Hey peeps, this is Smiling Wolf - I'm an admin of the Last Stand Wiki and I also love PMG; I use it all the time and when I found this place, I thought I'd drop by and contribute some of my creations!
Being an overall zombie fan, I've been thinking about what kind of cool weaponry I would like to scavenge if ZSHTF should happen, and that it would give me a good excuse to use PMG as it was intended - to be a close-to-real-world weapon builder. So here are some of my choices for either my backpack or my underground shelter!
Feel free to add your personal opinions and suggestions for the arsenal in the comments.
Note: I am not a gun owner; the stuff written here is purely conjecture and made in the interest of good fun, and though I might not cover all points, my opinions are all derived from good research. I also do not take responsibility for any reader's real-life gun-related decisions - wise or unwise - that may result from reading this article.
Basic Canadian Laws Edit
Us poor canucks will be forced to deal with the aftermath of these laws in the zombie apocalypse, which also determine what I've put on the list:
- Center-fire and rimfire handguns can hold 10 rounds max in the magazine. Must have a barrel-length no less than 105mm (~4.13 inches) to be allowable for commercial sale.
- Center-fire rifles can hold 5 rounds max, but "pistol" mags that can hold more are allowed in any mag-fed designs.
- Shotguns and rimfire rifles have no capacity limit.
- Certain guns are banned due to cosmetic features - mostly anything resembling an AK.
FN SCAR Mk. 17 / 17SEdit
Of all the modern military small arms that are available today, the SCAR-H would be my top choice of tacti-cool survival rifle; should I live in a "perfect" world and the undead apocalypse were to ever occur while I'm in North America.
Yes, I know it's a Modern Warfare rifle, but my reasons for desiring it are real, as are the reasons why I'm not going to be getting one any time soon.
I don't expect to have all the "gizmos" on board when I pry one of these out of the cold, dead hands of a Green Beret or Navy SEAL, but I can hope to have at least a few basic accessories: such as a scope/reflex sight of some kind (with the longest battery life if possible), a sling, a good flash hider, and a good foregrip. Any barrel length will be fine - as long as it's not damaged or bent. On an off-the-rack 17S, I would just keep it slick and mount some rail protectors and a long-range scope.
I have to admit that these are a little... well, "optimistic", but since we're dealing in the realm of science-fiction-horror I'm willing to partake in certain liberties.
Both these first two dream guns have an extended handguard installed to give me more room to grip, and therefore help me control and manipulate the rifle better. It'll also get my hand out of the way of that pesky charging handle (which we'll cover later), and allow me more space to put on accessories, not to mention give the gun a more snug and streamline look. The first setup would be my ultimate all-around workhorse, with a comfortable AFG and that sweet-looking ELCAN SpectreDR with the variable zoom - a sight I'd probably want for all my tactical rifles. The laser device on the front is mainly just to look cool, though it does have a infrared light and laser that may help me shoot better... but the cool points definitely come first. The next setup would be my "watchtower" rifle, a hunting rifle, or a SPR to help me scout out dangerous locations and/or snipe at Zed and other enemies, yet still be something slick that I can shoulder quickly and shoot on the fly.
There's also been recent developments on aftermarket lower receivers; designed to take very ubiquitous SR-25 pattern magazines, which will solve one of this rifle's most major gripes that will be mentioned later. Certainly rare and expensive (and as of now requires an expert gunsmith to put together), but it would be an item any survivor will appreciate on their post-ZSHTF SCAR-H.
High Versatility / Modularity / Ergonomics Edit
My main reason for choosing this SCAR model is that unlike older battle rifles (such as the G3, FAL and M14), the SCAR-H (along with the SCAR-L) was built to be a highly versatile platform right out of the box: there are an assortment of detachable barrel lengths available, and it has integrated picatinny rails for mounting all sorts of accessories. Combined with its slick AR-15 style ergonomics, lightweight yet rugged construction, lower recoil and ambi-controls, the weapon stands alone in the battle rifle category; resulting in a nimble package that can be used either outside and indoors, that's accurate and can hit hard at any range, provides great firepower, and can be kitted up any way you'd want.
This SCAR model fires both the 7.62mm NATO cartridge used by most western militaries, and the popular .308 (Winchester or otherwise) round used in countless hunting rifles, which means abandoned military bases and outposts don't have to be my sole sources for replenishment.
The SCAR series is reputed to be a very reliable weapon system: users have tested its mettle in combat (notably by SF in Afghanistan), competitions and shooting classes, in all sorts of environments with thousands of rounds fired, and the general consensus is that the platform just keeps on chugging. This can be explained by the design of the piston operating system - which bears a close similarity to the AK's.
Field-stripping and maintenance is a breeze: its basic components can be taken down with almost no tools, and there are very few parts that require looking over when you have them all spread out. Even simpler is the manual of arms, thanks to the reciprocating charging handle, which novices will find intuitive and provide a no-brainer experience that is - again - almost similar to an AK.
Ease of Carry/StorageEdit
The gun has a versatile adjustable/folding stock, allowing the rifle to be adjusted for personal comfort. When folded, it makes for a compact package that's easy to stow in your backpack, vehicle, or lockup. You'd probably not want to fire the weapon with the stock folded, but it is otherwise a great feature to have when you're on the move and encounter environments where you don't want a long rifle getting in the way.
The Charging HandleEdit
The knob on the reciprocating charging handle stops close to where your fingertips would be on the forearm, so those with a tendency to put their thumbs up will painfully learn why they shouldn't. And given how high the channel is on the receiver, pulling on it may cause your hand to slam painfully into the mounting hardware of certain optics. Orienting your doodads appropriately and/or switching over the handle will help, but you'll still have to deal with a moving piece of metal/polymer that might snag on you or the environment.
The Shoulder StockEdit
The stock that comes standard with the SCAR is reported to be rickety and known to break in certain places - the reason being that it's mostly made of hollow plastic. Some aftermarket solutions have been made to solve this problem, but it remains a major one when you consider the following:
The SCAR series uses a lot of proprietary parts that are manufactured in Belgium and a single plant somewhere in the U.S. (as of present day), which are sent to wherever SOF guys use these guns. This means that repairs or parts replacement will be impossible should any aspect of your SCAR ever break; unless you happen to live near the factories, people, or military installations in question.
Biggest turnoff of the SCAR-H by far is that magazines are very scarce: they're proprietary and always in short supply (especially to civilians), and it is likely that the military is hoarding most of what's available. Aftermarket magazines have recently appeared but their quality (as of late) is said to be really terrible. In all likelihood, be prepared to end up with a high-end single shot rifle.
After now seeing several years of service, the SCAR-H has also garnered a reputation for wearing out and breaking optics: caused by the unique recoil impulse of the heavy bolt carrier, which vibrates the gun in such a way that - over time - it rattles the insides of whatever scope or sight is mounted on top. Whether or not it's fact or internet myth, for survivors who are ammo conscious (and thus live longest) this problem is unlikely to happen. Some high-quality optics have also been designed to withstand such abuse, so keep an eye out.
The military/police version is expensive and issued exclusively to SWAT teams and elite Special Forces guys, and the civilian-legal 17S model is no different; the ~$3000 price tag alone is enough to scare away demand and keep their numbers low on the shelves, and thus the wasteland. The fact that it's also banned in Canada doesn't help.
The SCAR-H being such a well-conceived, versatile and heavy-hitting tacti-cool rifle with unique looks, it's a shame that it's so exclusive to those with deep wallets and elite shoulder patches; otherwise - with a modded lower receiver - this would be the coolest gun I'd want to carry against the Zed hordes. But unless DELTA force decides to join my survivor team or they happen to perish in front of my house, I'm not going to bother scouring the continent for one of these unicorns.
Not Recommended: really nice, but way too exotic.
Colt Canada C7A2EditAs a resident of that big friendly nation up north, the C7A2 is my most feasible choice of tacti-cool survival rifle; a slight upgrade of a M16 clone (the C7A1) with features that long preceded what you boys and girls in the U.S. eventually copied: such as a stiff cold-hammer forged barrel; a flat-top rail receiver w/ removable carrying handle; picatinny/weaver mounting points and ambi-controls. This model is currently the CDND's standard-issue assault rifle.
The common standard for most Canadian soldiers is usually just a bulky rubber ELCAN C79 scope (exact model not shown) mounted onto the receiver to replace the detachable carrying handle, but I'm willing to work with this setup if that's all I can find. I've also seen other variations with a drop-in rail beneath the handguard for a folding VFG, and EOTechs w/ or w/o backup sights in place of the ELCAN, which I've tried to simulate here as well. Then there's the tiny sections of pic-rails below the triangular front sight - the "TRI-AD" - where I would most likely attach some kind of tactical light.
The basis here for my ideal configs is to simply replace the plastic handguard with a RIS/UIS type; preferably something that's light weight, free-floating for increased accuracy, and has a top mono rail for added rigidity - as well as give me tonnes more mounting options for accessories. With a long scope, bipod and match semi-auto trigger, the rifle would then be great as a DMR (first) so I can pick-off multiple Zed quickly and accurately at any range. My primary go-to-war setup would likely have a versatile EOTECH/flip magnifier combo (second). The final (third) solution would be to just Magpul the crap out of it - all for that trendy high-speed low-drag feel.
It's the standard rifle of the Canadian military, so it's highly likely that the firepower will come to you. If not, there might be an Army Reserve regiment somewhere near your area; dozens of which are in our country operating close to the cities. This means (fortunately for us) that wherever there's a base full of weekend soldiers, there's likely a ready cache of military weaponry close by waiting to be liberated. Factor in the typical scenario of martial law, and a vast horde of Zed turning it to shnitz, the odds of picking up a C7 amongst the gore or elsewhere increase ten-fold.
A new commercial variant - known as the SA20 - has recently been released by the same manufacturer, but only time will tell if these rifles will become more available to pluck; with quality up to snuff.
The C7A2 can go semi and full-auto, sports a long barrel for accurate shooting at long range, and can be maneuvered in tighter spaces when the buttstock is collapsed. No frills, no spills, it's a pretty basic yet flexible rifle built for the common infantryman; and Canuck survivors by extension!
The M16 manual of arms can be a little daunting for a greenhorn, but it remains one of the fastest and slickest platforms to load and bring into action - the benchmark by which many modern assault rifles have been based upon. The C7A2's adjustable buttstock enhances user comfort to personal preference, and the ambi-controls - the mag-release, selector lever and charging handle - adds to the rifle's flexibility; accommodating both left and right-handers, as well as anyone who has to switch shoulders in a fight.
Excellent Modularity Edit
The TRI-AD below the front sight lets you mount lights and lasers, and sights and scopes can be mounted onto the flat receiver, together allowing for some adequate modularity (and at low government cost!). Should you be able to find them, there is a vast plethora of aftermarket mods that can easily be swapped/slapped onto the weapon for an infinite amount of customization.
The platform's reliability is surprisingly underrated: many of the issues touted from the Vietnam era were mostly due to poor ammo and training, and recent tests have shown modern AR-15s being able to chug again after bathing in dirt, sand, snow, or even mud. This is due to the gas impingement blowing any obstructing crud off the bolt carrier and ejection port, and the rifle's sealed design which keep the internals protected from the environment; further helped by the port's dust cover. The M16-length rifles are also said to shoot the most reliably of all the variants - being what the .223/5.56 round was originally designed for.
AR-15/M16 rifles are widely touted for their parts commonality; thanks largely to the U.S. gun industry, OEM and aftermarket components for this platform have become quite abundant here in North America. When the hordes hit the street and every uniform and invested gun owner is forced to come out with their arsenals, you're bound to find whatever you'll need to fix or outfit your C7. It helps that the upper and lower receivers can be swapped between weapon systems - changing the rifle entirely to whatever your needs require.
Like all M16/AR-15s, the C7A2 accepts STANAG pattern magazines, which you can expect to find in abundance from LE and the military, and from a wide variety of aftermarket manufacturers. Having plenty of spare mags means you can afford to dump the ones that break or wear out, and that your C7 will always be in the fight.
If western militaries really did try to do their jobs against the hordes, then 5.56 NATO stashes should be abundant for the picking - if they haven't been picked over already. The former presence of police forces may also add to this cartridge's ubiquity, and civilian .223 should also work fine - though the mil-spec chambering might result in varying accuracy.
The nature of the C7's operating system - called "direct-gas impingement", used in a majority of M16/AR-15s - means regular maintenance must be observed. To describe in brief, the weapon works by having the hot gasses of a discharged round being blown back into the breech via a narrow tube above the barrel, which cycles the action for subsequent shots. This design helps reduce the weapon's overall weight and complexity, but it also creates a lot of powder residue and gunk that settles in many areas inside the receiver. If grossly neglected, this stuff can cause the weapon to malfunction. The C7 is by no means a whore, but it will definitely need some close attention whenever check-up time arrives.
Ergonomic Tradeoffs Edit
The light adjustable stock combined with the long barrel makes for a front-heavy rifle. The barrel also poses some problems in CQB when you consider the nature of your undead/infected enemy: generally mindless, aggressive, and will want to engage you teeth-to-hand, therefore this rifle may not be the slickest of options when exploring those dark creepy corridors. Then there's the forward "TRI-AD" rail: placed very far forward, it makes the controls of any lights or lasers (especially those without a remote switch) quite difficult to reach - not to mention make the rifle more front-heavy.
Limited Rail SpaceEdit
Out of the box, you don't get much rail space to play with, so your accessory choices are quite limited until you can find some mall-ninja doodads to swap in. Not something most survivors will be concerned about, but having some well-placed hardware on your rifle may give you an edge when you most need it.
It's not the most innovative, nor the sleekest, nor the most "tacti-cool" of assault rifle designs, but if survivors learn how to do some basic cleaning, the C7A2 will serve as an excellent addition to one's post-apocalyptic arsenal; a ready-to-go workhorse suitable for any task, which also offers a huge platform for your own personal touches.
Very Highly Recommended
Colt Canada C8A3 Edit
Here we have the C8A3 carbine, once known as the SFW (Special Forces Weapon). Probably the most flexible of the Colt Canada C-series, it packs many of the same features of its bigger brother, the C7A2, but in a smaller package. This choice might seem a little redundant, but I like it; our boys on the ground love it; the Norweigan, Dutch, Dane and Brit SF guys overseas love it... so why shouldn't you love it? Eh?!
Like the C7A2, the setup options out of the box are pretty basic: flat receiver for mounting sights, short "TRI-AD" pic-rails below the front sight for lights/lasers, bulky ELCAN scope (again, exact model not depicted) and plastic BUIS coming in as standard. Not much deviation to be seen here.An extended aftermarket forearm would make this a really handy patrol rifle; the extra real-estate provides more gripping room for improved muzzle and recoil control. The alternative would be just to have a simple carbine-length RIS/UIS forearm if the former proves to be incompatible with the barrel design, though I'd still look for a top monolithic rail for that extra bit of rigidity and accuracy.
The C8A3 holds some slight advantages over the out-of-the-box M4: the barrel is cold-hammer forged and has a thicker, less anorexic profile for higher accuracy and toughness; the snout-like sleeve at the barrel's front serves as a stronger mounting point for a M203 grenade launcher (should you need it); then there's the factory-integrated ambi-controls, and the TRI-AD rails for a little extra modularity.
The thick 16-inch mid-length barrel makes the carbine adaptable for both CQB and distance shooting, and while not perfect in either respect it does give the survivor good flexibility for a relatively short firearm. The weapon also benefits from any attached accessories for adapting to different situations and user preferences.
Features an adjustable buttstock for a personalized length-of-pull, and slick AR-15 controls with ambi-enhancements, which can make any right/left-handed apoca-clown a smooth operator.
Rails on the receiver and on the forward TRI-AD allow for some basic accessorizing, but the platform otherwise allows for a large array of aftermarket bling, which is quite plentiful here in North America. It also accepts all SOPMOD accessories like the American weapon, and performs with such today with Canadian soldiers and various European paramilitary/special forces units.
Tightly-sealed design, not many complex parts, with the modern gas impingement effectively blowing any crap off the ejection port and bolt carrier. It's not impenetrable, and not as forgiving as an AK, but the platform is still capable of overcoming most field conditions and continue chugging.
Being of the M16/AR-15 family, critical components, upper/lower receivers, stocks, etc. can easily be replaced or swapped from the many similar guns that can be cannibalized, and from the large quantity of parts that may be available post-ZSHTF. With a good stash of spares and some occasional cleaning, this weapon will last for a very long while.
The rifle accepts all STANAG pattern G.I. and aftermarket magazines, which you'll have no trouble finding here in North America or other NATO-friendly deadzones.
5.56 NATO is the standard cartridge of most Western militaries, so it will be worth your while to grab whatever rounds you can from abandoned armories, blockades and anywhere else our men and women in uniform once tried to protect us. Civilian .223 can also shoot through it, but performance may vary.
Compactness / Ease of CarryEdit
At little more than two-and-a-half feet in length with the stock fully collapsed, the weapon is handy to carry and shoulder and is easy to store away. Its overall compactness also makes it a perfect fit for survivors with shorter arms and/or statures, who will generally have trouble wielding longer-barrelled weaponry.
Covered before on the C7A2 - it uses the same direct-gas impingement design, which blows gunk and other fouling inside the rifle, which (if badly neglected) can lead this precious firearm into eventually becoming a fancy paperweight. Thorough check-ups are a must.
Aside from Canadian combat footage from Afghanistan, this gun hasn't really been seen anywhere else. Here at home the C7 is king, so expect troops fighting off the hordes in the streets to be carrying more of these instead.
A new commercial variant - known as the SA15.7 - has recently been released by the same manufacturer, but only time will tell if these rifles will become more available to pluck; with quality up to snuff.
Limited Rail SpaceEdit
This issue is lessened somewhat by the rifle's short length, but the lack of overall rail space atop the receiver and in the short TRI-AD can impede one's accessory options. Not essential for most survivors, but having more ways to mount your essential hardware can be a plus.
Weird Barrel Design Edit
As mentioned before, the barrel's odd snout serves as part of the proprietary mounting system for Canada's version of the M203; unless a survivor knows how to find, install, and properly use the device, the weight this extra metal adds to the front end is probably something most can do without.
The C8A3 is a rather odd duckling, but it is still a decently packaged mil-spec carbine, and with at least some basic knowledge of the platform survivors will find this handy rifle a very potent and versatile weapon against any undead or bandit threat.
Recommended: if you're living in beloved Canada.
AK-47 / AKM / AK-103 EditFor obvious reasons, I guess it was inevitable that I'd introduce the iconic AK-47 series onto this long list; the Soviet Union's most infamous export, which has shed more blood than any other firearm in the history of mankind.
Most of you would probably choose an AK as your primary rifle (and with good justifications), but one also has to look into why they probably can't.
A typical AK has wood/plastic furniture and no rails, but that does not make the weapon any less desirable. Frankly I'm not a fan of the odd and outdated Soviet/Russian-made optical bracket attachments that the state factories offer (which aren't exactly common anyway), so if given a choice I don't think I'll ever put these on my gun.
Thankfully, modern modular accessories do exist for the system and their variety is growing steadily. One of my basic preferences would be to replace the stock forearm with a short RIS/UIS design; put on a small lightweight red dot and some kind of foregrip, and it's ready to rock. On the first setup I also have some magazines taped "jungle style", but only to keep around base for emergencies. There is otherwise a large variety of SOPMODed and custom AKs out there that I would definitely want for my soviet-zombie cache.
Excellent Reliability / DurabilityEdit
Its most legendary attribute: run it over with a truck, drag it through all kinds of crap, neglect it in some hole for months, launch it into space and then have it come back so you can pass it on to your children. It's not invincible nor maintenance-free, but you can count on it being battle ready when you pick it up again.
In its intended form, it is a select-fire rifle that can engage close to medium range man-sized targets with decent accuracy, and can even be pushed out to long range with enough skill. It fires a short yet powerful cartridge, and the gun is sturdy enough to be used as a deadly bludgeon in CQB. A solid weapon system overall that can fulfill many roles, short of being a precision rifle.
The rifle's controls consist of only a few tactile levers and a trigger; less perplexing than fiddling with fancy buttons, so even the dimmest ape can work the setup easily. Field-stripping is a breeze and there are very few moving parts to clean; no special tools are required to do either. These attributes are purported to be why one can be completely trained in this rifle within hours while other guns would require at least a week, rightfully earning the AK its moniker as "The People's Gun".
Very High UbiquityEdit
AKs (specifically "AKM" variations) are absolutely everywhere: millions (reportedly over 100 million) of these guns have been manufactured over the course of almost seventy years - good guys and bad guys use it, dozens of countries equip and manufacture it. The arms market - legal and black - is so overwhelmed by AK variants that in some places you can reportedly "buy one for the price of a chicken". With even the factories overrun, any country prior to the apocalypse that had loose gun restrictions and/or an AK-equipped force are going to have these rifles in abundance; one or several of which could become yours!
Plenty of AKs means plenty of people making ammunition to feed through them. Surplus military ammo is cheap and stockpiled around the world, and is used in other collectible and civilian-legal firearms, so stock up what you can.
AKM mags are very tough, and countless of these have piled up over generations of reliable service. Their many aftermarket descendants have also added to their already large numbers: from hard metals to modern plastics and polymers, there are many flavors to help keep your AK in the fight.
The AK-47/AKM design has been copied the world over, so if you got some parts that need replacing, certain components made for another AK from country V, W, or X might fit in your AK from country Y (although some tooling may be required on your part).
These are not light puppies: they're mostly made of steel (including most of its magazines) and they shoot a fairly large caliber bullet, so you should better be in shape or you're bound to do some heaving.
Varying Availability (1st world)Edit
Your local/national gun laws will dictate how easy it will be to see and obtain an AK; as it stands, many Western countries don't use AKs and have largely banned the weapon from being sold to the public (the U.S. being an exception, of course). That doesn't stop illegal AKs from slipping into said countries, but would-be-apocaclowns living in the 1st world will still have a harder time acquiring one of these fine rifles. The only reason why I'm considering an AK is because of our proximity to the U.S.; with the very slight chance that some may find their way up here.
With millions of AKs out there to be found, there is certain to be a lot of lemons among them; many might be hand-me-downs that are old and overused; many might be broken or bent and look like they've been jury-rigged in somebody's garage; or maybe a bunch of them are just, quite simply, crappily-made. A survivor in the right/wrong part of the world will no doubt have their "pick of the litter", but they'll likely have to sort through all the other runts first before they can get to it.
The AK's lever-type control scheme is pretty crude by modern standards, and thus requires some reaching around and a little more sweat to work quickly under fire. Inserting magazines can be particularly distressing as they require a specific "rocking" technique that survivors can easily fumble if their hands get shaky. The standard factory pistol grip is also very small and narrow, which can be trouble for most average and large-sized hands.
The Charging HandleEdit
With every shot fired the charging handle reciprocates; which means having a piece of metal sticking out that moves back and forth and can possibly snag on stuff. It is the AK's biggest liability, so be aware of it.
Handguard Overheat Edit
The AK's piston system is notorious for causing the forearm of this rifle to get very hot after extensive shooting. Gloves are recommended if you don't want your dainty digits to become chicken tendies.
A stock AK without pic-rails is what you're going to discover in most countries, as the design has been slow to evolve compared to other platforms, and aftermarket mods have only started coming out for it recently; most of which are being made in the U.S. Some models might have the left-side optical bracket installed, but that forces you to use proprietary Russian/Soviet mounts and scopes that you may have difficulty finding.
Poor Sight DesignEdit
The iron sights of an AK are considered serviceable, but not ideal - the short radius and coarse picture makes it difficult to acquire targets accurately, notably at longer ranges. A well-built rifle with good aftermarket sights can otherwise be pretty accurate, but if you can't find or install them this drawback is something you'll just have to bear with.
The standard military-issued rifles were intended to be used in full-auto from the outset, and given that this mode is the first notch on the selector, there is a risk that some timid novice (or completely-immersed CODtard) is liable to waste precious ammo and/or inadvertantly mow down their companions. If it's not a civilian-legal model, always make sure your mates push that selector all the way down.
This is one of the first guns I've ever had the pleasure to shoot, and it is certainly one of the most dependable and rugged small arms you can have to defend against marauding bandits and the undead hordes. Unfortunately I (and I assume most of the PMGers here) live in the developed world, where the AK is seen as anathema. America on the other hand - thanks to its bloated gun culture - is close by and won't be subject to these issues, though they are subject to the fact that the AK is a very obvious choice; if you don't have one, you're going to have a really, really hard time getting one.
Not Recommended: if you're in Canada!
Highly Recommended: dependant on location/laws.
M1A seriesEditThe vintage battle rifle for the every-man, the M1A, is as deadly as apple pie is American. Although it's semi-auto only, it's functionally not much different from the original M14. Sporting some old-school looks, ample long-range firepower, and a battle-tested lineage, let's see how "tacti-cool" this Cold War dinosaur really is.
The default rifles typically have no pic-rails, but they do come in different lengths and custom brands, and aftermarket parts are available for the platform:
If I have to sling up one of these boom sticks for the long haul, the shorter-barreled "SOCOM" or "Scout" model would be my pick for its easier handling. With a full-length M1A, I'd supe it up into some kind of DMR for watchtower or sniping duties.
And of course, having played too much MGS4/MW2 in the past, dropping the gun into a tacti-cool - though chunky - EBR chassis seems like a good idea as well; but from the numbers I've been reading and just by looking at it, the setup doesn't seem to make the weapon any more ergonomic nor lighter.
With a historic pedigree that avoids most "assault weapon" bans, and thus becoming the only Cold War battle rifle we can legally purchase, it's understandably a popular item for many Canuck shooting enthusiasts. Expect at least a few examples (from a variety of manufacturers) stocking some shelves and armories across our great white north!
The M1A/M14 is reportedly a great performer at long range, inheriting much of its capabilities from the M1 Garand (made by a Canadian, btw!) while enjoying all the benefits of a detachable and much larger magazine. As a survivor you can use it to hunt, defend your base camp, and blow away multiple Zed and nasty bandits rapidly at any distance. When things get really up close and personal you can probably clobber someone with it too.
The .308 cartridge is fed into a lot of hunting rifles around the world, and its originator - the 7.62 NATO - is put into just as many machine guns and battle rifles. Both these rounds should work in the M1A/M14, which doubles the chances of your magazines being topped off.
Reliability / DurabilityEdit
Like its predecessor, the M14 design is built like a tank: heavily-machined steel parts, a robust operating mechanism, and its sturdy furniture allows the weapon to continue chugging through lots of wear and tear (though there are caveats, which will be covered later). Civilian M1As should show similar levels of quality.
Modularity / Parts AvailabilityEdit
As a popular and mass-produced platform, spare parts are abound to keep this rifle banging. Aftermarket doodads are also widely available for survivors to help kit out this long gun: from special scope mounts, fancy mall-ninja stocks, to match triggers, extra pic-rails, muzzle devices, etc.
The rifle is long and bulky, the breech area has many sharp edges that can snag on gear and clothing, and the shoulder stock does not line up with the bore, so recoil will pull the gun upward - making quick follow-up shots a little more difficult. Mounted scopes and red dots will ride very high on the weapon, requiring a cheek riser to be installed for a proper eye relief. Like the AK, loading the rifle uses the same "rocking" method that is easy to fumble under stress. Finally, there's the clunky control setup - particularly the sharp, awfully-placed safety in the trigger guard - that can hamper your tacti-coolness when seconds count.
Weight and Size Edit
Fully-loaded, a survivor will be looking at porting over 12 pounds of lengthy steel and wood/fiber glass; add to this the weight of the extra steel magazines, the thick ammo, and any attachments, and you'll have a warhorse that will be a pain to haul across a Zed-infested landscape or into a desperate fight. Shorter-barreled variants will offer less hassle, but it's only slight.
Maintenance / ComplexityEdit
Under harsh conditions the weapon can be a PITA to maintain: the old design has complex moving parts, and many exposed nooks and openings that can allow mud, dirt, sand, etc. to enter and interfere with the mechanics. Field-stripping the rifle is a clunky affair, and cleaning the weapon can require many specialized tools to be done properly. The wasteland is unforgiving, so it will serve survivors well to keep this particular rifle out of the muck and grit as much as possible.
The Charging Handle / Operating RodEdit
This part reciprocates and thus can snag on stuff, and the open channel it slides through is vulnerable to any kind of obstruction (which can include your fingertips if you're not careful); not to mention it serves as an entryway for all kinds crap that will likewise jam the gun. Keep it clear and stay out of its way.
Parts / Accessories Incompatibility (Canada) Edit
A unique problem for M1As in Canada is that parts and accessories do not always fit on every individual rifle; this is due to many of the rifles circulating here being license-made in China and Taiwan with varying levels of finish. Therefore, some hand-fitting may be required by survivors to do any kind of repairs or modding.
The M1A is certainly a beast to wield, and some of its qualities may be a little oversold, but it is still the best and most accessible option for Canuck survivors seeking a hard-hitting semi-auto military rifle for all their hunting and zombie-slaying needs. At least for those able to lug the darn thing around...
Recommended: if you've eaten your spinach everyday.
AR-10 / SR-25 series Edit
The AR-10 pattern of battle rifles predates what eventually became the AR-15, and later the M16. The Knight's Armament Company's SR-25 design is a modern subset that has established the popular standard for the type. From military sniper variants to the many commercial models being sold to civilians, they're still going strong... but are they tough enough to withstand the rigours of the zombie apocalypse?
Very much like their .223/5.56 descendants, this platform comes in countless configurations, so I can't say I have any personal preference aside from the basics: a long-range scope mounted on top, and that the rifle runs on a piston-driven gas system (as opposed to the standard direct-impingement). If I have to be even more picky, I would seek out the mid-length carbines for their versatility and compactness.
Potential survivors in North America will be spoiled for choice: various companies continue to produce large assortments of hunting, competition, military-style, and sporting versions of this rifle for the LE/commercial market, and various NATO-friendly militaries (including that of the U.S.) still deploy a number of the old and latest SR-25 iterations for their snipers.
Common Magazines Edit
SR-25 mags come in large quantities and are made by numerous aftermarket brands - including the highly prolific PMAG line. Many AR-10 rifles have also been adapted to take these mags.
Common Ammo Edit
Barrel food is more than plentiful: .308 Win and 7.62x51 NATO are widely used, and are so similar in make and measurement that both civilian and military firearms eat them up equally well.
Most commercial and military models are meant for long range work, but the semi-auto firepower is a big help in closer fixes, and there are also carbine versions that you can more readily use in cramped conditions. With either type, you'll get an accurate hard-hitter that's among the lightest and most nimble battle rifle designs currently available.
AR-15 style controls and ergos make handling and manipulation slick and fast. Shooters used to the AR-15 platform will thus find this design quite familiar, making cross-training much easier.
Many designs now come with flat-top rails and RIS/UIS forearms right out of the box. Certain AR-15 components and aftermarket bling can also be used on many of these guns, giving apoca-clown tinkerers even more options for mounting their favorite hardware, while easing up on logistics should something need repair or replacement.
Maintenance (direct-impingement) Edit
Direct impingement guns blow heat and crud into the receiver, which complicates cleaning and wears out parts faster. Most commercial .308 ARs use this system, which doesn't help the weapon's already troubling laundry list of issues:
Poor/Varying Reliability Edit
There are (very expensive) exceptions, but the platform's reliability can be rather spotty - notably with the highly common direct-impingement models; most of these rifles require a lot of fine-tuning to work at all, are picky about certain brands of ammo (this includes some of the piston guns), and are typically sensitive to the elements and any kind of hard use. Quality has continued to improve over the years, but ultimately the vast majority of the rifles that survivors will encounter are designed for recreation, not combat.
Proprietary Parts Edit
No two .308 ARs are ever the same; the platform's notorious reputation for questionable performance has each company doing their own version(s) of the rifle to see who can top the market. Therefore, different barrels and bolts won't match, upper and lower receivers won't mate, gas systems won't fit, aftermarket mods only work with certain brands... it's just a huge mess. You can get lucky, but in all likelihood you're better off sticking with one rifle and using it until it breaks.
Magazine Specific Edit
Early AR-10 rifles use a proprietary magazine based off the one used in the M14/M1A. The majority of recent .308 ARs use the more common SR-25 pattern mags, but some guns have been shown to have picky reliability among these as well! Sort out your mags to the appropriate weaponry, and do some praying.
These guns offer a very mixed bag, so if the rifle I find is not of a highly-reputable and tested brand, it's probably going to end up in my reserve pile. Most of these rifles should otherwise shoot as designed, but I would be skeptical about relying on them should SHTF post-ZSHTF. And so should you.
Recommended: because they're available - grab one when you can.
Not Recommended: as a primary rifle, unless it's all you have.
The Belgian Fusil Automatique Léger was largely the main battle rifle carried by NATO forces during the Cold War: it has gone toe-to-toe with AK-wielding communists, fascists, and fanatics in numerous conflicts and continues to see service to this day in various hands across the globe. Formerly the standard-issue shoulder arm of Canada (known then as the "C1/C1A1"), the "Right Arm of the Free World" deserves a mention for any survivor's zombocalypse armory.
As you might've guessed, this rifle isn't available in PMG yet, but if you've gotten this far you'll know what I want: tacti-cool pic-rails! I would totally go for the short-barrelled DSA gun on the right image. Combine those looks (including that sexy extended magazine) onto the basic setup on the left image and it'll be my perfect base-defense rifle.
The advent of lighter assault rifles have allowed millions of decommissioned FALs to be stockpiled by almost a hundred countries - chiefly developing ones. It's the third most prolific military long arm currently in existence (behind the AK and AR-15/M16), and production has somewhat continued despite its relative obsolescence; many of which now have all the tacti-cool trimmings you would want.
Reliability / DurabilityEdit
Jungles, deserts, cold and temperate climates; the FAL has operated in all these harsh battlefield environments and chugged onward, thanks to a robust and adjustable gas system that helps cycle the rifle under any conditions, a sturdy steel construction, and the minimal amount of moving internal parts. Israeli FALs did encounter hiccups with fine Egyptian sand, but this appears to have been an isolated case.
This rifle can knock down baddies and delicious game accurately and hard at any distance, and has enough heft to batter said baddies good when you gotta get close and personal. It is also well-suited for defensive postures or supporting your companions at long range, while configs with shorter "Para" barrels should be just as versatile yet allow for some smoother maneuvering in CQB.
This is probably the most ergonomic of the old-school battle rifle designs: it's well-balanced, has a pistol grip for a more natural purchase of the hand, the charging handle is located close for quick off-hand manipulation, the bolt locks back on the last round fired, and there's a conveniently-placed bolt release to slam it back home again after loading. Top it off with a thin piece of metal over the mag well to help guide the mag during reloads, and you'll have a very slick manual of arms that effectively beats out its Cold War contemporaries.
Military 7.62 NATO or civilian .308 Winchester; both should run fine through the rifle, so pick either one when you have to top off your mags.
Parts Commonality / AvailabilityEdit
Parts and parts kits for FAL rifles are interchangeable, and it has become a common practice (at least in the U.S.) to build a FAL using a hodgepodge of components from around the world. Extending your FAL's service life post-ZSHTF is thus possible, though stockpiling of these accoutrements pre-ZSHTF may be best.
Varying Availabilty / QualityEdit
Almost all the developed nations that once used the FAL have traded it for much lighter plasticy fare, and have strict gun laws to ban them from being sold domestically. Canada happens to be one of these nations (though you can reportedly own one with the right license... but you can't shoot it). In North America it appears mostly as a hobby/collector's gun in the U.S. - one of the only countries still producing it. Elsewhere, with the AK and M16 designs being cheaper and more versatile, the FAL is starting to become endangered. Unless the current laws change or you're in the 3rd-world, finding one of these rifles in top working condition is going to be very tough.
Weight and SizeEdit
Machined from heavy steel, FALs of any configuration are pretty hefty boom sticks in a full loadout. The common full-length variants will make any kind of tacti-coolness in tight quarters prohibitive, and be a boon for any grabby undead ghoul.
Depending on how your particular FAL was made (whether it is an "inch" or "metric" pattern), it may be picky regarding the steel magazines it will accept: some may fit, others may need a mallet or some tooling to make it so. Some aftermarket mags have since solved this issue, but this can remain a major ding to this rifle's eligibility.
The vast majority of FALs you'll find won't feature picatinny rails, and aftermarket mods (which seem to come exclusively from one company, DSA) aren't that widespread for such a largely outmoded platform. Nations currently equipped with this weapon are not likely to have these accoutrements, so don't hold your breath on ever seeing them post-ZSHTF.
The Charging HandleEdit
On certain models the handle sticks out like a sore thumb; its placement on the receiver brings it higher into your gear and clothing where it can snag uncomfortably, and if impacted enough the bolt may be pulled out of battery. Typically lacking a forward-assist feature, the handle may need to be racked again to re-seat the bolt; making noise when you don't want to, and could result in a fresh round being lost that you may not be able to recover.
The Gas Dial Edit
The adjustable gas dial near the front end of the rifle's piston has multiple settings that the shooter must use to tune the gun to the environment and ammo they have. For typical survivors without instruction, it could cause trouble (possibly life-threatening) down the road: from erratic reliability to causing unnecessary wear-and-tear on the weapon.
As expected with most .308 battle rifles, the recoil imparted by the heavy cartridge in full-auto is just too violent for a weapon of this (relatively) light configuration. Select-fire already has no point in a resource-strapped post-ZSHTF world, so some armies were wise to abandon this option on many of their FALs up until their replacement.
Canada being the first country to adopt this weapon, I dearly hope it will come back, at least for us civvie apoca-clowns. It's not something you'll find hanging off the average North American gun rack, yet with the nearby U.S. being among the few top licensed producers/importers of this rifle (with a bloated gun culture supporting it), one can hope; just scratch the post-apocalyptic ruins long enough and you may well become a proud owner of your very own Belgian Cold War delight - one that has reigned long and proud in its exclusive class.
Recommended: but highly dependant on location.
IWI TavorEditAs I find myself living in a place where tacti-cool weaponry is frowned upon as "evil killing machines", the civilian-legal models of the Israeli Tavor strangely circumvent the obtuse "restricted firearm" laws being imposed here in Canadastan. The yanks down south have recently begun producing them in-continent, but these rifles were being sold to us kinder folks up north long before that happened. As such, with its growing notoriety and continuing evolution, it has been bumped up to one of my top choices of ZSHTF/post-ZSHTF survival rifle.
The new "SAR" rifles coming out of the U.S.A. would definitely top my wishlist: they feature full-length picatinny rails, as opposed to the standard IDF guns that largely use fixed mounts and proprietary optics that can not be swapped out in the field (though I'll settle with these if they're what's available). No preference in barrel-length, but the laws here in Canada mean that I'll probably be stuck with a long 18.5 inch DMR snout.
High Versatility / ErgonomicsEdit
The futuristic bullpup design is well-contoured and excellently-balanced for maneuverability (even when one-handed), and allows the weapon to be an effective tool for both CQB and medium-to-long range. The controls are arguably some of the best of the bullpup class; the charging handle and selector lever are well-oriented and easy to manipulate, and the ambidextrous mag-well controls make reloads very fast - providing a distinct edge over competing designs. It helps that it's really cool to look at too, eh? (Your tastes may vary.)
Reliability / DurabilityEdit
Tensions in the modern day Holy Land has had the Tavor frequently battle-tested; soldiers there have praised it highly during trials and in the field, carrying it through sand, mud, water and dirt with reportedly no issues. Some internet videos have demonstrated this trait, and have also shown the rifle (at least the civilian versions) working after being frozen or dumped in snow - perfect for average post-apocalyptic Canuck conditions, eh?
The amount of receiver pic-rails will vary per model, but all allow all sorts of sights and optical devices to be mounted onto the gun. A standard offset rail strip above the forearm can likewise allow you to install all kinds of lights, lasers, and (as competitors and tacti-cool dudes now love to do) backup sights/optics. Conversion kits for 9mm - along with an increasing array of aftermarket mods - are also available, and the weapon can be configured for left-handed users by swapping in an appropriate left-hand bolt and switching over the charging handle and selector as you desire.
Accepts all 5.56 and .223 cartridges without hiccups, despite being chambered specifically for the former. The 1 in 7 inch barrel twist, however, may cause varying accuracy with the civilian ammo.
The weapon accepts all permutations of the STANAG M16 magazine design; anything from standard G.I. to trendy Magpul can be fed into the gun with no problems.
Israeli designers referenced the AK platform (surprise surprise) when making the Tavor, and internally their resemblance is quite close: namely in the minimal amount of internal parts, and how they can be removed and cleaned simply without special tools. Add the big, intuitive and well-placed ambi controls and it's a gun that greenhorns can take to like a fish to water.
Compactness / Ease of CarryEdit
The Tavor's excellent balance, ergonomics and short overall length makes this one of the most comfortable rifles one can ever carry - especially for you shorties out there. Survivors will find this handy bullpup very easy to maneuver in vehicles, point around tight corners, and it is a cinch to stash in your lockups or backpacks should you need a portable long gun where space is limited.
Left-handers forced to make due with the default setup may find the prospect of hot brass flying past their lips most unappealing, and though the Tavor's ejection port design somewhat mitigates this issue, it remains a huge turn-off for those who cherish their precious kissers highly.
The Magazine Catch Edit
This control is quite exposed and is located just behind the shooter's firing hand, so there can be situations where a survivor can accidentally bump it and turn this rifle into a single-shot.
Heavy Trigger Edit
Reviews of the Tavor's trigger say that it is stiff and heavy. Concluding opinions seem divided, however: some hate it, some say you can work around it. Aftermarket trigger packs can easily be swapped in, but this is best done as a pre-outbreak investment.
Proprietary Optic (IDF)Edit
What you see is what you get: a stock IDF rifle uses a proprietary "Meprolight" optic that is attached to a special mount that's fixed to the barrel - neither of which can be removed or changed without specialized tools. If that optic ever decides to bust, tough luck to you. Luckily, the modular flat-top variants are much more common for us civvie types.
These rifles command a very high price on the Canuck civilian market, and there is no Canuck service that has adopted this design. Outside of abandoned gun stores (and a select-few lucky gun nuts), a Tavor in the wasteland could be as elusive as the Cheshire cat. The weapon and its many variants is otherwise seeing worldwide deployment in over twenty countries, but chiefly as an exclusive paramilitary/special forces weapon.
Hobbyists in the past who were lucky enough to own a Tavor used to have to order their extra or replacement doodads directly from Israel, and it's doubtful that there will be any post-ZSHTF postal service that can accommodate you. Proliferation of this gun via the U.S. has increased supplies, but the rifle's exotic niche status is not likely to wane, so future survivors should pamper their Tavors closely.
I really wish this gun is not as expensive and uncommon as it is now, but it is the most sexy, versatile, and proven tacti-cool rifle one can legally own in my country without excess red tape - which explains why it is highly coveted in our sport shooting community. I can only hope its recent introduction to the US market will make them a little more affordable in the coming years: for when/if the dead do decide to walk the earth, I would definitely want a kitted-out Tavor mounted over my fireplace... or at least my radiator.
Recommended: but dependant on location/laws.
H&K MP5EditIt's hard to forget the German MP5 from the countless days and nights I've spent shooting evil terrorists in Counterstrike, so for that and more tangible reasons it rightly deserves a spot on my list of desirables.
Since the MP5 has no picatinny rails integrated, setup will be determined by the particular gun you discover and whatever LE or military guy slapped on board prior to you finding it. Regardless, I can settle with having just a factory gun, which is excellent anyway. The next best thing would be to have one with a flashlight-forearm combo and maybe a reflex sight installed - a typical config used by many S.W.A.T. and ERT guys. Beyond that, I would like to get a hand on one of the aftermarket RIS forearms that have been advertised recently (simulated above) to free up my options.
My ideal preference? I'd go for a simple pistol carbine setup with a safe/semi trigger group, like the MP5 SF (first); to avoid the temptation of spray-and-pray, and make it a perfect "minuteman" weapon to hand to more dependent survivors for base defense, or as an effective alternative for those not comfortable with using larger rifles. The other would be to have an "SD" variant with the same config (second) for quietly snuffing Zed or other bad guys in the field. I'm not big on the MP5K (third), but when things get really tight I'll kit out it out and use it appropriately.
The MP5 chambers the 9mm Parabellum round; a well-rounded bullet in terms of performance and production cost, making it the most popular pistol and submachine gun cartridge around the globe. Expect to find it in abundance even in countries with strict gun laws. It also helps that its ammo is shared by many other pistol-caliber firearms; pairing the MP5 with any of them will result in economizing your load out, while saving you a lot of grief when you have to search for spare rounds in the wastes.
Certain military units, major law enforcement departments and government agencies deploy the MP5 in some shape or manner: ERTs, S.W.A.T., or similar paramilitary functions are likely to have these SMGs out and firing at Zed when things get messy, so you can try and pluck one amidst the gore of the city streets. There are also civilian-legal models that you can pick up as well, though they're not quite as common.
One of the reasons why this gun is used by famous units like the SAS and Navy SEALS is that it's so darn reliable; with a firing mechanism that's basically scaled down from the rugged G3 rifle, the weapon can be abused and still fire after being dragged through water, mud, sand and other harsh elements - a quality that no other SMG (and few assault rifles) has been able to match.
From close to medium range, the MP5 excels above all other SMGs: from rapidly clearing rooms in CQB, to slinging accurate 9mm fire at the heads of bandits or zed at a distance. When a rifle is not around and a handgun is not adequate for the task at hand, this weapon can be a viable substitute.
Compactness / Ease of Carry Edit
Light weight and compact, this SMG is very handy to carry around on patrol and on the road. With a folding or collapsible stock you can maximize portability, and with the latter you can adjust the length of pull to your personal comfort.
Modularity / Parts CommonalityEdit
The platform has served for close to fifty years and over that time a decent variety of proprietary and aftermarket accessories have been offered to modify the weapon. Raid the appropriate armories and you'll find detachable pic-rails, forearms, suppressors, different length barrels and shoulder stocks - just to name a few.
Limited Stopping PowerEdit
The 9x19mm round is small and by itself isn't going to stop a bandit in its tracks (not instantly, anyway); through the MP5 its effect is compounded by accurate shot placement and/or tightly-controlled bursts, though the latter is not ideal if ammo is scarce. Hollow-point and similar bullet types may eliminate this issue altogether.
Against a rifle, the MP5 will never be able to compete at extended ranges - distances that its short barrel and small pistol cartridge were never intended to reach.
Most MP5s you are going to find will come with some variation of the Safe/Semi/Burst/Auto trigger group, so in dire circumstances the temptation to spray the gun recklessly on an undead mob is irresistible. Until everyone can be trained to keep their selectors on semi-auto, I would advocate keeping this weapon for the more cool-headed of your group.
Uncommon Parts/Accessories Edit
As a largely exclusive police/military niche weapon, spare parts and accessories aren't exactly going to be spilling from the shelves. Getting to the armories first will be essential, or you gotta live with the gun you got.
Counterstriking experiences aside, the MP5 in my mind appears to be one of the most efficient and effective firearms available for the common 9mm Para cartridge, and something that anyone can pick up and comfortably shoot - in semi-auto, anyway. A classic tacti-cool weapon that can prove to be a slick and lethal ghoul-slaying tool in the right hands.
Highly Recommended: in any country with a well-equipped police force.
Benelli M4 Super 90EditRacking the pump on your pump-action shotgun wearing you out? Then you should consider the Benelli M4 for your post-ZSHTF collection. Having helped militaries and police departments knock down doors - and the bad guys behind them - in North America and places abroad, this deadly Italian boom stick will no doubt earn a special place in your heart and on your rack.
Note: This is the only attractive shotgun PMG offers, but most of what's written here will apply to what I find in most well-built tube-fed designs of any type.
Plain out of the box, the gun should be perfectly fine, but I'm not opposed to having a red dot on the receiver rails to speed up my point-and-click technique.
Shotgun shells come in many varieties and are used in firearms the world over; predominantly by police, avid recreationists, and those who are mindful of home defense. As such, they are pretty abundant and should be easy to scavenge for your Benelli, regardless of your location.
Versatility / FirepowerEdit
When you quickly need to douse your undead and bandit foes (or that tasty deer in the woods) with a barrage of lead, this is one of the best tools for the job; its adjustable buttstock provides added maneuverability and portability in those tight quarters, and its semi-automatic operation means that as long as there are rounds in the tube, sheer devastation will be unleashed with every pull of the trigger. Along with standard slug and shot rounds, there is an assortment of specialized military and non-lethal munitions that survivors can use at their discretion.
Not many things can survive a thick slug or a load of 00 buck to the head or body, which is why shotguns are typically standard equipment in zombie apocalypse arsenals.
Like most tube-fed shotguns, the Super 90 has everything you need on board: reloading is pretty straight-forward - no need to worry about detachable magazines that you may break or lose. It comes with large tactile controls, and the weapon is easy to strip down and clean - with very few parts to look over when laid out.
From red dots to scopes, the receiver rail is adequate for mounting whatever you need to aim the gun better, and it comes in either a fixed or adjustable buttstock that you can easily switch out. Aftermarket stocks, light/laser brackets and forearms can also give survivors some added tacti-coolness.
Reliability / DurabilityEdit
From the mean streets of LA to the harsh sands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Super 90 is a rugged and combat-proven design. You can reportedly blow through thousands of shells before you can even try to break the gun, so survivors shouldn't have to worry too much about the weapon in this respect.
With standard shot cartridges, this weapon probably won't deliver any significant effect at long range. Slugs may improve performance somewhat, but a rifle is undoubtedly a much better tool for those kinds of distances.
The tube holds only 5 to 7 rounds (for civilians and military/LE respectively); considering the gun's fast rate-of-fire, that's not a lot of ammo to have when confronted with large enemy numbers. An aftermarket tube extension can add a few more to the pipe, but it only slightly delays the inevitable process of...
Reloading the tubular magazine can be a slow and terrifying ordeal - each round must be shucked in one at a time, and when surrounded by ghouls or bloodthirsty bandits (or Bambi's vengeful pals) it'll be easy to fumble those precious rounds into the dirt if you can't staunch the fear surging up your gullet.
Be mindful of the ammo you feed into this shotgun - while it is capable of firing-off any shells you put into it, certain types may not exert enough pressure to cycle the action or could cycle it just enough to cause a malfunction. Some sporting and most non-lethal rounds will be suspect for these issues, so make sure to consolidate your loads before you head out on your missions.
The Charging HandleEdit
It sticks out and reciprocates, and thus it can snag on stuff if you're not wary, so give the right side some room when firing this weapon.
Availability Unknown (Canada)Edit
This shotgun is rather pricey for the common civilian, so I'm not certain if there will be many of these filling up shelves or racks (with available spare parts) for survivors to find. Scouring those military or police caches will be essential, but I would keep expectations low.
Shotguns pack a lot of heat, and you probably can't do much better than a Benelli Super 90 (or similar design) for a practical and devastating semi-auto, which will certainly give you an edge over your wasteland foes when the fighting gets up close.
Recommended: but dependant on location.
Glock 17 / 19EditWhen you think "zombies", and then think "handgun", like me you'll most likely think "Glock"; and it'll probably mean the Glock 17 or 19, the most available Glock variants in the world with an iconic look that pops up in almost every action movie, shooter game, and kid's drawing to date.
Lots of hype (and equal amounts of hate) has surrounded these Austrian exports ever since they came out more than thirty years ago, but given the revolutionary design, pop-culture status and ongoing service record (and the fact that a Glock is the first handgun I've ever fired), there's no shame in giving in and getting one of these for yourself!
Like most handguns, you shouldn't need much in way of accessories; my preference would be to have at least a detachable light accessory so I can light up and blow away zombies or bandits in the pitch dark. After that, it would be ideal to have a detachable sound suppressor and a threaded barrel to attach it to, and maybe some better sights. A .22 LR conversion kit would also expand the Glock's value as a low-cost trainer and general-purpose pest-popper, and (if time and the available tools permit) I'd stipple the grip to give me a more textured surface to hold onto should my hands get "slippery".
Both models fire the highly ubiquitous 9mm Parabellum round; a popular cartridge for many modern handguns and SMGs. Be they in gun stores, police or military lockers, or off some poor schmuck going ripe, spare rounds for the 9mm Glocks are out there to be found.
The Glock is a boring no-frills design that is easy to field strip and maintain, with no external safeties or hammers needing to be manipulated before the gun can fire: simply rack a live round into the chamber, and it's ready to go. To prevent any accidental discharges, passive safeties are built into the trigger, frame and slide to keep the firing pin blocked, even when the gun is dropped hard. The end product is a handgun that is not only very quick on the draw, but is very well-behaved too!
High Reliability / DurabilityEdit
Coined the "AK of handguns", Glocks have received glowing reviews for their reliability: built to withstand abuse through thousands of rounds while being dragged through all kinds of harsh conditions. Evidence to the contrary has been documented, but these lemons have become quite rare - particularly with the 9mm models.
High Availability Edit
Glocks are everywhere: millions of them have been produced and circulated, and with everyone from soldiers, beat cops to lowly gangbangers using them on almost every continent, it'll be hard not to find one of these plastic wonders lying around somewhere.
Large / Common Magazines Edit
One of the biggest selling points of the Glock 17 has always been its magazine capacity, which set the standard for today's 9mm handguns: 17 rounds, all of which fits snug and slim into the grip. The G19 holds only 15 but can accept the larger mags as well. Glock's worldwide proliferation keeps these mags abundant, and there are factory/aftermarket mags that can go as high as 33 rounds, which can make any lucky Glock-toting survivor a force to be reckoned with!
Versatility / CompactnessEdit
The Glock design's accuracy, slim profile, short overall length, and awesome firepower for the light weight makes it a very handy and potent package; whether it be as a trusty sidearm, a concealable backup gun, or something to help take the fight to an oncoming horde or some nasty bandits.
Glocks have served for a very long time, so accessories, spare parts and aftermarket mods are plentiful. Magazines and barrels from standard and longer-barreled Glocks can also be fed into most smaller models of the same caliber (but not the reverse), and many parts can be swapped or cannibalized between guns if needed. With so much stuff lying around to keep it going, a Glock might long outlive the survivor owning it!
Consistent training: a definite must for potential Glock wielders, for in the hands of idiots it is deadly to everyone near it, as the light trigger pull and lack of a manual safety makes it easier for one to unwittingly bust a cap into themselves, into their friends, or worse: ring the dinner bell for a nearby horde.
Limited Stopping Power Edit
The full-jacket 9mm Para bullet is pretty small and under-powered overall, so shot placement is essential. Hollow-point or similar ammo will increase effectiveness, otherwise you may need to fire off a bunch of these to effectively halt a determined bad guy.
Detractors mainly harp about the pistol's weird grip angle and its blocky feel (hence the "Block" nickname), the former requiring you to cant your wrist down in order to properly align the sights, which to some can feel unnatural. Your mileage may vary.
Poor Sight DesignEdit
The factory sights get a lot of flak for the badly conceived sighting picture and that they are typically made of plastic. Hopefully you'll be able to switch them out, or you'll just have to pray they don't bust.
The Trigger GuardEdit
When winter comes, you need warm clothing - which includes gloves. The Glock trigger guard design is pretty narrow and thus isn't very accommodating for most of us canucks who need to keep our fingers toasty.
A given disadvantage for many handguns; the pistol ammo it fires and the short barrel limits the Glock's effectiveness to close distances - the kind of range that you don't want to be in with against undead, but it is the only way to be effective with this type of weapon.
Unlike rifles and similar firearms, handguns generally require more technical proficiency to wield - the Glock is no exception. Without a buttstock for bracing, proper posture and fundamentals are highly key to being accurate with these weapons, and any slight offset will be unforgiving - even at a few yards; especially if you're trying to hit the bobbing craniums of approaching ghouls.
The Glock is not perfect and is now losing some ground to fresh competition (such as the M&P), but it continues to be a trusty companion for countless many around the world, providing dependable firepower in a tough little package that is guaranteed to find a home in the waistband or holster of any survivor.
Very Highly Recommended.
M1911 seriesEditBattle-proven, handsome... but kinda outmoded. These are just some of the qualities that you'll get with the M1911; America's sidearm against tyranny for a better part of a century. This slim .45 handcannon is among the world's first modern pistol designs, yet it continues to kick butt to this day in some form or another.
Will it help survivors of the apocalypse kick some undead and bandit butt too? Well, let's take a look...
Beyond an accessory rail, a tac-light, a threaded barrel and a good suppressor, most well-built 1911s shouldn't need much else... aside from maybe an extended magazine: because seven rounds just aren't enough! Any one of these guns made with a lighter-weight alloy will be preferable, and a .22 LR conversion kit will definitely help save on the precious ammo.
Private owners, police officers, certain military units, competitive shooters... the list goes on, and as such so does this famous American handgun. North American gun stores are rife with 1911s of every permutation, and people just keep buying them; which means you might just be able to get one too - either by shelving out your hard-earned dollars pre-outbreak, or by doing some good scavenging in the aftermath.
It's reported to be one of the most ergonomic handguns ever made: it's relatively thin and fits very well in the hand, its controls are easy to manipulate, it points naturally, and it has an incomparably crisp trigger design for smooth and accurate shooting (on the good models anyway). These qualities are why many professional and civilian owners abide by this weapon and why there is such a passionate culture dedicated towards it - great testaments to a design that's now over a century old, and counting!
With a popular pistol comes plenty of ammunition for those willing to empty their wallets to feed it. .45 ACP is also used in many other firearms, so there should be plenty of boxes lying loose out in the wasteland.
Naturally Subsonic Ammo Edit
Most sound suppressors require specially-made subsonic ammo in order to turn that "bang" into a "pfff". The heavy .45 ACP round is naturally such, and thus already ideal for any wasteland ninja needing to snuff a foe without a fuss (provided they can find a suppressor to use).
The design features two safeties: the thumb switch safety and the grip safety, with the single-action hammer counting as an unofficial third when it's decocked. The grip safety is key in that it allows for the weapon to be carried "cocked-and-locked" (hammer back, thumb safety engaged), and prevents any accidental discharges by mandating that the user has a proper grip for the gun to fire. These controls, in concert, are thus very exceptional at keeping the pistol idiot-proof until it is truly needed.
Bullets aren't magical, but among the practical semi-auto pistol calibers the .45 ACP cartridge yields the most lead; therefore offering more 'punch' to stop bad guys in their tracks. This advantage won't matter much against an undead ghoul and shot placement will generally be important, but if you want more 'bang' against some crazed bandit coming for your family, this round going through your 1911 just might do it for you.
Overlooking the weight, the gun is still a trim fit in most hands, is small enough for easy storage, and short enough to let survivors be nimble with it in close quarters, as well as any other situation where a sidearm with a heavy cartridge is what's needed to get the job done.
America's incestuous love for the 1911 has saturated the continent with factory/aftermarket parts and accessories that survivors can easily scavenge; from special grips, to all kinds of match-grade components, holsters and extended mags, to lights and lasers (if your model has a rail), survivors have many ways to pimp and coddle this beloved gat. Some gunsmithing skill may be required, however.
The design was made during a period when fancy plastics didn't exist, so out of either tradition, necessity or just plain stubbornness, nearly all available 1911s are still built entirely of metal: many weighing twice as much as more modern polymer-framed offerings. This heftiness makes firing the .45 ammo more pleasant, but it is also what makes this next drawback much more noticeable:
Seven/Eight rounds is all you'll get out of the standard magazine. Higher cap mags are available, but are still relatively small compared to what's being offered by lighter modern handguns. Against a sizable group of enemies, hefting this True-American pistol will leave you outgunned.
Varying Reliability / DurabilityEdit
Unfortunately, not all 1911s are made equal: this old design was made to be individually hand-fitted by specialized craftsmen, making the quality models quite expensive and therefore much less common. Many companies will skimp on such workmanship - resulting in everything from crappy magazines, to cheap components, to shoddy fit and finish. Most survivors are likely to grab one of these awful lemons and not realize it until it's too late.
Maintenance / ComplexityEdit
This handgun is reliable... that is if you treat it like a spoiled brat: its construction is as complex as a Swiss watch and any large amount of grit, debris or fouling that gets stuck in the many tight workings has been known to jam the gun up. Field stripping is clumsier than other current handguns (and may even require tools), and many models out of the box (even the high-end ones) require an expert gunsmith to be fixed, tuned, and polished for it to run perfectly - if at all.
Safety "Deathtraps" Edit
The myriad of safety features can complicate your life when you're in a bad fix; fumble your grip or forget to flick the other controls, and you'll be a deer in headlights. Nothing that a lot of good training and muscle memory won't solve, but for most average joes/josephines it is possible that fumbling with these controls will turn costly when those split seconds count.
The Trigger GuardEdit
It gets really cold up here in Canada, and the typical 1911 trigger guard is way too narrow for even average-sized gloved digits.
Having a short barrel, a heavy bullet, and a single-digit mag cap, your 1911 is best used up close; especially when up against shambling ghouls. Make every shot count.
Without a buttstock for bracing, the skillsets that are required in aiming and firing any pistol are much more demanding than a rifle; with the 1911 you can expect no less. Mastery of your posture and technique will determine your accuracy - and thus your survivability - against potential wasteland foes.
As fine-shooting and sweet to carry this design can be, most modern double-stack pistols have outclassed it, and there are other aspects of surviving the apocalypse that I would rather devote my time and effort to than having to spend it pampering a firearm that's as finicky as this one. Regardless, the large quantities that could be available alone does make these vintage gats worth keeping - if you can find them.
Recommended: because they're plentiful - grab one when you can.
Not Recommended: as a primary sidearm, unless it's all you have.
SIG Sauer P226R (9mm)Edit
The 9mm P226 is an elite combat pistol forged in the Swiss Alps. Most of you have probably heard that it's been used by the U.S. Navy SEALS and some other special forces units, and that it lost to the Beretta M9 for standard U.S. adoption. The model's 'R' designation indicates the short accessory rail, which is now an integrated feature in the series.
A detachable light, a threaded barrel, and a good suppressor - these are all the ideal things that would make my combat handgun complete when I go out into the zombie-infested wastes. Don't forget a .22 LR conversion kit - always a must.
High Reliability / DurabilityEdit
This design has garnered a sterling reputation amongst soldiers and LE officers in the field for being incredibly rugged and reliable through thousands of rounds and in all kinds of adverse environments. Many of the handguns that were made back in the 80's are still being seen and used today, and the gun reportedly outpaced the M9 in rigorous U.S. military trials, only to lose out for its price tag. Then when you got a revered special forces unit endorsing it, you know it has to be good.
Ergonomics / SimplicityEdit
Internalized safety features make this an easy point-and-shooter; just sweep the hammer to prep the trigger (if you need to), and then sweep the decocking lever after you're done to make the pistol safe to holster or drop to the ground hard - even with a loaded chamber. Take down and maintenance is also pretty simple, and the weapon's sleek contours - combined with the weight - provide a firm and very comfortable fit in the hand.
The 9mm round is a very ubiquitous and versatile handgun/SMG cartridge that you can find in abundance around the world, so getting ammo to feed this alpine gat shouldn't be a problem.
On par with most double-stack service handguns, the P226 is accurate, relatively short, and sports an ample round count (standard is 15+1); making it a maneuverable and deadly piece to point in close quarters and wherever else a good sidearm will be better over a clumsy long gun.
The SEALS are fortunately not the only ones who are privy to this unique weapon: a number of other military units (including Canada's own Special Forces), law enforcement and government agencies around the world carry it as well, and it is commercially available to civilians - albeit at a very high price tag. Chances of finding one in the wasteland are at least decent.
Thirty years (and counting) in professional and private hands has spawned many aftermarket and proprietary accoutrements dedicated to this pistol; from holsters, sights, to extended high-cap mags, to lights and lasers, to spare parts and custom grips, all angles are covered for this mean Swiss machine.
Weight and ThicknessEdit
Like a lot of the classic SIG pistols, the P226 is chunky and heavy. Great attributes for dampening recoil, but they can be major turn-offs for survivors with small hands and those not eager to lug around a boat anchor in their pants.
Heavy Trigger (Double-Action)Edit
While a minor issue that can be solved with good practice, some finger strength is your friend if you have to pull the trigger on this handgun with the hammer decocked - it's a little bit heavy and it has to travel a long way before the gun can go off, during which your aim can waver if you're not used to it. It can also slow your first shot down should you have to draw on a foe quickly, which can be detrimental when those split seconds count.
Limited Stopping PowerEdit
Pistol cartridges typically yield less power than rifle rounds; the 9mm Para especially so, with its small diameter and case length. Shot placement will be a must against all living and undead targets.
Don't expect to be too effective with any handgun in a long-distance battle, let alone with the P226 - they're called "sidearms" for a reason, so get out your shoulder arm if you have to hit something accurately from afar.
Covered before in the other handguns: it's so easy to miss when handling one of these weapons, so rigorously study and practice the proper techniques if you want to hit what you aim at.
As simply a defensive tool, there are now newer handguns that are cheaper, lighter, less over-engineered, yet perform just as excellently. Nonetheless, potential survivors can not go wrong with finding a P226 and keeping it at their side, whose solid attributes will be reassuring on the long road and behind high walls.
I think this completes my list! For now, anyway, until PMG puts out more stuff, but I think my preferred armory is filled up enough as it is with the stuff dreams are made of.
So now onto my honorable mentions; containing other firearms I like that are either not in PMG yet, cover broad categories, or are feasible yet don't quite make the cut for me.
The fun gun that's plinked tin cans off fence posts for many decades! Very common, very reliable, and chambered in very cheap and plentiful .22 LR. Not recommended as a main weapon, but survivors can easily use this rifle for tasty critter huntin', good ol' target practice, and perimeter ghoul control. Many also like to pimp these with aftermarket doodads for added flavour.
My country has no access to Saiga's or AA12s, so I turn to this as one of the coolest (if not the best) hi-cap shotgun designs to have ever arrived on the market. Packs 14+1 shells in a sci-fi bullpup config for maximum anti-ghoul firepower, but the gun is expensive, can be awkward to load, and the company's rep for poor quality control means your mileage may vary.
Simonov SKS Edit
A communist battle rifle that preceded the AK-47, yet uses the same ammunition. Here in Canada it is a popular civilian-legal firearm, which features an attached folding bayonet that can prove useful for skewering ghouls, bandits, and critters alike. Feeds from a 10-round internal magazine (which can be loaded quickly with stripper clips), but no thanks to current laws it is tapped off at five. Luckily, the weapon can be modified to use detachable (though goofy-looking) box mags to increase your round count.
CZ 858 / CSA vz. 58 Edit
The sporterized versions of the Czech military's soviet-era assault rifle. Flat-shooting, easy-handling, ugly AF (to me, anyway), and while the large exposed action makes it somewhat vulnerable to the elements, it is a highly proven and popular design - available with many mall-ninja upgrades! For many years this was Canada's only AK alternative; that is, up until the next item on this list...
Norinco Type 81SA Edit
China's former standard-issue assault rifle has recently been remade for civilian export to our snowy maple wonderland! This unique but proven firearm boasts an amalgamation of several Russian designs to become what is reportedly a marked improvement over the coveted AK-47. Do not be fooled however: save the magazines (which can be used with some slight modification), the gun shares no other AK components. Nonetheless, this is currently the closest one can get to a Kalashnikov in our ban-happy nation.
Norinco Type 97 NSR-A (Gen 2) Edit
A .223/5.56 semi-auto export model of China's QBZ-95. The original (aka ugly) version is most common here, but for the post-apocalypse this is the variant I want: sold with a very slick flat-top/keymod upper receiver, a slick non-reciprocating charging handle, and an ambi mag release and reshaped mag-well for slicker reloads. Slick! Looking past its limited track record, the spongy trigger and the poorly placed safety, it is still considered a handy, reliable and accurate weapon by most civilian accounts. Definitely not a Tavor/X95, but if you can't find one to help you slay the wasteland horrors, this could be a viable alternative.
IWI X95 (civilian-legal) Edit
The latest variant of the Tavor reconfigured for commercial sale, with some enhanced ergonomics and handling characteristics; most notably a rail system integrated into the forearm, the improved trigger, the closer charging handle, and the magazine release lever being replaced by a button above the trigger guard on both sides, making for quicker reloads. No doubt a reliable and tacti-cool post-ZSHTF weapon like its older brother, and the version that I would ultimately prefer - provided their numbers here increase.
Anything M16-like, basically - Americans, Canucks, and a number of armed forces abroad have used many iterations of this platform over the years, making parts and accessories plentiful to keep these guns supported. If I can't get my hands on a C7 or C8, I can settle with the next best thing. I might even try and build a rifle of my own!
In its heyday, this German battle rifle had proven itself to be a tough and accurate shoulder arm, and there are quite a few still being equipped by a number of standing armies and paramilitaries. What turns me off though is the long awkward charging handle, the reportedly awful triggers, and that the gun is mostly used in developing nations (where I probably won't be). It's also banned in Canada.
FN SCAR Mk. 16 / 16SEdit
I'm a little bit in love with the SCAR platform; so if I can have a Mk. 17 in my perfect post-ZSHTF scenario... why not have a Mk. 16 to keep it company? Probably the most feasible SCAR option, what with the lighter caliber being easier to shoot and the wider magazine choices. Still somewhat exotic, however, and reportedly not much of an improvement over most well-built AR-15/M16s.
The world's most ubiquitous sniper rifle and DMR, which fires some pretty common ammunition as well. Good luck trying to get one of these in zombieland North America, because the 3rd-world is where this deadly "dragon" usually dwells.
Anything from little derringers to full-framed handcannons. These are accurate and reliable guns that are always ready-to-go and lets survivors maximize their ammo management. However: low ammo capacity (average is 5 to 6 rounds), typically high recoil, and the antiquated loading method make these somewhat obsolete against modern semi-auto designs. Good as backup weapons, at most. .357 Magnum models preferred, as they can also chamber the common .38 Special cartridge.
Deemed to be one of the best .45 ACP handguns available; it carries 13+1 man/ghoul-stoppers, and has all the no-frills reliability you've come to expect of the Glock design. Even in places like Canada - with bans on "high-capacity magazines" - it still holds more ammo in a lighter weight than most other .45 platforms of the same size. Unfortunately, not enough people or institutions use this handgun to make it ubiquitous.
Browning Hi Power Edit
American-designed, Belgian-made - the first real combat handgun chambered in 9mm, boasting an unprecedented 13+1 capacity. It's used by more than fifty nations (including Canada, at present) with a service history going all the way back to World War 2. Despite being ahead of its time and enjoying greater worldwide ubiquity over the M1911, it has received little aftermarket attention and many modern designs have since eclipsed it - though I would still pick this over its predecessor any day of the week.
Smith & Wesson M&P 9 / 40* / 45*Edit
I've heard many great things about S&W's handgun design: though Glocks still beat it in track record and sheer numbers, the M&P (Military & Police) line rivals with its superb reliability and simplicity, while excelling with its sleek looks and ergonomics - not to mention its slightly cheaper price tag. The M&Ps have thus evolved and grown popular over the years to the point where even a couple of police departments here in Canada are now issuing them. Unfortunately these departments aren't exactly close by, so for me this is definitely a pre-outbreak purchase decision.
M&P40* (Full-Size) : Favored for currently being what's used by the select Canada PDs, and that if I find any .40 S&W ammo out there, this handgun is designed to use it best. Holds 15+1 rounds. Should you find it useful, this pistol can easily be converted with factory/aftermarket barrels and magazines to fire either 9mm (17+1) or .357 SIG (15+1); giving you three caliber options in one. (.357 and .40 also share the same mags)
M&P45* (Full-Size) : Chosen because I'm lacking in good .45 ACP options. It sports a slightly longer barrel & slide, and has been reviewed to be one of the softest-recoiling and most ergonomic designs for the caliber - qualities comparable to the M1911. But as a compromise, it packs only 10+1 rounds; which still beats what's in the aforementioned pistol, and just happens to follow the (dumb) mag cap laws here, making this one of the better handguns designed for this round count.
M&P9/40 "M2.0" Compact : Newly-introduced is the mid-sized model of the series - with all the latest enhancements of the newest generation. Carries 15/13 rounds (for 9mm or .40 S&W, respectively) in a package that balances firepower with concealability; much like the popular Glock 19. The fact that this design also takes the full-sized mags makes this the most ideal M&P for post-ZSHTF survivalists.
SIG Sauer P320 / M17 Edit
A highly-innovative handgun design, once again from our Swiss friends - a slight variation of which (after considerable testing) has recently won a huge contract with the U.S. military. The weapon system uses a drop-in trigger pack that can universally fit in any size of frame, in any caliber of the gun available. Given enough time, this could easily become the penultimate post-ZSHTF survival pistol!
Arsenal Rankings (real life)Edit
Picked from within and outside PMG, these guns are ranked according to realistic expectations and/or outright bad-a$$ness. Highlighted names comprise my ultimate dream loadout.
- 1st. C7A2
- 2nd. M1A "Scout" or Norinco M305 (18.5")
- 3rd. C8 carbine (any)
- 4th. IWI Tavor (18.5")
- 1st. Remington 870 (issued to LE and Military)
- 2nd. Mossberg 590SP
- 3rd. Bennelli M4
- 4th. KSG (highest-cap shotgun available)
- 1st. Glock 17 or 19 (police standard issue)
- 2nd. Browning Hi Power (Canadian military standard-issue)
- 3rd. M1911 (any brand)