Sunday, February 19, 2012

Equipment: clothing.

Alright, I was going to do a scavenging bit next, but I realized that I really need to address something first: equipment.  I love figuring out what would work out best for a situation, and since it's all in my head, I can run up the price as much as I want.  Of course, real life isn't very kind to my dream lists (which is why I like rejecting it and substituting my own), so I thought up a pretty good "survival package" for those of us who don't have twenty-some thousand dollars to blow on gear.  Just remember (please) that the list is designed as a general kit for a narrow latitudinal range.  If it doesn't work where you live, change it!  Base your kit on your circumstances.
  Lower half:
  First, you need a good pair of denims.  They're thick enough to ward off small thorns, warm enough for winter work, and durable enough to survive a human bite (it will hurt, though, so try to stay out of reach).  Get them in  dark blue or black if you can, and wear them with a belt or suspenders.
  Second, find some long underwear, top and bottom. You'll love them above 40 degrees latitude, and extra cloth has plenty of uses wherever you go.
  Third, at least four pairs of socks.  Two should be wool, the others cotton or some other light material for warmer days and places.  Swap them out regularly, and for the sake of your feet, make sure to replace them when they begin to fray.
  Fourth, pick up a pair of comfortable shoes or boots.  Your situation will dictate which is the better choice.  Cushion inserts will let you walk further and more comfortably, and don't cost nearly so much as custom footwear.  A good sole is important, too.  Finally, break in your shoes (or boots!) when you buy them; a few weeks of wear will be more than enough to stretch them out.  Please believe me when I say that you need to stretch them out.
  Upper half:
  Start with a T-shirt that's baggy enough that you can tuck your arms into it easily.  Over it, wear a long-sleeved tee to bring the  closer in and harder to grab.  Find a hoodie or sweater for an extra layer and finish with a winter hat.  Add an overcoat or another long-sleeved shirt (or both, naturally) if you're still chilly.  It's best to wear only dark clothing, but you only really need the visible layers to be night-friendly, and if you're traveling with a group, you might want to wear an orange hat or vest so your allies know not to shoot you.

  The next part of Equipment will be a general backpack contents overview, among other things.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting out of a city.

HA!  Finally got around to posting something else!  Sorry for the delay, and the one to come tomorrow.  I know, the schedule I managed to put together is flolloping around, but I honestly can't help it.  I'm working hard at a bunch of things, and I just don't have as much time to write.  So, unfortunately, I'm going to have to downgrade the update schedule to once every two or three days.  I'm not happy about it, and I'll reinstate the 1 day, 1 post schedule as soon as I can, but for now, I'm going to have to hold back.  I hope you understand.  Now, I'll get out of your way so you can read the new post.

 Cities are extremely dangerous places during a zombie outbreak.  They have the highest concentration of supplies of any location aside from a storehouse, making them the first place many people will go to search for supplies.  Gridlock will spread to every street, making car travel impossible from the beginning.  Riots will break out and arson, mugging, and murder rates will all spike.  Most of the people in the city will be out of shape, stuck in the gridlock, or both, and won't be able to escape in time, causing a super-high density of zombies in the area.  It will be very difficult to escape without help.  Of course, that's the first part of survival in a disaster: band together with other people.  Have someone, or several someones, travel with you to watch your back.  If you can arrange a place to meet some trusted friends during a disaster, like in a park or near a school--wherever it's likely to be safe--do it.  If you can't, or don't have any people you can trust, find people.  Even if you have to share supplies, an extra pair of eyes and hands will help more than an extra day's worth of food, especially in the city where so many doors will need to be forced.
  The second part of survival is just as obvious: have a plan and supplies already laid out.  Even if you can only get a state map, a water bottle, and a few pop-top cans of soup together, do it, because if you don't, you have to scavenge for supplies, and you do not want to do that when the 5-hit (you know what I mean) is going down.  Have your route and supplies ready to go from the start.
  Third, get a weapon.  Supplies help you stay ready for any disaster and keep you alive for the first few days, but a weapon will be critical for surviving the week.  Even if you don't encounter any zombies in the city, a weapon will give you the means to fend off looters and other people who want your supplies but don't want to trade for them.  Target + weapon = less of a target, you know?  Anyways, get something with which to defend yourself.  You might not want to fight, but if you can't avoid a confrontation, it's better to have something besides your words and fists.
  Fourth, just go.  If you have loved ones in the city and want to look for them, fine, but when you're ready to leave, don't look back.  If you left the burner on, there'll be plenty of other fires to worry about so yours probably won't make much difference.  You can find supplies, weapons, and companions on your way to safer lands, but if you haven't left town (or, in this case, city) by the time the infected arrive, you're pretty much boned.  Do yourself a favor and don't stop running until the city is a gray splotch in the distance.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Alright, it's about time I put out some new material.  Hope you like it.

  When you're bored, you get tired more easily, become impatient, and lose most of your ability to flex with new developments.  You can't concentrate well, either, and that's more likely to kill you than not having a weapon.  Fortunately, the solution is simple: stay entertained.  Play cards, learn new things, tell stories, share ideas, do what you love to do.  Whatever you do for the day, leave some time for yourself.  If you like writing, make time to write.  Keep a journal.  Invent short stories.  Do anything.  You need it as much as you need food or air, because without it you will not survive.  Don't force yourself to have fun, and don't force yourself to be serious: neither one works.  And without some measure of pleasure, life isn't really worth living.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The three bag system.

Since I wasn't able to do any research today (thanks to two several-hours-long events about which nobody felt like telling me), I'm going to move away from weapons for a bit and talk about carrying and distributing equipment.  I call this the "three bag" system, for reasons that'll become obvious.

  First, make a bag of the smallest and most important equipment in your kit.  This is called the carry bag.  You should be able to fit some dried food, water purification tablets, a little medical kit, and other light, vital equipment in the bag, and it should be secure without you holding on to it.  You should carry everything in plastic bags or some other waterproof container.  Slipping my own preference in here, I recommend a fanny pack because it won't carry so much that you're tempted to put in too much, but has more than enough space for the things you'll need the most.  If you want to, you can also keep items in your pants pockets, but make sure that none of them will fall out when you move quickly or upside down and that they'll survive a plunge underwater.  Again, plastic bags come to the rescue.
  Second, make a bag of less important but still very useful equipment.  This is your drop bag, full of the items that'll keep you healthy if you lose most of your supplies, but "droppable" so long as you have your carry bag.  Backpacks work beautifully for this, because they won't fall off if you run but you can still get them off in a hurry if you need to dump weight.  And remember not to carry everything in here: if you need to run, you should be able to quickly strip off anything stopping you from sprinting, including this, without risking your life in the near future.
  Third, fill a bag with the heaviest, least important equipment you have.  If things get hairy, you should be able to ditch this and run while keeping all of your more important things in your drop and carry bags.  If you can retrieve the bag, great. If something stops you, though, you should be able to live off of the things in your other two bags until you find more gear.  I recommend a duffel bag because it's big enough to carry more than what you need, durable enough to survive a fall, and designed to be easy to carry.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shotguns, part 3.

  For all of the rounds here, I have only confirmed their existence in 12 gauge, not in 20 gauge (or any other gauge or bore).  All have their uses, but are best used as supplements to conventional shot and slug rounds.
  First up is the breaching slug.  This round is usually made of metal powder and resin and is designed to destroy locks without ricocheting.  When it hits, the slug dumps all its kinetic energy into the lock and bursts apart into a powder too small to hurt anyone nearby.  It causes massive injury to a human target, just like any other round, but won't penetrate as far and will flatten and spread much more.  If you have these rounds available, they're great for entering locked houses, cracking safes, and so on.  But in order to release its energy safely, the powder needs to dissipate.  If you press your shotgun's barrel against the lock you want to breach, some of the powder might ricochet back into your gun, damaging its barrel.  To avoid this, just hold the shotgun a little ways away from the lock you're trying to blast open.  These rounds aren't as accurate as solid slugs, and they aren't likely to penetrate more than one target, so you'll find the most use for them in a house or other enclosed space where a ricocheting bullet would be...problematic.
  Second is the flash-bang round.  Designed for law-enforcement use, it works just like a grenade of the same name, though with a smaller area of effect.  True to its name, this round bursts on impact with a flash of light and a disorienting bang.  It makes a great distraction, and you can buy it online or from certain surplus stores.  It isn't lethal--the worst this does is bruise its target--but is still a wonderful tool, especially because actual flash-bang grenades are hard to get and (possibly) illegal.  In any case, this round is very useful but not meant for use indoors (unless you fire it from outside).  This kind of round should only be used with hearing protection, and maybe a pair of sunglasses.  Just in case, try to close your eyes before it goes off.
  Third is the incendiary round.  This is...interesting.  I wouldn't go out to buy one, though.  If you want to set something on fire, there are less expensive ways to do it: an incendiary shell, where it's legal to buy, costs between 5 and 20 dollars.  That's for just one.  And it isn't really that efficient, because it fires its payload over a period of  3-5 seconds.  And it would be a horrible idea to eject the round before it goes out--unless you want a flaming, spinning shotgun cartridge near your head.  Also, you shouldn't fire this from a semiautomatic or automatic shotgun, for the previous reason and because it doesn't always give enough recoil to completely cycle the action.  It's a very situation-specific round, best made for lighting things on fire from afar or signalling to people.  Really, this round isn't very useful.
  Fourth is the bolo round.  Its name is derived from the word "bolas," a hunting tool which consisted of two wooden balls tied together with a strip of leather.  A hunter would whirl it over his head and then throw it at his target's legs, entangling them and tripping the animal.  This weapon was very accurate in the hands of an experienced user, and could even kill the target by strangulation if thrown properly.
  The bolo round carries the form of the bolas, but not its spirit: made of of two round slugs joined together by a long wire, it fires inaccurately but slices into soft targets with its wire, causing horrendous wound channels.  This is no sniper's round, but its effect makes the bolo round well worth considering.  Just remember to use it at close range.
  (Note: using the bolo round as an improvised amputation tool is a very, very bad idea, not least because of its random flight pattern and the possibility that it won't cut through the bone entirely.  Don't even think of trying it.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shotguns, part 2.

It's AMMUH TIEM!!!1!
  There are two main types of shotgun ammunition: shells, which fire a swarm of pellets at your enemy, and slugs, which are pretty much big bullets in a shotgun cartridge.  Slugs need various things to line them up with the barrel, since there's some extra space in the sleeve that the slug doesn't fill, but you should only worry about that if you're planning on reusing your shotgun cartridges.  If you're doing that, I suggest that you look up detailed instructions or take a class: I'm really not the guy to ask about that.  Anyways, most slugs are best fired out of a shotgun with a rifled barrel: spinning gives the bullet stability by "averaging out" any imperfections in the bullet's weight, just like how a spinning gyroscope would work.  This explains why this weight distribution is called the gyroscopic effect.  However, this rifling also makes shotgun pellets spread out in a ring, thanks to the effects of centrifugal "force."  At close range, this doesn't matter so much, but it becomes more and more problematic the further away you go.  A slug gun isn't meant to fire shot, so it doesn't do it well.  No surprises there.
  A smoothbore shotgun has a smooth, unrifled barrel.  It lets the shotgun pellets fly around randomly, filling the shotgun's cone of fire instead of ringing it.  But--and there's always a drawback, isn't there?--the smooth barrel doesn't give a bullet spin, making any slugs fired from it fly about as well as musket balls.  Normal slug plus smoothbore shotgun equals control failure.  Again, no surprises.
  But smoothbore shotguns have a kind of slug that they can fire accurately.  These slugs have rifling along their outsides which lets them spin in a smooth barrel.  Since spin = gyroscopic effect, the bullets fire true.  With this innovation, the shotgun has surpassed rifled barrels.  A rifled slug in an unrifled barrel may not be as accurate as an unrifled slug in a rifled barrel (I don't know), but it's certainly good enough to hit enemies a good ways away.  Adding that to the shotgun's ability to fire shot effectively, and it becomes the clear choice for versatile use.  Unless you've got a shotgun with interchangeable barrels, in which case that one wins.  Or if you've got a shotgun with multiple barrels and feeds.  Then that wins.

I'll stop.

Shotguns, part 1.

Before I get into the meat of the subject of shotguns, I need to address one misconception: Shotguns aren't just close-range weapons: in a standard shotgun barrel, any shells you fire will only spread by about one inch per yard--and that's in diameter.  At 25 yards, the shot spread is only two feet wide!  And at close, close range--let's say 4 or five yards--you'll only have that many inches as your margin of error when you fire.  If you use a shotgun, you still have to be pretty much on target, and you'll almost never hit a zombie next to the one you’re targeting.  But thanks to 00 (double-aught) buckshot and dangerously massive shotgun slugs, you stand a pretty good chance of hitting anything behind your target.  Since this might include your buddies, though, remember to check what's around your target before you fire (this applies when you use any gun of any caliber, but if you use a shotgun, you really have to remember this).  Shotguns aren't the zombie hunter’s dream , but they're definitely not a terrible choice of weaponry.  They work like artillery, load about as many different types of ammo (but we'll get back to that later), and destroy in their effective range (which, keep in mind, changes depending on the ammo type you're using).  In fact, they're a great complement to anything long-range, which might be why some people put them under their assault rifles.  Just a thought.