Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shooting at zombies

Discussion of zombie invasion scenarios is the shooting fraternity's way of poking gentle fun at itself. For years there were people working out what-if plans in case the country were invaded (the Red Dawn scenario) or in case of the breakdown of constitutional rule (WROL) or some other massive cultural disaster (TEOTWAWKI), such as anarchy ensuing after a nationwide failure of the electrical grid. While the Second Amendment and all it stands for would be of obvious usefulness in a national emergency, none of the scenarios happened, year after year.

Thus was invented the zombie apocalypse scenario, a humorous way of lumping together all the awful what-if scenarios people had thought about. If you are ready for the zombie apocalypse, you are more than ready for any of the real world disasters mentioned above. We go to the range and have a good time shooting at zombie targets, which may, optionally, be rigged to bleed green blood when hit.  Obviously it is all a bit tongue in cheek, but there is a semi-serious purpose behind it, of being in practice just in case a disaster of some sort occurs.

Whether a real national emergency is a likely impossibility or, instead, an unlikely possibility, it does no harm to be in practice with your favored weapon and it might do you a substantial amount of good. It's not a bad thing to be up to snuff as a shooter even if nothing goes massively wrong, for there will always be incidents where the unfortunate need arises for plain old justifiable self defense.

My choice for the gun to bring to a  zombie apocalypse is a 12 gauge pump. It is a superb weapon for close defense. Close range is the only truly important scenario to consider because I can hide from other kinds of threats. I am merely a private citizen, not a soldier or policeman, so I have no duty to go forward to engage hostiles. I need something that will stop bad guy zombies if they come forward looking for me. Thus the shotgun is, or so it seems to me, an emminently sensible choice.

The JSSAP shotgun program conducted by the U.S. military concluded that a shotgun has twice the hit probability of a rifle and is nearly half again better than a submachine gun. Notice that while the submachine gun is now rare in military and police use, there are a whole lot of shotguns issued or available for issue.   A generation or two ago, many cop shops and military ground combat units had some buzzguns around. Live and learn.

The plain jane riot gun is just fine. The same basic configuration has been rolling the bad guys since around the turn of the last century. It is derived from the sporting shotgun: Take your basic duck blaster and put a shorter barrel on it, with a cylinder bore or only a slight amount of choke. Load the gun with large shot. All of that has simple and obvious reasons behind it.

At that, if you have a duck gun you don't really need a riot gun. Just take out the magazine plug and load with buckshot. If the gun has choke tubes, put in the most open one you have. The longer barreled gun is in some ways the  better weapon. It points more naturally and swings more smoothly. The riot gun's short barrel is merely for convenience in confined spaces and at close quarters.

I don't need a whole lot of tacticool stuff hung on the gun. A simple bead sight is fine because I'll be shooting buckshot. A sling is a good idea because I won't want to hold the gun in my hands all the time. Doing so is tiring, interferes with doing other things with my hands  and sometimes it makes bystanders nervous. I like quick release sling swivels so that if the strap is in the way I can quickly remove it and pocket it. A thick rubber recoil pad is a good idea if there are lots of zombies.

A fitting to mount a flashlight on the gun is getting into "maybe" territory. A light is useful for identifying your target but it also tells the zombies exactly where you are. On the plus side you can simply leave the light turned off if using it would create problems rather than avert them. So, on the whole, a light on the gun is a sound enough idea.

There are all manner of other things that can be mounted on a shotgun. All of them include downsides along with whatever advantages they offer. Ammo carriers on the gun increase the weight and bulk of the weapon and change its balance. Though they do a good job of keeping some spare ammo with the gun, they slightly reduce the gun's nimbleness. I think of the shotgun as first and foremost a snap shooting weapon, so anything that slows it down, or makes it more prone to snag on things, is going to make me wonder if that accessory is really a good  idea. Thus, I do not have a sidesaddle or butt cuff ammo carrier on my zombie gun.

Rifle sights are splendid if you intend to shoot slugs. You will not shoot slugs with real efficiency if you do not have sights. The red dot optical sight is an outstanding choice for slug shooting. It is fast, has no critical issues of eye placement and is more than precise enough for any shooting you would undertake with a slug fired from a smoothbore. When you are shooting shot loads you can turn off the dot if you find it distracting.

But I intend to shoot bird shooter style, both eyes on the target and the barrel in my peripheral cone of vision. I intend to fire shot loads, not slugs. I was more enthusiastic about slugs before the invention of ultra-tight patterning buckshot shells, such as Federal FliteControl and Hornady VersaTite. Those shells are dangerous to a zombie a good deal farther than old fashioned buckshot.

Mounting an optical sight on a gun I probably won't shoot slugs out of is a waste of space and contributes clutter to my visual field. So, though the dot  sight is cool as the dickens, I'll leave it at home.

If it turns out I'm all wrong in my assumptions, I could add a sight bracket and a sight to the shotgun, but switching to a rifle might make more sense. Of course I don't think I'm wrong. Does anyone, really, until after the fact?  Anyway, when the zombies come shambling over the hill, I'm grabbing my shotgun.

Product mentions (I get a commission)

Get your zombie targets at Amazon.

This bracket allows you to mount a light on an 870  shotgun receiver.

This less expensive option mounts a light on a shotgun's barrel.

How do you mount a sling on a shotgun? I'm glad you asked.

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