Guest Post: Eli Constant and B.V. Barr #SummerofZombie

THE Z BAG:

HAVE GEAR OR DIE!

Thousands upon thousands of articles have been written on the best equipment to buy for the up-coming apocalypse.  We have seen numerous heroes run into stores and fill their packs with equipment before the hoard arrives. But what really works? Hollywood has a unique way of taking the cheapest junk or the latest fade or the biggest backer and making it THE THING to use at the end of the world. But will whatever it is work? Probably not, but it looks sexy and that’s what counts right? WRONG!

The Z world requires equipment which is durable, reliable, and effective. This means that most of the stuff touted by Hollywood gets flushed down the toilet. In combat, a soldier has the ability, most of the time, to get re-supplied by the rear echelons. So running out of the essentials is academic. Only in extreme situations will a combat soldier actually run “dry” and have to throw rocks. In a real Zombie situation, however, running out of ammo is a real threat, so we will tackle that first.

Probably the most discussed and argued point by survivalists and Z preppers is what type of gun to carry. No one can argue that a firearm is the most effective weapon against the hoard or other baddies trying to take advantage of the situation. A gun allows a person to engage multiple targets at range and since the population of the US is around 350 million this attribute may come in handy when half begin turning into the stumbling dead!

Of the great survival weapons, the AR, AK, and Pump Shotgun reign supreme. Of the short guns (handguns), the Glock (along with all the other double stacks) and the venerable magnum revolver are at the top of the list. But are these the optimal choice in a Zombie end of times scenario? Well, it’s a little more complicated than yes or no.

Although no one knows exactly how it will go down when the Z’s finally arrive, we can all agree that the world as we know it will change dramatically and one of those changes will come in the form of power loss. Grids will go down in a cascade, like the one we experienced in the South West a few years ago leaving everyone in the dark and without power. Since the US has combined all the grids into one massive infrastructure, it’s improbable that one area or township will avoid this fate.

Without power, rapid transit will soon follow, then automobiles, and that’s when the real problems start. As portrayed in all the movies and written in all the books, most survivors eventually end up on foot and that means burden carrying. Here in lies the problem. Most people can comfortably carry between 45 and 65 pounds. Anything over that begins to decrease mobility and coordination. Weapons and ammo, you will find, weigh a lot and the bigger the round the heavier weight…simple math.

So what weapon(s) do you want to carry when the time comes to reduce these problems? What will combat the issue of a lot of targets vs. necessary weight restrictions? Well, for your rifle, you will want a high quality .22. Yep that’s right, the little .22 rifle. Long forgotten and set aside to bring home rabbits for stew. Loaded with the correct round, they can be devastating to the head of a Zombie and that’s the bull’s-eye point, right? Considering that the CCI stinger leaves the barrel at around 1600 feet per second and dumps 190(ish) foot pounds of energy into its target, it’s understandable how this little pea shooter can become a Z survival weapon!

Then there is the weight issue. A “brick” (five hundred rounds) is about the same size and weight as a full box of 3” 12 gauge OOO buck shot, which has only 25 rounds. You do the math- 500 rounds will last a lot longer than twenty five and carrying 4 bricks of .22 (2000 rounds) gives me a real chance of getting out alive. But only if the weapon is capable. This means it must be clip fed for rapid reload and, most importantly, reliable. With these two things as my guidelines- clip fed, reliable- then the Ruger 10/22 is the rifle for me!

As far as handguns are concerned, well that’s a little different. A pistol is a close in weapon, and basically one step up from you knife. Since they are close quarters weapons you may want a little more punch as you may not have a lot of time to aim and you want every “nick” to count! In addition the ammo for most defensive handguns weighs a lot more than the .22 so you will be taking less, or sacrificing something important like toilet paper! Also handguns tend to take a lot more abuse than their big brothers when in battle and may need replacement parts such as mainsprings, locking blocks, or even barrels. Yes, even barrels, if even a small amount of debris gets into the tight quarters of a handgun it can cause the barrel to “bulge” and that ain’t good in the long run.

So for this constant-carry weapon, you need to go one of two ways. Extremely durable or very common (something easily repaired, replaced) and that leaves you really only a few choices- to fill the common end of the spectrum the Glock 21 and the Beretta M9 (92) are your best choice. Why? Well the Beretta is the current military sidearm and the Glock 21 is the most common law enforcement sidearm- both give you access to ammo, magazines, and parts, from the deceased or recently undead. Both of these pistols are accurate and reliable and also where Hollywood got it right being seen in a lot of major productions.

In the durability category two weapons stand above the rest and their made entirely out of steel. They are the venerable 1911 and the little known Bersa Thunder 9 from Argentina. The 1911 has shown its worth on countless battlefields around the world and made famous by both its durability and its stopping power. If you question the 1911, then ask yourself one question. “If the 1911 isn’t as good as advertised, then why is a weapon that went into production in the early 1900’s still used on some missions by the special forces in the early 2000’s?” You’d think after 100+ years they would have found a better option, right?

As for the Bersa Thunder 9, it is a black sheep and little-known except by people who live and breathe firearms. The Thunder is the standard issue pistol of the Argentina military and police and is slowly vying for first place in the South American gun market against Taurus. It is an all-steel, Superman tough, ultra-reliable sidearm which merits praise. The design is basic with external safeties and slide release and is double-stacked with 17 rounds. However, don’t let this “standard” design fool you. The Bersa Thunder 9 is videotaped and recorded on YOUTUBE pumping out 1400 rounds non-stop without a jam or failure of any type. The barrel was so hot they had to pour water on it during the live fire to keep it cool! Now, that’s a Zombie Survival Tool!!

Outside protection with ballistic weapons, you need two reliable tools- an ax and a knife. Both of these can be pressed into the self-defense role when needed, but they are better designed for long term survival. The ax is simple. It has to be functional, transportable, and durable and the one which qualifies is the Estwing ¾ axe. It’s smaller than its big brother but bigger than a hatchet and indestructible, made entirely of tool steel. From the head down to the grip, it is one piece of Zombie slaughtering Iron!!

 Estwing is one of the oldest companies around which is all-American and still produces their products here and, although that may not mean much to some, it does show that their products are quality enough to maintain a price point without moving overseas. Quality COUNTS! However, quality doesn’t have to mean expensive. Although, the Estwing ax is made of tool steel (as good as it gets), made in America, and has a lifetime guarantee, they still can be found for under fifty bucks. To get a quality Apocalypse item for under fifty bucks is as simple as going to Home Depot. That’s Awesome.

The knife is a little more personal, but may be the most important tool you have. It stays with you 24/7 and will be required to do a myriad of things- from opening cans to building fires so it has to be high quality and tough. Never assume that a brand name company produces a quality product, so do the research and don’t think that a custom, handmade knife will cost you more than a big name brand one off the shelf will. If your knife fails you, then what? Guess you will be “procuring” or using granny’s kitchen knife. So choose wisely.

Knives are basically made up of two types of steel- stainless and non-stainless. Without boring you with details, stainless knives require less maintenance while carbon steel knives are tougher. Field-grade stainless knives didn’t even hit the shelves until the 80’s with the availability of 440 surgical steel. However they were brittle and prone to snapping. Since then, the knife industry has been trying to perfect stainless to increase its strength while maintaining its weather resistance. However, if the carbon knife is made of good steel such as D2 tool steel and forged correctly, it can be just as weather-resistant and infinitely tougher than its stainless brother. Although knives of this quality are more difficult to find, definitely not at a big box store, they are out there and not as expensive as you might think (especially for an item on which your life depends).

There are a few high-quality knife producers which do merit mention. First is Black Jack (only the ones made in the USA though), any design from this brand will serve you well in the upcoming disaster. Then there is Randal, known for their handmade quality and their associated high price tag! Finally, there is the USI CATS series in D2 tool steel. These are special order, handmade knives that take up to 6 weeks to get. However, they span the cost vs. quality gap by giving you a sexy, indestructible tool with a lifetime guarantee at an off the shelf cost. It is the first choice in Zombie survival!!

After you have your personal protection figured out- weapons, ammo, ax, knife- you need something to carry it all in and this is one of those NEVER LET HOLLYWOOD CHOOSE FOR YOU rules. Regardless of how many shows I watch or books I read, they never get into the meat of what it is going to take to truly survive. They always beat around the bush, sticking to the action (which is fine), but then ignoring the basics as if we all inherently know them. One of the basics which is commonly ignored within fiction, is the type of pack you will need for all your goodies. There really is only one criteria for selecting a survival pack and that is DURABILITY!

If your pack fails you when a hoard of Z children are chasing you, then you will either succumb to their vicious little bites or lose everything you own. Neither is advisable. So a quality, bomb-proof pack is a Z survival must. We all have the special operations units to thank for the super selection of indestructible packs designed/produced over the last few years. Companies like Blackhawk, Condor, 5.11, Mystery Ranch, and Maxpedition all make good quality items and have a great selection. Made from between 500 and 1000 weave denier nylon, these packs will survive anything Mother Nature (or un-nature) can throw at them.

A couple of things which makes these packs so good, besides the material, is the stitching. Most of them have between three and five lines of stitching (with two being the minimum) and all corners and stress points are boxed or row stitched for strength. In addition, many of the seams are glued for added strength. To increase the durability and limit the possibility of a “blow out,” most of these packs have buckled straps in place to take the load off the zippers. All in all you can’t beat an “operations” pack!

 From the expensive and amazing quality of the Mystery Ranch systems to the budget-minded Condor line, there is something for everyone in this list of companies. Just remember not to get caught up in the hype or fashion of retailers. Go tough, your life WILL depend on it!

For more information on how to survive look up Universal Survival Innovations and buy the book The Prior Preparation Planner available on Amazon and Kindle. Good luck and good Zombie hunting!

-B.V. Barr

 Dad Bio pic

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

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