Mêlée weapons (pronounced "MAY-lay") are used in hand-to-hand fighting. Many zombie survivalists promote or even recommend mêlée weapons over firearms. One such proponent is Max Brooks (author of The Zombie Survival Guide), who has written in his book, with outstanding clarity, "Blades don't need reloading." They can range from simple tools to long blades designed for combat. Since ammunition will become increasingly difficult to come by, it is important to keep a quality close-quarters weapon handy. However, using mêlée weapons causes you to run the risk of exposing yourself to infection, either through a zombie bite or blood splatter (although Solanum infected blood solidifies, partially minimizing this concern. Safety goggles and a closed mouth while attacking should protect most melee weapon wielders), especially if you are tired or injured. In addition, while a katana or a scimitar might be great to have during a zombie apocalypse, they're about as useful as bare hands if you don't know how to use them. One should be careful not to underestimate the effects of fatigue while using melee weapons. While adrenaline will endow extra strength and energy, this chemical reaction is an emergency fight or flight response, and will not last long. Only the highly fit should engage in melee battle for more than a few minutes without having an escape plan.
Note: The weapons marked with an * are weapons that are uncommon/hard to find/make in most house holds.
LobotomizerEditThe Lobotomizer or 'Lobo' was a melee weapon in Max Brooks' World War Z. It mainly consisted of the components of a GI shovel with two axe blades on either side. It was designed by the U.S. Marine Corps to combat the zombies, but could be equally useful in real life. Simply take a flat shovel, preferable no larger than two feet long, and weld two axe blades on either sides. It can be used for piercing, smashing, and slashing, though the latter works somewhat ineffectively.
Bludgeons are weapons that do damage through blunt force trauma, or bashing. Such weapons can be found almost anywhere, even if you have to use a fallen tree branch. Finding one that can take repeated punishment of smashing zombie skulls is a bit trickier, but things made from aluminum are both lightweight and durable.
A mace is an type of bludgeon designed to injure through, or cave in heavy armor. Typically, they are heavy weapons used by various nations across the globe during the Middle Ages. Its pronged (sometimes spiked) knob is also capable of breaking even the thickest bones. The flanged mace favored by the Mongolians was so effective that it could literally disintegrate a human skull in a single strike. However, as may be expected, maces are somewhat rare these days. And being the heavy weapons they are, much skill and strength are required to use and carry them. However, if you can find one and have the considerable strength and fitness required to effectively wield it, you have yourself a great close-range zombie-smasher. Just make sure that you have something to protect yourself from the splatter. It would be possible to make a makeshift mace by attaching something somewhat heavy (like a rock) to a thick stick or a metal bar.
*FlailEditThe flail immediately conjures up images from the Dark Ages. A metal stick or ball attached to a handle via a chain, flails were swung in a circular arc and brought crashing down on an enemy's head. Even if they were wearing a helmet, the flail would deliver some serious blunt force trauma, and the helmet could become so distorted that should the intended victim somehow survive the battle, they'd require a blacksmith to help pry the helmet off his head. An even more insidious weapon was the morning star, which had numerous spikes on the ball itself, and when used on an unarmored human head, could cause such damage that most of the brain itself could be flung out of the shattered skull. Over time and repeated usage, the spikes wear down and become nubs, but this does not significantly diminish the damage rendered. However, don't even think of using this against the undead unless you have lots of practice, or no alternative. Even fully trained modern experts wear reinforced helmets when demonstrating these weapons, because the whirling ball is so unpredictable that the user has a very good chance of smashing his own brain in with the thing (note from reader: the morning star is a weapon nowhere near the flail. It is commonly mistaken as a chain based weapon, but this is not true. The morning star is a homemade weapon that consists of a heavy wooden staff usually about 5'10 tall, with iron or wooden nails sticking in and around the top of the pole. It was usually used by peasants in time of revolution or when bandits were attacking locals).
This is a weapon is yet another invention from the dark ages. It was commonly used by infantry to knock horsemen off the horse, and could penetrate the plate armor with a well-struck hit. It has a spiked one end, and a blunt other end. It can be used in many ways, mostly as a weapon, but also a hammer. It is most effective when you know how to handle it as it is quite heavy, but it can penetrate or crush the zombie skull. You have to be careful, because it is often curved, and could get stuck in there. Due to the dark age origins of the War Hammer, it would be difficult to locate one, but if found it should be utilised.
Bō are long wooden or metal poles. Basically an Asian staff, mastery of these weapons began millenniums ago in the Shaolin Temple, in what is now Henan Province, China. From there, their ideas were the basis for other Asian martial arts. Because Asian history is devoid of armies or cavalries donning heavy armor, bashing weapons were reserved for unarmored combat, and piercing and slashing weapons for light armor. As such, bō's are ineffective at breaking bones. Sturdy equivalences or replicas are easily improvised from simple wooden dowels at your local hardware store.
*Kanabō*EditA dangerous weapon from Japan, the kanabō is a heavy, 3–5 foot long club made from either metal or wood, with rows of either round metal studs or spikes running down the length. The main problems with the kanabō are that it is heavy (over 8 pounds), hard to find, and has little to no secondary purpose (unless you are hunting and need a secondary method of putting prey down, which would need to be around the size of a elephant to not be overkill). Even in feudal Japan, the weapon was rarely used by soldiers, instead being more of a weapon for those with major strength who could swing and recover fast if they missed their target. In addition, the kanabō may smash a zombie's head a little too well, splattering infected brain matter all over you like watermelons at a Gallagher show. Also, the studs can come off with enough force, making the weapon less usefull after every fight.
Spiked Stick Edit
The spiked stick is a simple, easily made weapon. It is a tree branch cut into a club shape you want it, and with rows of metal bolts protruding from the sides for bashing zombies heads in. If you want, you can replace bolts with pointed screws to pierce the skull. Cut the club to a desired length for your purposes. The main advantage is that it is incredibly easy to make and can supply a group with an effective melee weapon
*NunchakuEditMade famous by kung fu master and screen legend Bruce Lee, the nunchucks are ill-advised for use in zombie warfare. Nunchucks are designed for use against armed opponents, ones who’ll feel pain, who can be disabled, and will be intimidated and distracted by the lightning-fast and unpredictable movements of the one wielding them. Zombies don’t use weapons, they don’t feel pain, they’ll still try to get you even with broken limbs, and they won’t even notice a spinning nunchuck, let alone be intimidated by it. However, in the hands of a trained user, nunchaku can deliver incredible amounts of force to the skull and effectively crush it in a single blow.
Police batons, nightsticks, and TonfasEditA police officer's baton is specifically designed so that it doesn't kill people, only incapacitates them. It doesn't have the necessary power to crack a human skull however, these are extremely light weight and do not require a long time to recover. Best to ignore these, unless the situation dictates that you get out of an area as quickly as possible, leaving you little time to kill each and every zombie, in which case these would be useful in knocking aside ghouls in your way. On the other hand, the tonfa, made of thick hard wood or metal, is of use for cracking zombie skulls or the solid wood antique police billy club which was used before the less lethal modern variants came out although these are rather rare.
CrowbarsEditMade to be sturdy due to their purpose of prying things open, this is an incredibly useful weapon, and extremely versatile tool as well. Not only can you bash zombies with it, but you can drive either end through a zombie's head to kill it instantly (although you have to be very careful not to get it stuck, especially when using the claw end). They are also quite durable, and are readily available from any hardware store. Finally, the crowbar has a key advantage over other melee weapons—it can be used for its original purpose of prying open boxes, doors, windows, and what have you. Its only drawback may be its limited range. This can be solved by buying a longer crowbar, but the extra weight is inconveniant. Titanium crowbars recently have become available in North America and are lighter than their steel counterparts, yet more than twice as strong.
Baseball batsEditBaseball bats are large clubs of either wood aluminum or polypropylene(polypropylene is the most recommended out of the three, due to the fact that it is virtually indestructible). However, a wooden bat can easily be turned in to a deadly weapon if it is modified with harder iron nails; this is commonly referred to as a nail bat. They have a long reach and can be found anywhere baseball is played (which is to say, anywhere in the United States), and most importantly, they have enough power to crack a skull open in one blow or if you need to cripple it, a good hit in the spine will do. However, actually doing so takes a great deal of upper body strength, as their light weight actually worked against them in this way. Nail bats also have a very high chance of becoming stuck in the skull. For most people, taking a ghoul down should be easy, assuming the person is not suffering from intense strain in a muscle. Because it is so light and cracking the skull takes a powerful swing, it's advised that you only use it if you're fighting a few zombies at a time, or if you're trying to quickly get through a crowd of zombies and don't have the time to kill them. Baseball bats are most commonly found in sporting goods stores and at baseball fields, though they can also be found in homes, often as ad-hoc home defense weapons. Newer polymer bats produced by Cold Steel are becoming more popular and, being next to indestructible and weighing less than 2.5 pounds, will be easy to swing; additionally, if bent, they are easy to straighten out. Bats are very easily found, require no prior experience to become effective, and are very durable and light weight. Because of these factors, they are among the best melee weapons to use.
Golf clubsEditEasily found in homes and sporting goods stores throughout the U.S., these are better used against the living than the living dead. It may be hard to land a killing blow on a zombie, being that the only powerful place to hit with is right on the end of the club. Don't plan on using your lucky 9-iron on an attacking ghoul, unless you plan to make him look funny with that 9-iron wrapped around his neck as he starts biting your face off.
Tennis rackets lack the strength to break the skull no matter what, and they should never be used for a weapon. If nothing else in the general area would be useful, tennis rackets may serve a purpose for simply knocking zombies aside.
Popularized by Shaun of the Dead, cricket bats can be found throughout Britain and other cricket-playing countries. They are similar to the American baseball bat, though heavier and slightly more durable, but with many of the same problems. When using one, consider using the thicker and heavier end to hit zombies with. A good rule of thumb is that the heavier something is, the easier it will crush a skull, although it may take you off balance and tire you out more quickly.
There are light and heavy bats, though the extra speed that can be achieved with a light bat is probably not worth the lower force. Much of the force put into swinging a bat in cricket is used to swing the arms, rather than the bat (as it is wielded in two hands) anyway. A professional cricketer can exert an average force of just under 9,000N on a cricket ball, with the peak being almost double this, and so a bat can exert more than enough force to decapitate or crush.
Pipes are generally to be found anywhere there is plumbing, which is basically anywhere a human would inhabit. There are several varieties of piping coming in a variety of different materials. These include lead, copper, iron, steel and PVC plastic. Ideally, the best piping to use as a weapon would be any pipe with a heavy weight. Steel and lead pipes would be best suited for the task of bashing heads, although, like bats, they still require a great deal of upper body strength. Iron pipes are somewhat rare these days, and copper pipes are typically not very thick. PVC piping should be ignored altogether, because it will break and it is too light to crack anything harder than an egg.
Frying Pans are used for cooking and were made famous by Tallahassee in Zombieland . The frying pan is very common around households and is very heavy, which provides enough force to shatter a decomposed head. According to Tallahassee: "Big, cast-iron, contrary to what you've seen, it won't flatten a face. Buth the feel of it when you hit something chills, your whole arm vibrates. A zombie takes one of these to the head, they ain't getting done.". However, frying pans (aka "skillets") are heavy and take a lot of effort to constantly swing around. They also have a short range which doesn't make it very safe to use against zombies.
Because zombies cannot feel pain, brass knuckles serve little purpose besides knocking the undead out of your way. If you manage to pin a zombie to the ground, you may be able to crush the skull with several blows to the temple. When using brass knuckles, you should wear thick gloves to reduce the chance of injury to your fingers. A more useful version of brass knuckles is actually electrified (no, they're not Galvaknuckles but yes, they are real) and can be purchased on Amazon.com, delivering 950,000 volts of electricity in a single punch, more than enough to paralyze a zombie temporarily.
The way that a carpenter's hammer is weighted makes it easy to drive it through a zombie's skull. However, its short reach means that you will have to get uncomfortably close to a zombie to kill it. Also, you will want to resist the temptation to try driving the claw end through a zombie's head. It may seem like a good idea at first, but you will quickly change your tune once the claw gets stuck and the zombies start taking chunks out of your neck. Consider switching to a better weapon when you find one. If you're fortifying a building, however, a hammer is invaluable for putting up and maintaining defenses. They can be found in hardware stores and in the average garage.
SledgehammersEditSledgehammers are generally used in demolitions and heavy construction work. With a heavy end weighing as much as ten pounds connected to a long two-to-three foot pole, it can bash through a brick wall if given enough time and smash an unprotected skull like an over-ripe pumpkin. However, it is a heavy weapon and requires a significant ammount of strength to lift and use for the average person. Every swing will also take precious time to recover from but assuming you aren't surrounded by zombies it shouldn't matter. As quoted from APNS - "When used against your typical zombie you must be retarded slow if you can't recover in time." An altenative is a maul which is basically a sledgehammer but with one side replaced by a heavy duty axe blade, used for splitting logs.
Sledge hammers on average are 10 lbs. That makes it more tireing and harder to swing. But it is good for breaking doors and weak walls. It is not a very good for carrying on foot, but if you have transportation (Vehicle's 'Land or air') it is a must.
Tire ironsEditTire irons are used to replace flat tires in emergencies by prying the edge of a tire away from a wheel, typically coming in pairs. Since most are made of metal and have both heavy and blunt ends, they are sometimes depicted as ad-hoc weapons (as in the original Night of the Living Dead). In a zombie outbreak, the tire iron is as effective as a crowbar, due to its similar shape. Although it can't pry open doors, it can be used to change tires, which will be important if you're using a car. If you can't find a crowbar, a tire iron makes for a great substitute. (Technically, this item is really a Lug Wrench.)
The current variations are not the best weapons to use against a zombie. Here are the reason's why:
1. Most effective way is overhand, due to the fact with four metal bars sticking out, you can easily hit yourself, if you do overhand however, it will reduce that chance.
2. Due to the awkward shape of the tire iron, it may be hard to swing with enough force to shatter the skull in a single blow.
3. It is a brute force weapon, meaning it should take a fairly strong blow to destroy the brain of a zombie.
On the other hand, the older style, which resembles a crowbar, except for the socket part, can be highly effective, should you be able to find one.
Wooden swords serve the same purpose as large sticks or tree branches. They will probably break before you can shatter the skull, so it is best to aim for the temple when using this weapon. They should not be used other than a last-resort weapon.
*Gunstock War ClubEdit
Traditionally used by the plains Indians, gunstock war clubs resemble gunstocks, but are usually not an actual gunstock. They are still in use today and are produced by companies such as Cold Steel. These gunstock-like clubs are usually fitted with a spike. They can be made of wood or polypropylene, and can prove effective in bashing undead skulls, if you have a good quality club.
Slashing and Piercing WeaponsEdit
Tools meant for chopping through thick material have the advantage of being made for heavy use, which means that they are very unlikely to break when you're using them against zombies. However, most slashing weapons were designed to fell opponents who feel pain, require organs and bleed out. Likewise, piercing weapons are only effective against zombies if driven into the skull - often a daunting prospect in the heat of battle. These weapons technically belong to the same category, though some are more adept at slashing than piercing and vice versa. Although addressed under machetes and axes, some other makeshift choices such as a meat cleaver could provide a back up weapon if there are no better choices. Slightly dull blades tend to tears more. Remember that most of these weapons are no bigger than your forearm and that you must be dangerously close to the zombie.
MachetesEditMachetes are built for cutting through material, such as brush and thick vegetation wood or, as seen in many tropical third-world countries and slasher films, flesh and bone. Equally as useful both a tool and a weapon, it typically requires several swings to penetrate the skull, or one very well placed strike. Reliable skull-rending weapons are typically two handed for additional power and control. As with any blade, it can get stuck in the skull. If one can apply enough torque, through their swing and lateral positioning, hard slices to the neck can sever the spinal cord, permanently immobilizing the zombie; bear caution that, intact, a zombie head still capable of biting. All around, the machete is a very useful weapon. Frequent sharpening may be necessary to keep the machete usable over weeks and months of usage. If one is to use this weapon, they should consider aquiring a scabbard/sheath to carry it in.
Though chainsaws are for the most part absurdly impractical weapons, some electric saws are. Many handheld ones, however, aren't due to the fact that they're too light and have too much traction on a zombie's head. However, a cleaving saw, designed for sawing massive trenches in wood (and skulls) has a single blade about an inch thick and has a sealed guard around it that completely eliminates the threat of zombie's blood and guts from interfereing with the machinery. Also, it doesn't need to be lubricated, due to the fact that a single coat sticks into the rubber liners inside the actual rotors and last for decades. The amount of saw actually exposed is minimal, about that of a waning moon at it's most extreme period. Also, the inclination of the serration in the blade causes all discharge to be flung at the ground and not towards you, like traditional saws do. This effect is further assured by blade guards and handle guards. Most saws, however, use gasoline, which might be in short supply. Otherwise, you can modify your saw to have an electrical input to charge it that way. A ten hour charging period with newer saws generally lasts them about 18-20 hours or work. Another problem is saw's weight, cumbersom gait, and timely startup. But overall, if you have a good build and weigh a lot than you should have no problem hefting around a cleaving saw. Many cleaving saws on top of that also have incredible rotary power, allowing a head to be sawed through like a piece of cake.
A knife is a sharp blade, typically about four to ten inches long, attached to a handle. Two factors limit the usefulness of knives against zombies. First, their short reach requires one to get in close in order to attack, which
presents a great deal of danger. Second, a knife can get stuck in a zombie's skull with difficult means of removing it (a serrated/toothed knife more so), leaving you vulnerable to attack. Arguably the best combat purpose a knife can serve is as an absolute last resort, extreme close-quarters, semi-disposable weapon, to be jammed into a zombies forehead, eye or, best of all, temple. However, although knives are not great against zombies, it is important to keep one on you, as they are great for utility purposes (cutting rope, food, fabric, etc.) and for fighting off bandits.
The Bowie Knife, is a large knife meant for both combat and survival applications. Traditionaly, it features a blade at least 9" long (up to 13-14"), primarily single edged with a short sharpened back-edge (the latter usually concave curved). The Bowie (pronounced "boo-ee") is a very versitile weapon and tool. A long and heavy enough Bowie is capable of devastating bone-shearing cuts which can readily dismember and decapitate humanoid targets.
*KukriEditApparently derived from the ancient Roman Falcata and brought to South Asia by Roman merchants, the inverse curved kukri (“koo-kree”) became the national weapon of Nepal and famous in the hands of the Gurkha soldiers employed by both the British and Indian armies. The forward portion of the blade widens out to provide axe-like cleaving power, but narrows again to provide a serviceable point. For splitting skulls, taking heads, or lopping off limbs, the kukri is many a zombie-killer’s first choice as a battle blade
Many manufacturers and importers offer servicible and affordable versions of the kukri. The inexpensive "issue" kukri requires extensive re-filing of the blade bevels to begin to be useful. Other versions while somewhat more expensive ($60 to $500) offer the advantage of being ready to go right from the box.
Shanks and ShivsEdit
These knives are commonly associated with prisoners. They're effectiveness varies depending on the type of material used. For example, a shiv made of glass is more effective than a sharp piece of plastic, but a sharp piece of metal shov is better than a glass one. these can be made at home and though they're zombie effectiveness is controversial, they can prove effective against bandits
These knives can fold and are compact. They are undesirable though since they have short reach (even shorter than a fixed blade knife) and will break after lots of abuse. Not recommended, even for fighting bandits, though they can serve utility purposes.
Belt Buckle KnifeEditOnly should be used if no other weapons are available, or if taken prisoner by raiders.
A combination of a brass knuckle handgrip with a long spike or knife blade on one end, these are among the best weapons to use if you are forced into close-quarter combat with the living dead. Originally developed for trench warfare in World War I, the brass knuckle can bash a human skull with enough force, and the knife or spike can puncture a metal helmet—to say nothing of a skull—with ease. The trench knife is small, lightweight, and due to its grip, easy to pull out, making it a very effective hand-to-hand weapon. Until recently most of the trench knives that could be found were the poor quality World War 1 models. However Cold Steel (a company well known for their quality) has ressurected the desing. World War I models are extremely rare nowadays and the few that do exist are most likely not in combat condition, due to the fact that they are ninety-year-old museum pieces. If you want a good trench knife, you will likely have to order one online from weapon specialists, such as Cold Steel, before the zombie apocalypse.
In summary, while trench knives are very good for hand-to-hand combat, they can be extremely hard to come by, unless bought online. Currently they are illegal in California, but as always after the fall of civilization, no one will stop you from committing crimes.
KarambitEditKarambits are knives that are mainly meant to be held with the blade facing towards the ground. They would most likely be pretty much useless in a zombie apocalypse because of how close range they are. The blade also usually isn't that long so it would probably barely penetrate the brain anyways. It could of course be used as a tool and to fight off bandits (as it is a relatively concealed weapon)
Katar*EditThis is an Indian dagger originally designed by the Rajput warriors to defeat the enemy. Instead of a normal dagger hilt, there are two parallel straps linked by a crossbar. The crossbar is grasped in the fist, and the dagger is used with a punching motion. Points are often reinforced for added effectiveness in puncturing mail, and would easily pierce a zombie skull. Blades are often made thin with a heavy reinforcing rib up the center of the blade, up to the thickened mail-piercing tip, so the katar is frequently deceptively light-weight for its size, allowing for quicker attacks. Many Katars have a long gauntlet attachment to protect the hand and wrist in duels, and they will also provide good protection from undead jaws. The downside is thay it is designed mostly for thrusting, so there is a considerable trade-off in terms of slashing and chopping potential. Also, they are more cumbersome and harder to carry than your average knife, but the ability to instantly kill with a punch, one of the most basic human actions will be useful. A katar is useful if you happen to own one (or preferably two), but you are at no disadvantage if you don't.
Bayonets effectively allow your medium to large firearm to be used as a spear. Although not as effective as a regular spear, it is conveniently attached to your main firearm for a nice quick backup weapon should you suddenly run out of bullets and start going, "Oh crap, I need a backup weap- wait, it's already deployed!" The downsides are a slight increase in the overall length and weight of a gun, making it slightly less maneuverable in cramped places. Bayonet fighting consists of stabbing, slashing, and yes, even smashing, but most people not trained in this dying martial art will mostly just use it as an extended stabbing stick. A bayonet will prove useful as a last stand weapon due to having it always (usual choice in a zombie situation) equipped. Note that bayonets should be only used as a backup after all ammo have been expended because zombie matter may clog the inside of your barrel as you hack and slash with the bayonet. Remember, a clogged barrel is not a happy place for bullets, and you don't want to be on the bad side of an unhappy bullet. Also at the very least you can take off the bayonet and use it as a regular knife.
it should be noted that manuals are avalible demonstraiting use of the bayonet, specifically these are Hardees' Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics For the Instruction of the Recruit (U.S. 1858) and McClellan's Bayonet Practice; of the two the former is more common. better sources are WWII bayonet manuals, but these are comparativly rare compared to the former which have been reprinted by several publishers. modern military tequniques are all but useless in event of a zombie outbreak, as they almost exclusivly target the torso, not the head.
WARNING: The bayonet was designed to pierce the fleshy torso of humans, not a skull; it is a last ditch defensive weapon only, and should NEVER be considered a primary arm.
Katanas*EditKatanas are the very famous traditional cut-emphasis sword of Japan. Invented in the 11th century AD (as the tachi), they all possess the same basic profile; a two-hand grip, a small circular guard, a moderately curved blade, and (with a few rare exceptions) a long single edge.
Katanas as such have a blade length no less than 24 inches and no longer than 32 inches; shorter swords were legally considered (in the Japanese feudal period) wakizashi and lawful for non-samurai to bear. Longer bladed swords fall into the dai-katana category (32 inch -36 inch blade) or the specialist no-dachi (36 inch - 42 inch blade) which is the Japanese equivalent version of the European Great Sword. A shorter (24 inch blade), more greatly-curved katana known as a chisa-katana was usually reserved for close-quarters indoor combat within one’s home.
While swords were third-priority weapons in Japanese warfare, (bows and eventually muzzle-loading firearms were first priority and polearms such as spears (yari) and halberds (naginata) were second priority) a highly reverential “cult of the sword” developed in Japan through the Warring States and Tokugawa periods. The most sophisticated Japanese sword techniques were actually developed during the enforced peace of the Tokugawa shogunate (1601-1873) when unarmored duels and other informal encounters became the norm of samurai conflict.
A well-made katana can be a highly effective weapon for battling the walking dead. Being slightly thicker than its European counterparts, a katana is therby slightly heavier than other swords of the same length, but this is not very noticeable with the normal two-hand method of use. The katana can easily cut through unarmored targets as long as the proper draw-cutting technique is used. This draw-cutting method is not innate (like linear hitting or chopping is) and requires considerable training to perform consistently, effectively, and safely. A skilled katana user can easily behead a human (breathing or otherwise) with a two-handed draw cut however an unskilled user can easily botch the cut—as Yukio Mishima’s lover-acolyte did during the famous author’s public seppeku. A “mall ninja” who just grabs a katana and starts hacking away at zombies will become zombie-chow in very short order.
During the Japanese feudal period, swords were often tested by cutting several bodies (of executed criminals) in half, the most common being two-body-blades, but going up to six-body-blades. What must be remembered is that test-cutting of human bodies was performed by highly skilled professionals, using extra-long grips for increased torque, and under ideal (non-combat) conditions.
Generally curved swords are more effective cutting tools (Japanese or not) than straight swords against unarmored targets. The katana’s hilt and blade curve reduces the effort needed to produce devastating draw-cuts when combined with the proper hip and shoulder twisting actions (torque) found in Japanese swordsmanship.
Traditional katana blades are composed as 3 to 9 piece forge-welded “sandwiches” of various grades of hard and soft laminated (“pattern-welded” or “Damascus”) steel blanks. Traditional katanas are also differentially tempered so the back and belly of the blade remain somewhat soft and flexible but the cutting edge is very hard (about 62 on the Rockwell scale). “Flexible” must be seen in context; a good katana can be flexed up to 2-3 degrees out of line and spring back to true with no damage, a properly forged European sword can be flex-tested 5-7 degrees with no damage.
While the entire katana edge is sharp, it is sharpest usually anywhere from 3-12 inches from the tip. Some well made katana tips (kissaki) are even comparable to a modern scalpel. This was done to encourage the samurai to keep their distance when using the weapon; this same advice will be helpful in the fight against the undead. Properly forged katanas have a “distal taper” being slightly thicker nearest the guard than the tip; this aids in making the katana stronger nearest the hilt for making parries and aids in balance as well. Traditional katanas use a hybrid-convex blade and edge profile which, when combined with the very hard tempered edge and careful polishing-sharpening, creates a very long lasting, low-drag, draw cutting blade.
The katana is not without drawbacks. A katana has only one sharp edge as opposed to a double-edged European sword; this was primarily meant to allow the katana to block with the dull back to reduce the risk of damage to the blade, though depending on the zombie being faced the second use will not help you very much. The polishing-sharpening method also created a very “porous” blade surface that is highly vulnerable to rusting. The butt-end of a katana cannot, unlike many other swords, be used to strike a hard surface like a human skull—such “pummeling” is very likely to destroy the wood grip in very short order. The 3/4 length katana tang is held to the wood grip by a single bamboo pin—inspections of this potential weak point must be frequent, especially if the katana is being used regularly in combat or practice. Finally, the cloth-cord grip wrapping needs to be periodically tightened or even replaced when ruined by sweat or blood.
The great majority of “katanas” found in the West are not actual weapons, they are mass produced stainless-steel “wall-hangers” that can come apart with a hard swing in the air, let alone contacting a substantive target like a human body. There actually are some very good introductory “use” katanas being manufactured in China—they retail for about $800 and it would take a high-level kenjutsu expert to discern or obtain any actual combat difference between these affordable blades and any heirloom custom made katana.
Overall the katana is one of the best melee weapons against the undead as long as a user is able to learn the basic draw cutting technique. In terms of cutting, many, professionally opinioned or not, consider the katana a great weapon. Even though a katana can last a very long time, it does require cleaning after every fight as soon as possible to avoid damage.
As he has stated at public speakings, the katana is the favored weapon of Max Brooks, writer of The Zombie Survival Guide. Brooks claims that until the lightsaber from Star Wars is made real, the katana is the best melee weapon to use against the undead. Many actual sword experts and aficionados disagree with this gushing assessment.
Wakizashi*EditThe wakizashi is the second sword commonly worn and used by the Samurai. At first glance it is a scaled down katana, since it's a lighter one handed weapon with space for your second hand as well, it would seem that the only advantage the katana holds is being longer. However, katana and wakizashi were rarely made in the same manner, and the quality of even a true to life wakizashi will vary. It was primarily an "honor-blade" for the samurai, used to commit seppuku. However it was also a self-defense blade, samurai were not allowed to take their katana to certain places or in certain buildings, but the wakizashi never left his side. In the battle against the undead, it is a good weapon alternative to the katana, due to the fact that the only difference is length, making this an ideal indoor weapon and even outdoors if you have the proper strengh and coordination to do damage with it.
Considered the claymore of Japan, the nodachi is essentially an over-sized katana. Translating into "field sword", the nodachi was used primarily against cavalry, and could easily cut a man in two. You may be thinking bigger is better, but the nodachi is a very cumbersome weapon to use. Being a field sword means you won't be taking this indoors. It is also so long that you will have a very difficult time pulling it out of its sheath without assistance, samurai always had an assistant to help them draw it. Plus, like the katana, it only has one sharp edge. The katana forging techniques were not always used in it's making either. The weapon fell out of favor even with the samurai who preferred to use a spear or nagamaki. Still, if you are in an open space and are surrounded by zombies, a nodachi's extra length is certainly preferable. The scabbard was also a traditional saya (the Japanese word for scabbard), and it's size makes it impossible to use for taijutsu, the advantage of a saya as opposed to a more flexible leather scabbard. Though weight advantage between the two is debatable, unless your name is Sasaki Kojiro you are better off with a Scottish claymore.
*European Longsword, 1-Hand*EditKnown under the misnomer of “broadsword”, the single-hand longsword dates back to circa 300 BC, created under the iron-working expertise of Central European Celts. With a blade at least 28 inches long (maximum 37 inches) distinguishing it from short swords, the steel longsword represented a metallurgical and tactical advance in weaponry. The combat advantages of a longer cutting sword spurred a slow but steady arms race between European sword and armor development. The 1-Hand Longsword was used in combat, in various incarnations, into the 20th Century (One famous British Commando officer in WWII used a basket-hilted claymore in various raids against the Germans).
Longswords are all straight double-edged swords. The blade profile, depending on period and intended technique emphasis, is either a parallel or a taper (slight or acute) from hilt to point. Points can be rounded and essentially blunt, slightly tapering, or acutely tapered. Until the late 15th century, the emphasis of blade design was on delivering long-range slashing cuts and bone-shearing chops, but thrusting was known and used in combat, as shown in the illustrated 13th Century fectbucht “I.33”.
Several popular myths exist about 1-Hand Longswords, the primary (and totally false) one being they were “heavy, ill-balanced, and edgeless iron clubs”. The weight of authentic 1-Hand Longswords varied from 2 pounds (0.9 kilograms) up to 3.75 pounds (1.8 kilograms—this being for the mail-shearing swords of the Crusader era) with 2.6 pounds being a millennium average. For the intended use of long range slashing, shearing chops, and committed thrusts, these swords were well balanced battle weapons and should not be compared to dueling rapiers and small swords, let alone ultra-light sport fencing implements. The medium to high carbon content of their steel blades meant they could be hardened to a spring temper for durability and they can take a keen “battle edge” (though not has long-lasting as a traditional katana edge a user could easily re-sharpen a European blade, unlike the Japanese sword).
Numerous variations of 1-Hand Longswords exist, including but not limited to the Migration Era Sword, Viking Sword, Norman Sword, Cross-Hilt Type “X”, Arming Sword, Espada Ropera (aka “Cut and Thrust Sword”), Scottish “Broadsword”, and Spanish Bilbo. Often the greatest distinguishing features of these swords will be the design of the guard and pommel; ranging from the “zoomorphic” hilts of the Celtic Iron Age, to the classic cross-hilts of the Middle Ages, into the hand-encompassing basket-hilts of the Venetian Schiavona and the Scottish Claymore.
The devastating cutting power of these weapons should not be underestimated; against unarmored targets 1-Hand Longswords can easily dismember or decapitate with a single strike. An early 20th Century archeological excavation of the Battle of Wisby (Sweden) excavated 14th Century skeletons with horrific bone-shearing injuries; including split open skulls and cleanly severed legs, including one example of a double-leg amputation from a single sword stroke. There is no doubt a well-made and well-swung replica of a 1-Hand Longsword could easily eliminate a zombie.
Like any other replica weapon purchase, “caveat emptor” (“buyer beware”) is the operating slogan when looking for a combat quality sword. Buy only from reputable manufacturers and dealers. Make sure any replica weapon has a narrow tang and not a “rat-tail tang” which is the mark of any “trash sword”. Carbon-steel of spring temper is really the only suitable sword steel; 99%+ of the time stainless steel is too brittle or too soft to be a suitable sword blade material.
Shearing chopping strikes are easier for most people to learn than the coordinated draw-cutting technique of the Japanese katana; however the balance of European 1-Hand longswords can make them slower on the recovery than 2-handed katanas or European 2-handed Longswords.
Technically, the European 2-Hand Longsword category includes all strait-bladed, double-edged Western swords that can be used with two-hands, even if they are light enough to be used with one-hand. The 2-hand Longsword was created circa 1230 AD in an attempt to counter the increasing amounts of thicker and stronger mail armor encountered on European battlefields. With a slightly wider and slightly longer blade than the 1-Hand Longsword and a grip that allowed for one or both hands , the first 2-Hand Longswords were known as “War Swords” (Epee de Guerre) or “Hand and a Half Swords”. These weapons have a blade length from 35 inches to 37 inches and weigh from 3 to 4 pounds. These swords emphasize shearing chops though they can be used to deliver committed thrusts. Even more so than 1-Hand Longswords, their substantial cross-guards and pommels can be used to deliver bone-crushing, organ-rupturing close-in impact strikes.
- European Longsword, 2-Hand
By 1300, heavier and longer variations of the 2-Hand Longswords mandated two-hand use and they are known as Great Swords, which includes the famous Scottish Claymore. These swords have a blade 38 inches to 45 inches in length and weigh 4.5 to 5 pounds. With the gradual adoption of plate harness (armor) by medieval chivalry and men-at-arms throughout the 14th century, more slender, thrust-oriented 2-Hand Longswords were developed with blades from 36” to 38” long and just over 3 pounds in weight. These weapons are simply known as Longswords and became very popular in the Germanies and Italies, and numerous fectbuchts (fight books) were written for their use. By the late 15th Century, the Bastard Sword, an even more slender and very nimble Longsword became popular.
The ultimate inflation of the 2-Hand Longsword is the true Two-Hand Sword of the Renaissance period (1490-1640). These specialist weapons had blades up to 60 inches in length, very large guards, and weighed from 6.5 to 8 pounds.
2-Hand Longswords (especially the lighter variants) can easily be used and carried by an individual of average weight and strength to cut through zombie flesh and bone. Most long swords come double edged so care must be taken not to cut oneself while using it, but as with any weapon, training and knowledge is critical. There are publications available on-line for German and Italian longsword: it is recommend you read and practice proper technique. About as much maintenance, cleaning and sharpening, as a common-variety machete is required to keep the blade in working order. Western medieval martial arts are enjoying somewhat of a rebirth, and vendors on-line offer functional, 'battle ready' longswords.
- European swords in general are easily attained at curiosity shops, collectors’ fairs, and private ownership vendors throughout the entirety of the United States. HOWEVER, there are a lot of cheap knock-offs out there that are as battle-worthy as a wet noodle. For openers, replica swords frequently have a 'rat tail' tang, a small diameter tube concealed by the handle. Make sure the sword has an authentic narrow tang. And finally, forget about any longsword blade that is stainless steel; it's great in kitchen prepping dinner, but sucks as a sword. Stainless steel is either more brittle or softer than carbon steel.
*Short SwordsEditIdeal for fighting zombies within indoor conditions or in enclosed spaces, the short sword is an excellent back-up weapon. While you do have to get close to a zombie to get a kill due to its short length, its small size allows easy carrying options and conceal-ability when you’re on the run. Good examples of competent short swords include the Roman Gladius* or the Spartan Xiphos. Though these were often used behind shields so don't go in feeling these are the only weapon you'll need. Also, many newer variants of shortswords now feature a straighter blade, and are titanium-bladed, while integrated with lead for a crushing, slashing blow that largely eliminates the possibility of it getting stuck in a zombie's head.
- Even replica Gladius swords are hardy, battle tested, and usually extremely well-made.
| The following section makes claims that are disputed.
Check the discussion page for more information on these disputed claims.
Sabers are curved swords originaly designed for use by cavalry troopers and officers. A shorter bladed version, known as a "cutlass" or "hanger" was designed for sailors, marines, and enlisted infantry soldiers.
The primary emphasis of a saber is slashing and cutting at enemies whilst mounted on a rapidly moving horse (because thrusting tends to be difficult and ineffective while mounted) A cutlass excells in the close confines of boarding actions against enemy vessels.
A saber or a cutlass can be a very effective and versatile cutting and thrusting weapon--be it vs zombies or anyone else within reach IF one chooses an effective saber design (such as the British 1796 Light Cavalry Sabre pictured above) and IF it is properly sharpened. It was only sabers designed after (circa) 1850 that started to become less an less effective and deadly weapons and more and more mere symbols of rank (The US 1860 Light Cavalry Saber, manufactured by the Ames Factory, was a notoriously bad design). Sabers (or hangers) were often left in a unsharpened condition to avoid cutting the user during practice (in pre-antibiotic eras a strong consideration). When unsharpened sabers or hangers were historicaly used in riot control, bloody but very shallow pressure cuts ensued, leading to the myth of the "dull ineffective saber".
With an effective saber a person of reasonable strength can easily cut off limbs, split human skulls, and decapitate heads. Actual test cutting has proven this assertion beyond any doubt and the historical record (such as the British cavalry against the French during the Battle of Waterloo) backs up this claim.
Several affordable and effective sabers (sabre, alternative spelling) are availible through mail order. Additionaly, in certain countries, they can be found on the walls of manor houses as well as museams.
With a strongly curved (and sharpened) saber, "draw cutting" is near automatic, not requiring the coordination of muscle and timing needed in a two-hand katana draw cut.
Talwar*EditThis is the classic Indo-Persian saber. However, it incorporates several features that may increase its utility over the standard saber. First, many tulwars are thicker at the end of the blade than at the hilt, making them somewhat "point heavy". This means that it takes less effort to make a good chop. Second, while the spines are often thick, the edges are frequently hollow ground and VERY sharp - great for spitting a zombie's skull. And the pommels are generally tipped with a short spike that can be used as a last-ditch skull crusher. Some tulwars, especially ones from the Punjabi region, also incorporate sturdy knuckle-guards that can double as brass knuckles in a pinch (see "trench knife" above). Avoid late 19th-early 20th century "arsenal" blades, as they are often poorly tempered junk. Plain, unadorned early to mid 19th century specimens can often be obtained for a reasonable price. Ignoring the forging that goes into the swords, the Tulwar is similar in shape to the katana but has more curvature and a straight hilt.
Essentially a foil or a rapier, these swords came into popularity after advances in firearm technology made heavy weapons and armor obsolete. To anyone who has seen a fencing match, you'll know just how fast these things can be. However, these swords are absolutely horrible to use against zombies. First off, IF you can find a fencers sword, it will be blunt and filled with wiring.(for competition, many are wired for electronic score-keeping; these include competition foils, epees, and sabres. It would be easy to tell the difference between a well-known and easily recognized sporting good and a surplus antique or faithful reproduction) They lack the power or weight to sever bone, the weight to crush a skull, and the stabbing and slashing motions it was designed for will have little to no effect on your undead attacker. The only possible killing strategy would be to stab a zombie through the eye followed by an agile twirling motion to scramble the brain like an egg. Even master fencers will find this maneuver next to impossible - there is only one recorded successful in the field. The length of the rapier will make it difficult to draw in close spaces as well.
Various Other Bladed WeaponsEditOf course there are a lot more swords and other bladed weapons that don't fall into any of these categories, most of them being fancy or weird, but yet still battle ready swords that are available online. Some have weird hooks and spikes that may get caught in skull or clothing, but still seem relatively effecient.
Pole Weapons date back into prehistory, based on the concept of doing damage at a safe distance. There are many kinds of pole weapons, and many are practical as a primary weapon against a horde of zombies. However become useless in cramped spaces.
- "PERSIANS! Come and get them!" -- King Leonidas, Battle of Thermopylae
The spear is one of the most basic of human weapons. Spears with flint heads were first used by Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man over 10,000 years ago, and were later used to great effect by Greek and Roman infantry in the classical age. Today, most spears are relegated to ceremonial roles, or are used by indigenous tribes in remote corners of the world.
The spear offers a great range advantage over other melee weapons, with some exceeding seven to eight feet, and they are as easy to create as sharpening a broom handle or duct-taping a sharp object to the end of one. However, one can only stab with a spear, and once a zombie closes in, the spear becomes less effective. Most spears are metal tipped with a wood shaft, metal or plastic is not advised. The only practical ways to kill a zombie with a spear are penetration through the eye socket, or under the jaw, into the brain. These are still very difficult thrusts. Where the spear excels isn't as a zombie killer, but controller. Spears with attached crossguards can neutralize a zombie at a safe distance. A line of infantry wielding spears that disallow the zombie forward advancement can neutralize many zombies while another survivor could terminate the incapacitated zombies safely, and quickly.
Throwing a spear like a javelin is not advised, as it is nearly impossible to hit a target as small as a human head. Groups with spears can greatly multiply the melee effectiveness of their group, as they can impale and detain a zombie, while another can focus on the kill, especially when using Boar spears, which have a cross piece part way up the shaft to prevent the zombie from continuing towards you. Two recommended varieties from antiquity are the Greek Dory and the Japanese Yari. The spear tips on these are nearly a foot or two long, and are bladed on either end, giving one more slashing options in a fight (although it still takes some skill to pull off a decapitation). In addition, the Yari's bladed cross section not only aids in decapitation (thrust into the throat and keep pushing), it also allows one to better push back approaching ghouls and keep them from working themselves up the shaft. The Dory as used by Greek Hoplites has a knob at the end which is used as a blunt-force weapon, though most spears have these to counterbalance the weight.
Pike A pike is basicly a spear with a short sword as tip.
Halberds and Pole Blades*EditBills, voulges, pikes and Jis essentially fall into the Halberd category, just in different shapes. A halberd is a combination of a spear and a poleaxe, with a long sharp point on the top, a curving blade on one side and any number of hooks, spikes, or blunted edges. The halberd was originally a preening tool adapted for use against armored horsemen, with the numerous pointy ends designed to catch a rider’s cloak and drag him to the ground, the ax blade, spikes and spear tip for puncturing through plate armor and chain mail, and the curving edges and hooks designed to pry and cut off armor plates like a can opener. When used on an unarmored head, the halberd can easily bash open a skull and decapitate. Obviously, this makes it sound attractive as an anti-zombie weapon, but keep in mind that any hooks and spikes could get stuck in a zombie’s skull or snagged on one’s clothing, and it shares the same disadvantages in enclosed spaces as all pole weapons. The halberd can also be used to cut fruit off trees and move certain objects around high places. Combining the cutting power of a curved sword with the reach of a spear, the Pole Blades are highly recommended if you are in an open field. Naginata, Guandaos, Glaives, and Swiss War Scythes fall into this category. Although ineffective against chain-mail and plate armor, the chances you'll encounter a zombie with anything more protective than a construction helmet are slim at best.
The naginata for example, which is essentially a katana on a 7-foot stick, has been proven to be able to decapitate up to three human targets in a single lightning-fast swing, and can easily cleave off a skullcap, so you can imagine how useful they can be against zombies, though even if you are native of Japan, these weapons are not usually produced, you would need to have connections to have one made or need to find an antique, and since in fell out of favor in favor of the Yari, they will be significantly older than any given katana, and will likely have poorer blades. A similar weapon is the Guandao, allegedly invented and named after the Chinese hero Guan Yu, and although larger and heavier than it's Japanese cousin, has enough power to cleave a man in two. However, you should switch to something shorter when indoors or other confined spaces, since their effectiveness is reduced to stabbing. Realistically, unless you are a trained expert with these weaponry, the extended reach will only afford you increased inaccuracy in a high pressure situation. The ability to use these weapons as a swinging rather than stabbing tool is exceptionally rare, and without this ability these weapons have few advantages over a spear. However, the training required is rarely year-long.
JavelinsEditJust as old as the spear, the javelin is a small, narrow, lightweight, spear-like weapon designed primarily for throwing. Most javelins are smaller in size than spears, with narrower bodies and heads. They were originally designed as hunting weapons, but later became military weapons. They evolved over time with the spear, and were used by many ancient armies, as well as by such societies as the Aztec and the Zulu. Javelins continue to be used today, namely by aboriginal tribes in remote areas of the world as a traditional weapon, and for recreational and sports purposes, with the Javelin Toss a recognized Olympic event. At first glance, the javelin is identical to the spear. However, to make a proper throwing weapon, the javelin must be properly weighted, or it will fall short or be inaccurate. This makes it much more difficult for the lay-person to craft, as for most the art of making a javelin has been lost. However, sports javelins made of lightweight composite materials are something of a specialty item in most sporting equipment stores. Even then, it requires a good deal of skill to throw with accuracy. The javelin can be very difficult to use as an anti-zombie weapon. While utterly silent, it is very difficult to hit a target in the head with one. Also, while a low-quality but reasonably effective spear can be created using household objects, a javelin requires precise crafting in order to fly far and be accurate. Overall, unless you are a skilled expert and are engaging a small number of zombies, it is recommended that some other weapon be used, such as a suppressed firearm or crossbow.
Shaolin Spade*EditThe Shaolin spade is a Chinese weapon consisting of a long pole with a flat, bell-like blade on one end and a smaller, crescent-shaped blade on the other. In pre-Communist China, Buddhist monks often carried spades (shovels) with them when traveling. This served two purposes: they could bury any corpses they found with the proper Buddhist rites, and they could defend themselves against bandits. Over time, they were stylized into the monk's spade weapon. Extremely effective against the undead, as the crescent-shaped blade can easily decapitate any ghoul, and since this requires thrusting rather than slashing, it's effectiveness doesn't drop by much when indoors. However, you are even less likely to find one of these (battle-ready or prop) than most other medieval weapons, unless you are a Shaolin monk.
PickaxesEditPickaxes are tools used primarily in agriculture, mining, and stone-cutting. The iconic pick-axe is a two-pronged tool with a flat spade-like end and a spike. However, most are simply two "picks" or a single pick. Its history extends to prehistoric times. It's no longer used as a mining tool in most countries, who opt to use machines and explosives. However, it is still used as a home utility tool for digging in compacted earth. Although either end can do serious damage to a zombie if used to hit in the head (or a human, to anyone who has seen My Bloody Valentine films), their relative rarity these days, coupled with their heavy weight, make them generally undesirable. However, if you really want one, you might find them in home improvement or gardening stores. Of course, since those are typically located in cities that are full of the undead, you might want to avoid them.
Tomahawks are small light weight axes, they have the cutting power of a hatchet and most have a pike end. These are one of the best weapons in the right hands. The cutting edge is pefect of severing an infected neck and the pike is excellent at peircing a skull. They CAN be thrown but a kill with a thrown tomahawk is very difficult and should not be attempted. The tomahawk is also a fantastic multi-tool if the right tomahawk is chosen. A RMJ Tactical is by far the best on the market. They can be used to break locks, shatter windows, tip a car open like a tin can, chop through concrete blocks (seriously.....check it out on Youtube ),puncture tires, tear down walls, cut down saplings, and even dig holes. The only downside is that they don't have very much reach and may become stuck in the head of a infected.
An axe can prove to be a very deadly weapon in the right hands. They are
meant for cutting through thick, heavy material, which is why loggers and firemen alike still use them on a daily basis. They can easily split a human's skull in two with a single blow, in addition to their long reach one can alternatively use the spiked end to plant in a zombie's skull, depending on the type of axe. However, they are also fairly heavy, depending on how old your axe is. Newer axes are often made of ultralight materiels and can be found almost anywere. Particularly notable are the double bit axes which have two cutting edges. They can also be used for decapitations on zombies for a helpful strike or blow on an enemy.
HatchetsEditHatchets are like small axes. Overall, this is a much better cutting tool than a zombie killer. While much easier to wield, even the strongest of survivors will be unable to penetrate a skull without several extremely crisp blows. Decapitation might be easier, but only marginally so.
*Bearded AxesEditBearded axes are a large Saxon axe with an exaggerated beard that tapers out to a point at the bottom. The traditional weapon of the Saxon huscarl they have a large amount of power and can cleave a zombie skull easily as long as you have the necessary upper body strength. The pointed beard can also be brought down into a zombie skull for a very effective killing method. However these weapons can tire you easily and the long shaft makes it less effective in close quarters. These weapons are also far less common than a regular axe or hatchet.
Poleaxes are basically a small two bladed axe on a very long stick. Poleaxes were originally designed to cave in or punch through a medieval helmet making them very effective zombie killers. Obviously there is some open field potential to decapitate zombies with such a weapon but there are many problems that would be detrimental. For one there are very few if any in existence and those are probably show pieces. Secondly they will require a high level of skill to use well and a long stick will break over time due to the centrifugal forces associated with such combat.
ChainsawsEditThanks to movies like the Evil Dead series and video games, many people immediately think of chainsaws when they think of great weapons for killing zombies. This mentality will get a lot of people killed. Despite the much-needed morale boost you may get from wielding one, chainsaws are among the worst weapons for putting down the undead. A chainsaw is a complex machine, and as a rule, any machine with many moving parts should be immediately discounted as an effective melee weapon against a zombie. They're heavy (usually 10 lbs.), they're loud, they can get jammed with zombie guts, they create splatter that can get in your face and infect the wielder. They can easily cause injury to the wielder (as seen in the Dawn of the Dead remake, and the reason why loggers who use these wear special clothing), the chain can break easily (there are gruesome stories of loggers who lost limbs when the chain snapped and flew off because of a simple nail embedded in the tree by an eco-terrorist), and when they run out of gas or batteries, there's as much remaining killing potential as a handheld boom box. These disadvantages should be taken into consideration more when fighting large hoardes, as many zombies push against obstacles, even when going around them would be more efficient, they would try to push up against you. Even a strong, experienced user would have a risk of the blade being pushed against them. The chainsaw itself would surely take some damage from bone and gore pieces hitting the chain, and the power source may deplete before you can finish them off.
Finally, the "scare effect" of fighting a chainsaw-wielding lunatic is completely lost on the unfeeling undead. Also, the chainsaw in terms of killing power is a tad overkill, and requires some effort on the part of the user to cut into a zombie's neck or head, and pulling the weapon out after the kill can be difficult due to weight and often panic caused by the numerous other zombies swarming over you. In short, a simple club or sword is recommended over the chainsaw, despite the infamy bestowed upon the device by Hollywood and slasher films.
Also, don't go swinging the noise-making-zombie-gut-spewer like a maniac as you can spew your own guts out.
Another drawback (as proven on Zombie go Boom) chainsaws have a tendency to stall on clothing.
Just remember that chainsaws run on gas. So if you have no fuel its a basically useless, and it's loud which makes it a terrible weapon for stealth kill, and the chain can get caught on clothes which is also bad, even though good for cutting tree's, one would might rather use a quieter tool to do it, such as an ax.
This could be literally anything you decide to use as a weapon in times of desperation against the undead. The most important thing to consider when choosing an improvised weapon it the object's ability to crush the skull. Aside from that, it is also important to consider the weapon's weight and how quickly you can recover from missing an attack. If this is the only weapon you have, don't let it go, but if you have something better it's dead weight. See also: Improvised Weaponry