you are planning to survive the necropocalypse, huh? Do you have enough ammo? Are you tough enough to carry it? If you want to keep your thoughts from being food for zombies, here is some food for thought:

Ultimately, the game plan for anyone in the zombie apocalypse is pretty simple: Keep from joining the undead. So when it comes to planning the ammo in your field pack, there are 3 main considerations that must be *weighed* when loading up your zombie kit:

1. Weight- you need to make sure that you are not wearing yourself out carrying huge loads of ammo that may wear you out faster than you can shoot it- making your carcass a looter’s ammo cache.
2. Quantity- On the other hand, you want to make sure that you have enough ammunition so that you don’t make the classic ‘last man standing’ move that is so popular in Hollywood zombie movies.
3. Quality- Lastly, you want to make sure that you have the firepower to stop any large game or cleanly remove the medula oblangata of any zeds that may be thinking of inviting you for dinner.

I have compiled a small list of ammunition that you are most likely to use and encounter in your struggle for survival, so here is a simple table of rounds per weight ranging from lightest to heaviest with a few observations to help you on your way to better packing:

138rds/lb 22LR – lightest
38.25 rd/lb .223
38.25 rd/lb 9mm
28rds/lb 7.62×39
28 rds/lb .40 S&W
21rds/lb 45ACP
21 rds/lb .308
11 rd/lb 12 Ga OO –heaviest

Here are some interesting observations: You may have noticed that each rifle cartridge generally had a corresponding weight in a pistol cartridge. So according to this, .223 and 9mm may be the best value in what is considered combat loads for weight/round count.

As you will also notice, the larger shells are not taking you as far, with 12 Ga buckshot being your least weight-effective round with lethal ability. More on that later. So here is where the hard questions start coming in. How much weight can you realistically carry, or should carry in your time of need?

Tired or praying? Maybe both?To answer for that, keep in mind that most soldiers in field operations in Iraq carry 6 loaded mags into combat(along with a lot of other gear that gives them backpain, according to NPR). That is 180rds of 5.56, and approximately 4.5lbs. Less than you thought? Well, you also need to keep in mind that they are carrying at minimum 40lbs of other gear with them including food and water, and that you likely will be too- so while carrying more than 10lbs of ammo with you at any given time is not impossible, it may reduce your ability to outrun a horde of hungry brain-eaters.

Make sure that you choose wisely in your decisions on how much of what ammo to carry, and hopefully we will see you on the other side of the Necropalypse. On second thought- probably not.


Zombie Combat Technique: Slicing the Pie

Slicing The Pie

Zombie combat techniques are key to surviving the coming necropocalypse, so we at ZombiePrep.net 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…