Friday, September 21, 2012

Choose your (hand to hand) weapon!

So, on my last post, I said that we would visit hand-to-hand combat the next week. Well, that was a few weeks ago.

Let's make it short and sweet. Just like the strike range we are talking about. Guns are great. They are effective and devastating.

They do have several severe drawbacks:
  • They are loud
  • They require ammunition
  • They jam and require maintenance and cleaning
  • They are loud
Let's examine some of these points:

They take ammunition. And ammunition is heavy. Like, it's lead. Take my new tactical vest (GASP! I haven't bragged on it yet!). That means you have approx 120 rounds of .223/5.56mm, 40 rounds of .45 and maybe another 40 rounds of .30-.06. That's not even that much ammo. 200 rounds, right? Well, it adds up. Quick. With all the magazines and cartridges, that's 15-20 pounds....not counting the weapons themselves!

I can hear you now: "That's ok. I can scavenge as I go." Well, sure. But, if you are popping off mags every few seconds, you are probably in quite the hurry. The last thing you want to be thinking about is, where do I find more ammo?

Guns require cleaning and maintenance. Sometimes they just jam, and it's usually at the wrong time. Heck, happens to me all the time just bird hunting! It's a potentially deadly problem. In the EOTWAWKI, you won't have a gun smith on hand to fix your problems when you are in a pinch. Nor will you have a gun shop to get an warranty exchange.

Yes, I realize that I posted "They are loud" twice. Why? Well, in the zombie apocalypse (and if you haven't figured this out by now, I realize that there is no such thing as zombies...so it applies to ANY apocalypse), attractive attention to yourself is a BAD thing. The more you shoot, the more come after you. So you shoot more. You see where this is going? It's an exponential problem. In my world, we would call that a "higher order equation".

Sure, that's probably looking at the glass half empty. First thing that comes to mind is, if you are in a rural environment, a shot or two wouldn't be THAT bad. But in the case of suppressing firepower, even being in the great outdoors won't hide you forever.

Silencers are a way to get around this problem. But, silencers are expensive. Let's say I have 3 firearms that I would employ. That's AT LEAST $2,000 in silencers....not including threaded barrels and any gun smithing that you might need. Not to mention the raised eyebrows that the ATF might have if you call your folks over at Yankee Hill or Midwayusa ship you 3 silencers over a short period of time.

Ok, so lets say you are a big baller...which I am not...and you DO have silencers for all your weapons. Let's say you have one for your long range weapon, say a .30.-06, your assault rifle in .223/5.56mm and handgun in .45. Those weapons still only shoot as long as you have ammo for them.

OK OK OK. Lot's of problems with them, though we all admit that they are a superior choice. But, in the application of short range...say...in a suburban environment? We have our noise under control, but operating room may become a concern. Your sidearm shouldn't be a problem, but your long guns require several feet of room to operate. If things get close quarters, you may not be able to bring your weapon to bear. Other than to club them with it. Now, if you have an old 1911 sidearm, that's not the end of the world. But with most precision firearms, bouncing it off of people's heads would probably void your warranty. And your ability to survive when it quits working. Or blows up in your face.

Another option is the old bow and arrow. It's a fantastic weapon that was the pinnacle of weaponry for 1,000 years. The ammunition is reusable. It's silent.  But, it too poses some serious consideration. Arrows DO break. And, if they don't break, they get dull.  You have a severely limited range. You have to retrieve them, which may not be particularly pleasant or smart. There is also some lethality concerns to it. It takes a LOT of practice to get good enough to make lethal shots with it. And, to be immediately lethal, we are talking about head shots. Then there is the problem with operating space. Sometimes, you may not have 3 feet to draw a bow.

Does that mean I am against it? Nope. Not at all. It CERTAINLY has it's place. But, it's severely limited. IF you are a good shot. IF you have a steady supply. IF you are dealing with short range, but not TOO close. Then, it's a solid choice. It's a terrific offensive weapon. But, if you are fighting for your life, then it's probably not your first choice.

So, we seem to have some trouble areas. Urban environments. Close quarters. Lots of baddies. You need something that is nearly silent, operates in close quarters, doesn't run out of ammunition. Capable of "one-and-done" blows. Something that I can wield as long as I can stand...and maybe beyond that. What are we talking about? Hand to hand weapons.

So, there are basically two types of hand to hand weapons with hybrids between them. We have blunt weapons and edged weapons.

Edged weapons are terrific tools of the trade. Nothing is more damaging than removing whole arms or legs. Or heads! But, while they have been used since the dawn of man, they present some interesting problems. They get dull. And when they get dull, they don't do the job as advertised, whether that is glancing blows that do no damage, or get stuck. And getting your weapon stuck in a zombie is a bad thing. Especially when you hank on the handle and pull a zombie into your lap. There are also some basic mechanics of materials problems (see, yall knew I would go all NASA engineer on you!) Basically, an edged weapon is thinnest at the blade. And for equal force exerted the smaller the area, the greater the pressure. The greater the pressure, the greater the stress. All that to say this: for a super sharp blade, you have a large possibility of cracking and destroying the blade on any hit. Any. The problem with the hack attack with edged weapons is, Zombies don't bleed to death, so other than cutting a head off, or just slowing them down, you aren't finishing the job. And, despite what the movies show you, hacking a head off is difficult...at least that's been my experience with hunting.

For the sake of time, we won't venture down the rabbit hole any more than that. Fact is, I have a few blades in my back. But, they wouldn't be my last line of defense.

What would? A blunt object. Blunt objects are impervious to damage. They inflict massive trauma. And, like the edged weapons, they require no ammunition and no operating room. As long as you still live, you can swing it.

Now, as far as the world is concerned, that could be an object, ANY object  from the rock our ancestors first picked up to a modern day...whatever. But, as I thought about what blunt object I would use, I thought of efficiency first. I want something that maximizes the devastation, is impervious to damage, ergonomic to use and carry, and possibly has other uses.

I have a hatchet in my bag. Fantastic tool. It's sharp on one end and blunt on the other. It has TONS of uses. However, the moment exerted by my on my foe is small. A moment is force times distance. Since the hatchet is 8 inches, it doesn't exert much of a moment. Meaning that I would have to wield it mightily.

So, what about an axe? It's like a hatchet, but bigger! We see it in all the horror movies! It has tons of uses as well. But, it's heavy. An axe head weighs 8 pounds. That's a ton (not really a ton) of weight to swing around. But, if it has a 4 foot handle and weighs 8 pounds and I exert a rotation speed of .....you see what I am saying. It's devastating. But again, it's heavy, and I already have a similar tool. Plus, a true axe has a fine blade. Which can have all the problems we have discussed already.

Police batons are terrific options. They fold up. They are light. They extend to long lengths. but again, without enough weight, it doesn't deliver the blows we need. In fact, a police baton is a weapon not even built to disable, but to discourage. That's not what we need.

I thought about a mallet or maul. It certainly has it's multi-tool use. It doesn't have the problems with the axe, as far as dulling. But, it still has some of it's problems, like weight.

So, we want something REAL blunt, and fairly long. Something that is light to carry but heavy enough to deliver deadly blows. Something that is ergonomic. Something that is tough. Something that could be used for multiple things. Something easy to store.

I tried and tried to think about something that had other uses that I could justify using. There just wasn't anything that I could think of that met all the criteria. But there was one that met almost all of them. While some of my ideas were just "ok" at most criteria and "great" in others, this one was perfect in all aspects. The simplicity of it was astounding. It is something that you all have in your house. It weighs in at 20-30oz. It's something everyone in america has used before.

The baseball bat. The PERFECT hand to hand zombie weapon.