Do Not Rely On Unsustainable Resources

Many people have seen movies such as Zombieland, I Am Legend, Mad Max, and The Road. If you have not, I suggest you stop reading this and rent them before you no longer have the electricity (due to the inevitable zombie apocalypse) to power your DVD player. In these movies as well as one of my favorite series, The Walking Dead, you see the survivors driving around in cars and using guns. That is all good and well if the breakout has just recently happened. And if cars and guns are what you need to make it through the initial event, then by all means do so. However, there is going to come a point where you will run out of the resources we as a civilization have become accustomed to over our history on this planet. Continue reading

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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!

Colder versus Warmer Climates

Zombie on a skating rink

Ice skating rink = not cold enough!

If you are one of the lucky few who survive the initial zombie outbreak, do not pat yourself on the back yet. Yeah you might be good with a hatchet and maybe you dispatched a handful of walkers with a shovel, but by no means does that make you a battle-worn veteran. Your main objective is to stay alive and not just minute to minute or hour to hour. You want to maximize your chances for long term survival. Most people concern themselves with what supplies and weapons they need and not necessarily where they are going to setup their base camp.

There is only so much ammo that you can find as well as supplies such as clean clothing, food, and fresh water. With the scarcity of these resources the best thing you can do is put yourself in a position to use the least amount possible. That is why the climate you choose to setup shop is so critical. Let’s say for example you are located somewhere in middle America when the you-know-what hits the fan. Heading north into Canada or west to the Colorado Rockies will greatly enhance your chances of making it through alive.

Besides food spoiling faster, flesh rots faster, you sweat more, and smells all around are much stronger in warmer climates. If you find yourself in Miami during the summer and come across a group of walkers, they are going to smell you out in a heartbeat. You will be the needle they find in the proverbial haystack. If you manage to find a way to cover up your human-smell, there are other things to be worried about such as dehydration, heat stroke, and fast moving zombies.

You are going to go through water quicker in warmer temperatures than you would in colder weather. Most of the bottled water will be gone shortly after word spreads of the outbreak. Water is the most essential thing we need to survive, so why put yourself in an area where water is even more scarce? I think you might be able to find sun-tan lotion on the shelves in the stores you ransack, but between the lack of water and heat you face, you are setting yourself up to be someone’s snack.

Now let’s say you take our advice and head to colder weather. For starters you will use less water. If you need to find water there is a much better chance at melting some snow or finding a mountain stream. Now if you go up to higher altitudes, say 5,000ft+, you will need to consume more water than if you were at sea level. However, with the access to more possible fresh water sources, the higher altitude should not play a major factor.

One might argue that you need to have more survival clothing and than you would in warmer climates. This is definitely true, but if you are reading this we know that you have been preparing and stocking up. The extra clothing that you have on and the cold weather will significantly reduce the olfactory glands rotting in the zombie’s face. Zombies that cannot track you by their sense of smell is a very good thing.

There is another benefit to the colder temperatures and that is slower moving zombies. The rotting flesh of the zombies will be exposed directly to the bitter cold, which will cause their festering muscles to tighten up and not be as flexible. Slower zombies means better chance at getting away or taking them out with your shotgun. Your chances of survival long term are increased since many cold weather locations have a lower population. Less people equals less zombies. If you can get to higher altitudes with rockier terrain, that will give you another one up against the zombies since they are not known for their climbing skills.

So right after reading this I will assume that you will be breaking out your maps to search out the best cold climate locations and heading over to the local outfitters to pickup an extra pair of thermals.

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.

-RzRBrN

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: http://americanpreppersnetwork.net/ucp.php?mode=register.  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!