Guns, guns, guns. That’s what we all wanted when the dead started biting. A Colt .45 sold for its weight in gold back then, bullets too. But we quickly learned that guns create more problems than they solve. Ammo is scare, shots are loud, and gunplay often let’s trouble know exactly where to find you.
The experienced survivor learned to appreciate the simpler things in life, like pickaxes and crossbows. Those weapons are silent and effective, it’s true, but history still has a few things to teach the iPad generation about how to survive in the Wild that they can’t learn at Wal-Mart.
The Halberd: The Gold Standard of Stabbing
This weapon was the bread and butter of the famous Swiss mercenaries of the 14th and 15th centuries. A peasant sliced Charles the Bold in half and ended a war with a halberd. The halberd was used by the Swiss mercenaries who could name their own price from the Kings and Emperors of Europe. The halberd is the weapon that they invented when they had to deal with guns and heavy cavalry at the same time. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for you. The Swiss mercenaries were so scary the Pope still keeps some around in case God screws up. It is a true piece of martial art, elegantly lethal and brutally simple.
The halberd is a fantastic zombie weapon because it provides versatility and range. You can chop with the axe head, you can stab with the spear head, and its little blade can be used as a hook to control range or pull a biter off a buddy. Whether you need to control a corridor, pacify a fence, or just kill everything in sight, the halberd is the tool for the job. It’s also a stellar can opener. Its six foot length provides excellent utility from a defensive position on a roof or in a tree, and keeps you out of chomping range when you’re out in the open.
You aren’t going to find a whole lot of halberds floating around (and if you do it’s probably a display piece, not a weapon), but as you can see from the picture above, it’s pretty much just a hunk of steel plate with stabby bits. Steel plate can be found in buildings, water heaters, heavy-duty vehicles, and of course there’s probably a pile of it in any abandoned hardware store. Any handyman worth his salt can craft a halberd blade with a torch and a grinding stone. The final product might look like it was made in Mordor, but it will be a reliable and versatile weapon against the zombie horde.
Aztec Armor and You: Stay Cool and Stay Alive
When you think armor, you probably think of guys in steel plate banging away on each other, or soldiers in kevlar.
Steel plate can’t be found outside of a museum and unsoiled kevlar is really hard to find these days. But the Aztecs had an armor technology that can give a survivor a quick and easy way to get bite-proof.
The Aztecs would sandwich layered cotton between an outer layer of cloth or leather. The resulting armor protects almost as well as steel. It’s also a hell of a lot easier to make. Anyone with a sewing kit can turn out a cotton armor suit using the materials they can find in any abandoned home or Hobby Lobby. Once again the results probably won’t get you on the cover of GQ, but then again GQ doesn’t exist anymore. The modern survivor is scared of teeth, not guns, so a tough layer of dense cotton will keep you safe against even the strongest zombie gnashers. You can create that cotton armor by taking a bed sheet, cutting the sheet into squares, and then sewing the squares together to create surprisingly tough armor pads. Sew those pads together, and viola: you look like a mattress. But you’ll appreciate your new look when a zombie clamps down on your wrist and you barely feel a pinch.
The clever survivor can add to the Aztec’s idea by sewing a folded square of chicken wire into the pads. The galvanized steel wire is ultra-light but will ensure that all a zombie gets when he strikes is a broken tooth.
These two blasts from the past require some work and creativity, but they’ll keep on keeping you alive long after your AR-15 is out of bullets.