Not all projectile weapons use bullets. Some of them use strings, cables, and plain old upper body strength to propel small, pointy objects at zombie skulls. This section lists all projectile weapons that are not propelled by gunpowder/cordite.
BowsEditThe advantages of these weapons (they're silent, the ammo can be reused) are outweighed by their flaws. They require a lot of training and strength to use effectively, and even then, getting a headshot against a moving target is a highly difficult task. They have a limited range(although longbows can still have a larger range than most handguns), very bulky ammunition, and a slow fire rate. If you get injured, you may be unable to use your main weapon. There's a reason why guns replaced bows on the battlefield - it requires much less training to use a firearm than a bow and arrow. But with training and a good bow they can be very deadly.
The only excuse to use a bow as your main weapon is if your archery skills are up there with Ted Nugent, Hawkeye, Legolas or Katniss Everdeen. Even in a world that's been thrown back to the Dark Ages, with little in the way of guns remaining, you'd be better off using a melee weapon or a crossbow against the undead.
Lastly, for those wondering, explosive arrows are extremely difficult to build or use, are very dangerous in close range, and are not recommended for urban combat, as their nature can actually topple buildings and destroy cars.
The main advantage of a crossbow over a rifle is that it is extremely quiet, and when on a rooftop that is surrounded by the undead, it is a useful tool. When one realizes how well a zombie can hear a distant gunshot, this makes the weapon very useful for someone who doesn't want to confront zombies. Also, it eliminates the main problem that the traditional bow and arrow has as a survival weapon: it does not require a great deal of training to use. (An urban legend holds that, during the Middle Ages, the Pope banned the crossbow from warfare due to it being too dishonorable, as it allowed a soldier who had been trained on it for only a week to easily slaughter knights who had devoted their entire lives to learning how to fight. Obviously, this did nothing to impede its use.)
Like the long bow, the crossbow can reuse its ammo and has a surprising amount of stopping power, capable of bringing down a large bear in one shot depending on the strength of the crossbow and the size of the bolt. Some modern crossbows also allow for the addition of scopes or laser sights. Finally, crossbows are fairly easy for even an inexperienced craftsperson to produce, as is their ammunition (much easier than making or even reloading a bullet). Such homemade crossbows could be used to easily arm a large pool of survivors in lieu of easily available guns.
However, it has a fire rate even slower than a bow and arrow, as pulling the string and loading the arrow takes a few seconds and requires a bit of strength. (While some of the speed issues were solved by the Chinese with the invention of the Cho-Ko-Nu repeating crossbow, the only varients of these you would be likely to find would be in a museum, or a homemade varient, and these weapons were designed for spamming arrows at enemy armies rather than precision shooting. See http://www.atarn.org/chinese/rept_xbow.htm) Also, it suffers from the same problems with bulky ammunition and limited range as the bow.
Only make the crossbow your weapon of choice if your plan involves evading the zombies rather than fighting them outright. For example, if you're going out to scout or collect supplies, the silence of a crossbow can prevent a horde of zombies from coming down on you and following you back to your base.
A sling is a projectile weapon typically used to throw a blunt projectile such as a stone. A sling has a small cradle or pouch in the middle of two lengths of cord. The sling stone is placed in the pouch, both cords are held in the hand, then the sling is swung and one of the two cords is released. This frees the projectile to fly on a tangent to the circle made by the pouch's rotation. The sling derives its effectiveness by essentially extending the length of a human arm, thus allowing stones to be thrown several times farther than they could be by hand.
The sling is very inexpensive, very lightweight, easy to build, silent, and you can find ammo for it practically anywhere. It has historically been used for hunting game and in combat. The sling was the weapon of choice for shepherds in the field due to its usefulness for fending off other animals, and an expert could easily bring down a lion with one well-placed stone. The most famous story of the use of a sling is the story of David and Goliath, in which the child shepherd David, armed with only a sling, defeats the giant warrior champion Goliath with a well-aimed shot to the head.
These may seem like perfect qualifications for use against zombies, but the sling has one critical disadvantage that seriously hinders its use as a weapon. It is highly inaccurate, and even an expert slinger with years of practice will have considerable difficulty hitting a human head at long range with enough force to do any real damage. So unless you are already an expert with the sling (or like David, have God's help), you may as well just throw rocks at the zombies, or better yet, use a rifle or crossbow.
Made famous by the likes of Dennis the Menace and Bart Simpson and used in Games like Earthbound, the slingshot uses the same principle as the sling. The forked Y-shaped frame has two rubber strips attached to the uprights, leading back to a pocket for holding the projectile, which would be useful to launch something like an explosive better than you can do with your arm.
While easier to use and far more accurate than the sling, these advantages come at the cost of power and range. The sling is actually a weapon, the slingshot was a toy originally. Homemade toy slingshots, such as the one above, barely has the power to bruise the skin on a zombie's head, let alone damage its skull. If you were to use it against a zombie, all you would do is get it's attention. However, it is possible to find or make hunting slingshots with enough power to crack a skull. Tactical slingshots DO exist, and loading with frag balls or explosive pellets, can make great support/ medium range weapons.
If modified by shortening the rubber straps and putting on a whisker biscuit, however, a slingshot can be made into a slingbow. A slingbow can shoot arrows and is powerful enough kill a zombie easily. The whisker biscuit can be added using strap ties on the fork of a conventional slingshot. It is recommened that this modification is performed on high powered, steel-framed slingshots with tension grips, as traditional Y-shaped wooden slingshots may malfunction under the tension required to launch an arrow at the speed required to kill a zombie, and tension grips help to keep your aim steady for longer periods of time. Some 'wrist rocket' slingshots have adjustable forks that allow the user to find their 'sweet spot'.
Knives may be readily available, but not all of them are good for throwing. Additionally, it takes months of practice to develop one’s skill enough to hit a target the size of a human torso, even more months to hit one as small as a human head, a year or two to be able to hit a constantly moving head from a safe distance with the ability to puncture the skull, and considerable experience with zombies on top of all that to compensate for the stress of undead survival. Unless you are already a circus-level knife thrower, it’s probably just easier to use a gun.
Also known in the West as the throwing star or the ninja star, these deadly little tools were made famous by the Shinobi of feudal Japan. More or less designed as both a distraction or a way to disable pursuing samurai, these little suckers can kill in the hands of a master. If one has enough skill or time, one can make a basic shuriken out of any flat piece of metal, and most are so small and light that you can fit as many as 25 in one of your pants pockets.
Unfortunately, it takes a master to be able to repeatedly be able to hit a human head with a shuriken, and it is nearly impossible to do so with enough force to penetrate a zombie's skull and destroy the brain. Contrary to what Max Brooks wrote in The Zombie Survival Guide, Shuriken were not designed as killing weapons, but as nuisances and distractions. When they did kill, it was due to blood loss caused by hitting an exposed artery, not by penetrating the skull. In any event, the practice of Shuriken jutsu has long since fallen out of favor in Japan, and there are few masters today that teach it (much fewer than with the fabled katana). In short, shuriken are ineffective weapons against the undead.
These weapons consist of a bb or a dart blow through a tube, originally used by aboriginal tribesmen against European colonists. Although it cannot kill (or even impede) a zombie with it, it could be used to stealthily kill bandits or game. However, practice in both construction of the hose and darts and projectile accuracy would be extremely time consuming. Air rifles use compressed air to shoot small BB at a target that is virtually ineffective against the undead. It is only affective at stunning human targets, not killing them. Another problem is that most air rifles can be made to look similar to a real gun if say, the tip of it is panted black or grey.
A flechette is a pointed steel projectile, with a veined tail for stable flight. The name comes from French fléchette, ‘little arrow’ or ‘dart’, and sometimes retains the acute accent in English. Standard pronunciation is /flɛˈʃɛt/ fle-SHET.
They were first used as an air-dropped weapon in World War I by combatants on both sides. These were about four inches long (10 cm) and weighed a couple of ounces (60 g). Dropped from airplanes or Zeppelins over enemy trenches or airfields, these gravity missiles were capable of penetrating a helmet and the wearer's skull. Similar weapons were 'Lazy Dogs' (or 'Devil Dogs'), used by the U.S. in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. These 1 3/4" length (4.5 cm) bomb-lets were air-dropped at height in canisters by aircraft or scattered from buckets by helicopter crews, reaching high sub-sonic speeds as they fell. Targeted at enemy personnel and unarmored vehicles, the flechette hit the targets with the force of a bullet.
Smaller flechettes were used in special artillery shells called "beehive" rounds (so named for the very distinctive whistling buzz made by thousands of flechettes flying downrange at supersonic speeds) and intended for use against troops in the open -- a ballistic shell packed with flechettes was fired and set off by pressure-sensitive detonators, scattering flechettes and shrapnel in all directions. They were used in the Vietnam War by artillery gunners to defend their positions against infantry attacks.
Another modern varient of flechettes is the flechette shell, commonly used in shotguns, these rounds are a basic 12-guage shell filled with 20 small flechettes. These provide the power a shotgun with the piercing power of a flechette. The other varient that you will more than likely never see is the flechette tank round, this is a large tank shell filled with roughly 8,000 flechettes, fired into the air. They detonate as they reach the top of their arc, firing the rounds into a deadly "steel rain".
These are basically like throwing knives. You need massive amounts of skill to be effective enough with these that they probably wont be useful to you unless used in a more creative manner than throwing or stabbing.