In a recent interview at The Washington Post, Brooks was asked the following:
Ashburn, Va.: My friend and I are having a heated debate here, could you help us settle it? He says that a sawed-off shotgun is the preferred shotgun to blow zombie heads off, because it is less cumbersome and not detrimental to the carrier's mobility. I say that a standard shotgun is best, because the sawed-off's range is too short to be effective. You would need to get much too close to the offending zombie in order to get a good shot off. Can you settle this once and for all?
Max Brooks: BOTH shotguns are a problem. How many 12 guage rounds can you stuff in your pants? Shotgun shells are big, heavy and give you least bang for your bug, litteraly. Better stick with a .22, or even better, something that doesn't need to be reloaded like a machete. And don't worry about shooting zombies at long range. If they're that far away, just walk in the oposite direction.
This answer is indicative of Brooks’ statements in The Zombie Survival Guide, as well as many other interviews. The problem is; it is plain wrong. Brooks is a great author, as World War Z shows, but he doesn’t know shit about zombie engagement, and his views are endangering the living all over the globe who buy into his gospel.
Now, on this subject, I agree, a 12 gauge
isn’t the optimal round for zombie engagement.
However, to suggest that a .22 is a better choice is simply ridiculous. Yes, a .22 round can kill a zombie. So can a pencil. Both are great to take down zombies if you
are A) Extremely skilled with the weapon OR B) Extremely lucky. Otherwise, get fucked.
In the concealed carry world, where a lethal shot to the body cavity or even the femoral artery in the leg can stop an attacker, there is debate on whether a .32 ACP, .38 Special, .380, or 9mm is the minimal round for self defense. The .22 LR doesn’t even come into the conversation, and these are situations that do not include the requirement to pierce a human skull with enough energy to destroy the function of the brain to stop the threat.The idea that a .22 LR “bounces around” inside the skull and thus causes as much trauma as a .45 ACP in a headshot is an urban legend, one that is unfortunately propagated by Brook’s writings. Can it happen? Yes; just as a slingshot COULD launch a ball bearing that goes through the soft spot in a zombie’s skull and drop them. But the idea of the .22 LR being that lethal in untrained hands against a zombie is, in all reality, a joke. Advocating the .22 LR as an effective zombie-stopping round is just plain irresponsible.
I mentioned earlier that I didn’t
disagree that a 12 gauge round wasn’t the best anti-zombie cartridge. Why, with all my earlier ranting, would I say
this? Simple. It is overkill for the capacity-to-kill
ratio. Yes, 12 gauge buckshot or slug
will blow the fuck out of a zombie head.
BUT…12 gauge rounds are big and heavy.
Even considering a bite-only infection vector (that is to say
discounting splash fluid infection), the 12 gauge is devastatingly effective
against a single or small number of zombie adversaries, but not practical over
long term engagements due to the limited amount of rounds in your weapon and those
that you can carry. Also, 12 gauge
buckshot rounds, while effective, have a limited range. Now, Brooks has asserted (while at the same
time advocating the superbly ineffective .30 carbine round for some reason)
that you should never engage Zombies at range, but if a mob of 20 Zombies is
shambling towards my house, I sure would love to be able to start picking them
off reliably at a range past 20 yards.
If resupply is not a problem, I actually advocate the P90 or PS90 in 5.7x28mm, this weapon fires a high-velocity round that will easily penetrate a skull, provide enough kill energy to scramble the brain, and has a great magazine capacity and economy when it comes to carrying a large number of rounds on a person.
Unfortunately, the P90 and the associated 5.7x28mm round are rare in the US due to economics and bullshit government regulations. It is also extremely expensive. With this in mind, the average civilian would be better served outfitting themselves with a good 5.56x45mm or 7.62x39mm semi-automatic rifle, or even a good 9mm carbine for zombie engagement, along with of course a reliable 9mm or .45 ACP sidearm. The standard intermediate cartridge fired from a semi-automatic rifle, along with most pistol calibers fired from carbine-class weapons in semi-automatic mode will efficiently penetrate a zombie skull and drop the undead. All that being said; I wouldn’t throw away a 12 gauge shotgun if I had to grab it to drop shamblers. It blows big holes in things quite efficiently.Last, but not least, I have to argue against this idea that the machete is the ideal anti-Zombie hand-to-hand weapon. To stop a zombie you must destroy the head, i.e. crush its skull and incapacitate the brain. A machete just isn’t the weapon to do that task. Don’t believe me? Take a machete and try and hack through a coconut in single swipe. It’s hard to do and takes a lot of practice. A mace or even a simple hatchet serves the purpose much better. A machete is made to cut foliage, period. Just like Brook’s statements that a .22 or a .30 carbine is the ideal zombie defense round, his statements that a machete is the ideal close combat zombie weapon is not only flawed, it will get people killed.
Max Brooks is a great writer. But please don’t think that this means he knows what he is talking about when it comes to tactical engagement of the undead. He will get you killed if you buy into his bullshit.