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A firearm is a weapon that fires either single or multiple projectiles, propelled at high velocity by the gases produced through rapid, confined burning of a propellant. Firearms are powerful, and indeed most are highly effective weapons against the living dead, even at range. However, firearms have their drawbacks. Users are required to carry ammunition and frequently maintain and clean their weapons. Firearms are also loud, require time to reload, and are inaccurate in the hands of an inexperienced user. A suppressor will reduce the noise of a gunshot, but contrary to what is shown in Hollywood movies, suppressors do NOT make guns completely silent; in most cases, the gun will still be as loud as a jackhammer. A person (or zombie) in the vicinity with normal functioning ears will be able to hear a suppressed gunshot.
The availability of firearms varies in different countries. If you live in America consider yourself lucky, because the estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in the United States is 270,000,000 to 310,000,000. So you should have no problem obtaining one. Also depending on where you live, states like Arizona, Texas, and Wyoming where gun ownerships are high, owning a gun pre-apocalypse is about has easy as getting a bag of groceries. If you live in other countries like Japan, Britain, China, Korea (both North and South) or Singapore, where gun ownership has more restrictions or is outright banned, you're going to have a harder time finding one.
Before you even begin to think about using a firearm in a zombie apocalypse, you need to ask yourself three questions:
1) Do I have the skill, know-how and information needed to correctly use, service and maintain this weapon?
2) Does this firearm work for me, my style of attack, and my way of protecting myself from the undead?
3) If I find myself in a situation where I do not have the the ammunition or other resources to keep my gun working, do I have a good backup weapon to fall back on, or enough people in my group to keep me safe until I am able to start using my gun again?
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, you might want to reconsider using such a weapon.
Regardless if you personally decide to obtain or use a firearm, you should inculcate rigorous safety rules in any situation where they may be present.
Famous defensive pistol expert Jeff Cooper (1920-2008) summed up firearm safety in 4 absolute rules:
1. "There is no such thing as an unloaded firearm. The only firearm you may consider unloaded is one you have personally checked and has not left your hand. The moment it leaves your grip you must consider that it has magically reloaded itself."
2."Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to see destroyed. In regards to pointing an unloaded gun, see rule #1."
3."Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target."
4."Always be sure of your target and what is behind it."''
When choosing a firearm, it is always advised that one selects a weapon that fires a common ammunition type and has low to medium recoil. High-powered rounds will strain the shooter, and exotic ammunition may be difficult to find during a crisis.
Common types of firearms include: