With the recent explosion in popularity of The Last of Us, a television show based on the PlayStation game of the same name which involves a sort of mushroom based zombie apocalypse, the conversations around the office have once again turned back to some familiar old topics. How does one survive such a thing? What is the best way to prepare, what is the best this or that piece of everyday carry item is going to prove the crucial key to victory?
The most recent phrase I hear in these discussions is ‘shopping at the neighbors;’ the concept being that one doesn’t need to be a hoarder or a prepper to gain a lifesaving stockpile when you can just wait for those around you with said stockpiles to screw up and get eaten by rabid zombie deer or flattened by space elephants.
Or, if you were the type to consider banditry, you could always choose to take their things directly with force. Both options have their pros and cons, such as not being as good at burglary as you thought or getting shot trying to rob someone, and either way it's ethically murky.
On the other hand, there is a minimum level of preparedness that is needed to make it past the initial shock of such an event and ensure you have access to proteins. Let us dip a toe into the world of multi-use weapons.
A fairly old concept, the idea of a weapon built for multiple uses is a commonplace part of discussions of this type. Even the military has a few of the more interesting entries, like the M6 Aircrew Survival Rifle which has both .22 long rifle and .410 shotgun barrels in an over / under combination. For this discussion we’ll stay out of the exotics and stick with what normal folk can get their hands on.
Vepr 12 Defender – Produced in the early 2000’s as a direct competitor to the Saiga-12 shotgun, the Vepr 12 Defender is patterned after the original Kalashnikov rifle and built on the heavier RPK light machine gun receiver. Yes, you heard that right, a 12-gauge AK-47.
In a survival situation, a shotgun is a great tool, especially if there are multiple magazine tubes or it is magazine fed allowing you to rapidly change from the copper jacketed slugs you can use for deer and zombies to birdshot for small game and looters. The Vepr is box or drum magazine fed, and as one of the children of the AK they are difficult to jam or break. There is even a folding stock variant if you need to save room in your bug out bag.
Remington 700 Light Tactical Rifle – Used by military, law enforcement, and hunters for decades, the Remington 700 is a reliable, simple to use bolt action hunting rifle typically chambered for .308, but variations exist for other rounds as well.
Used for hunting, the 700 is effective at distances in excess of 1000m, and with a little practice reloading can be done quickly. If you can’t find the M24 military version with the combat style pistol grip, you can easily find chassis systems to convert to a standard model. Sure, there may be better rifles for distance, for speed, but not many with simplicity and reliability. It doesn’t hurt that the rounds are ridiculously easy to come by; remember that in an apocalypse, stuff runs out. Due to its slow rate of fire, you will need to carry a secondary weapon for close in emergencies.
Literally Any AR-15 Variant – The Lego gun of America, the Armalite Rifle Model 15 (or 10 if you want to stick to that 7.62) really can’t be beat. When drafting this article, I thought about all the options available, all the cool new niche things Shot Show has on display… But at the end of the day so many mods and options available for the AR-15 that not discussing it would be impossible.
Barrels, butt stocks, sights, suppressors, everything is customizable, and parts are everywhere. They do require more maintenance, but if a part breaks during Red Dawn you won’t have to look too hard to replace it.
Honorable Mention: Caliber Adaptors
For certain types of weapon systems, there exists a very cheap and easy option to give your firearms variations. This is a device that is dropped into the chamber of a barrel that changes its dimension to allow for a different cartridge to be fired. For example, you could drop one into a break barrel shotgun to allow you to fire rifle rounds through it. Versions that work for semi-automatics as well, which would allow you to fire cheaper or smaller ammunition when you needed to for small game or target practice. If the weapon you choose to fight and hunt with has this option available, you would be a fool not to take it.