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Blades are overrated in zombie fiction

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I just had to say it! Blades are wonderful weapons when used against living creatures because they help you in the task of making sure someone or something's blood stops being inside them.

With zombies, cutting is useless unless you pierce through the skull (yeah maybe you can cut tendons and whatnot but it's still not as efficient). Blades need cleaning, sharpening and oiling to stay in decent condition, and don't even get me started on what cutting dry bones (zombies often aren't all that fresh) does to a sharp edge, you'd need to go through the loud process of sharpening the blade every time you came back from cutting zombies, and that's if the edge didn't chip.

 

So where that leaves us is that the actual legendary zombie killer would never be something like a sword, katana, machete, and also not a heavy and tiring tool like a wood axe, it would in fact be... a mace, no, not a sledgehammer, a small mace.

A mace requires little to no maintenance, just clean it a little bit and you are peachy, they are actually light compared to most tools (the principle behind them was to create considerable striking force through moderate weight and a fairly high swing speed) and they were designed to deal blunt damage through armor.  The superior weapon to find in a zombie apocalypse is a medieval or renaissance mace, zombies don't guard themselves from blows, so the great disadvantage of the mace which is its predictable movement has no downsides against them.

In conclusion, zombie movies and games need to step up their skull bashing game, no slicey dicey, smashy crushy.

 

This message is sponsored by the Flanged Mace Enthusiasts Club.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, NoPizzaSad said:

I just had to say it! Blades are wonderful weapons when used against living creatures because they help you in the task of making sure someone or something's blood stops being inside them.

With zombies, cutting is useless unless you pierce through the skull (yeah maybe you can cut tendons and whatnot but it's still not as efficient). Blades need cleaning, sharpening and oiling to stay in decent condition, and don't even get me started on what cutting dry bones (zombies often aren't all that fresh) does to a sharp edge, you'd need to go through the loud process of sharpening the blade every time you came back from cutting zombies, and that's if the edge didn't chip.

 

So where that leaves us is that the actual legendary zombie killer would never be something like a sword, katana, machete, and also not a heavy and tiring tool like a wood axe, it would in fact be... a mace, no, not a sledgehammer, a small mace.

A mace requires little to no maintenance, just clean it a little bit and you are peachy, they are actually light compared to most tools (the principle behind them was to create considerable striking force through moderate weight and a fairly high swing speed) and they were designed to deal blunt damage through armor.  The superior weapon to find in a zombie apocalypse is a medieval or renaissance mace, zombies don't guard themselves from blows, so the great disadvantage of the mace which is its predictable movement has no downsides against them.

In conclusion, zombie movies and games need to step up their skull bashing game, no slicey dicey, smashy crushy.

 

This message is sponsored by the Flanged Mace Enthusiasts Club.

I hate to tell you, machetes and kukris would be incredibly effective. They're made to cut through wood, something that has a fairly similar consistency to a skull, and they do it well. Not to mention cutting the throat of a zombie would still work. Tri-point daggers (and similar) would be very effective at piercing skulls, etc. I agree that no one would ever use a katana, but that's mostly because nobody would really use a katana against a person, either.

Edited by PoshRocketeer

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Not as useful against living beings, yes, but not useless. Blades can still dismember and sever connective tissues. A disabled zombie is less of a threat.

 

Maces are good, but require you to get up close and use a lot of force which would be tiring and dangerous. Outside of ranged weapons, it seems like spears should be the best zombie killing weapon in *most* situations. They don't require much training or as much physical fitness to be used effectively and are perfectly capable of going through a face or head all while keeping the user much more safe. With a lot of people and with it being easier to disengage with, fresh replacements would be easier to cycle in. A shield wall with long spears behind would be devastating against zombie hordes.

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4 hours ago, PoshRocketeer said:

I hate to tell you, machetes and kukris would be incredibly effective. They're made to cut through wood, something that has a fairly similar consistency to a skull, and they do it well. Not to mention cutting the throat of a zombie would still work. Tri-point daggers (and similar) would be very effective at piercing skulls, etc. I agree that no one would ever use a katana, but that's mostly because nobody would really use a katana against a person, either.

I think you need to cut the spine, not just the throat, that's far more challenging.

Somewhat effective? Yes, I have both machetes and a real Nepalese kukri (the ones that aren't for tourists) at home, and while the weight of the blade and the thickness would do considerable damage to a skull, you always run the risk of having it stuck when you punch through the bone, axes work just like that too, that small delay can be deadly, and isn't a concern with blunt objects. Spears can also end up lodged and make removal difficult (not as often), even practice arrows (they don't have a barbed head and are far easier to remove) sometimes end up embedded into objects (or living creatures) and can be challenging to remove, this small delay would be potentially deadly given the circumstances. Given enough people, a wall of pikes might be the best, but for a lone person or a small group, a shield (or something functionally similar) and a mace, would produce the best results, they aren't all that heavy, around 1,5kilos mostly.

And I'll emphasize it again, the maintenance of long blades is a massive oversight by most depictions, they lose edge at a ridiculous speed when in constant use, and very few blades are made of stainless steel so rust will be a certainty without proper cleaning (a mace doesn't mind the rust so much).

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Posted (edited)

I think a skull crusher mace would be the most effective and durable melee weapon in a zombie apocalypse. Still, i don't think more than a handful of people would have access to a weapon's grade skull crusher mace in case of a zombie apocalypse.

Machetes and axes are the best weapons you will realistically have access to in a zombie apocalypse scenario. Metal pipes? They could work, but they will probably be unusable after killing 1 or maybe 2 zombies. Knives and other small weapons? Probably useless even in the hands of an expert.
Even after saying all this... melee is subpar alternative in a zombie scenario. You would be too close to comfort and they should only be used as a side-weapon. Something like a composite bow or a professional crossbow would be the best long term alternative. Stealthy, deadly and with reusable ammo (at least for a couple of shots for the arrows). 
Guns should be also OK during the first days while everything is a complete chaos. But after most of the people is dead or evacuated, a single shot of a revolver or small gun would bring all the raiders and zombies from the whole city to your location.

Edited by fjrevoredo

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, NoPizzaSad said:

I think you need to cut the spine, not just the throat, that's far more challenging.

Somewhat effective? Yes, I have both machetes and a real Nepalese kukri (the ones that aren't for tourists) at home, and while the weight of the blade and the thickness would do considerable damage to a skull, you always run the risk of having it stuck when you punch through the bone, axes work just like that too, that small delay can be deadly, and isn't a concern with blunt objects. Spears can also end up lodged and make removal difficult (not as often), even practice arrows (they don't have a barbed head and are far easier to remove) sometimes end up embedded into objects (or living creatures) and can be challenging to remove, this small delay would be potentially deadly given the circumstances. Given enough people, a wall of pikes might be the best, but for a lone person or a small group, a shield (or something functionally similar) and a mace, would produce the best results, they aren't all that heavy, around 1,5kilos mostly.

And I'll emphasize it again, the maintenance of long blades is a massive oversight by most depictions, they lose edge at a ridiculous speed when in constant use, and very few blades are made of stainless steel so rust will be a certainty without proper cleaning (a mace doesn't mind the rust so much).

Getting your weapon stuck is absolutely a concern with blunt weapons, especially hammers. and... maces. Maces are incredibly cumbersome even if not all that heavy and would be extremely unhelpful if the enemy got too close, best you cold do is wallop them with the shaft and hope they get pushed back, small blunt weapons like hammers would absolutely get stuck inside a skull, large blunt weapons are extremely cumbersome to use. You would be no worse off with a machete than you would be with household blunt weaponry. While I agree that swords are absolutely worthless against something that either doesn't bleed out or requires substantial injury before their body finally gives up (without destroying the brain) , saying that blades in general are a bad choice is just objectively wrong. Your bias for crushing skulls is respectable, but  you're over-estimating their performance compared to other conventional weaponry. Spears, despite the chance of getting lodged would still give you a firm hold on the zombie with the ability to move them around pretty much as you wish, including onto their asses so you can remove it.

 

Personally? I'm a dwarf at heart, a climbing pick or a hand pick-head hatchet are my ideal weapons.

Edited by PoshRocketeer

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Posted (edited)
On 7/22/2021 at 8:56 PM, NoPizzaSad said:

I think you need to cut the spine, not just the throat, that's far more challenging.

Somewhat effective? Yes, I have both machetes and a real Nepalese kukri (the ones that aren't for tourists) at home, and while the weight of the blade and the thickness would do considerable damage to a skull, you always run the risk of having it stuck when you punch through the bone, axes work just like that too, that small delay can be deadly, and isn't a concern with blunt objects. Spears can also end up lodged and make removal difficult (not as often), even practice arrows (they don't have a barbed head and are far easier to remove) sometimes end up embedded into objects (or living creatures) and can be challenging to remove, this small delay would be potentially deadly given the circumstances. Given enough people, a wall of pikes might be the best, but for a lone person or a small group, a shield (or something functionally similar) and a mace, would produce the best results, they aren't all that heavy, around 1,5kilos mostly.

And I'll emphasize it again, the maintenance of long blades is a massive oversight by most depictions, they lose edge at a ridiculous speed when in constant use, and very few blades are made of stainless steel so rust will be a certainty without proper cleaning (a mace doesn't mind the rust so much).

 

Maintenance of any melee weapon would be something to deal with it, some more than others sure, like blades. But compared to when they were used in combat, blade maintenance is not quite as bad as it used to be since they aren't being damage by other blades or armor. Just bone hits.  A lot of common spear designs have very straight blades without barbs or other protrusions that are likely to get imbedded in your target. Even if they did, you have both hands to pull with and you're still safer to run away if you had to. Not to mention, a simple spear would be something most people in many situations would be able to fabricate without any special knowledge or uncommon tools. From sharpened wood (even better if fire hardened) to duct taped knives, Scrap metal, sharpened rebar.. Maybe not the best weapons there are, but easy to use and much safer. And most importantly, more available. Regardless of what is best, you can only use what you can get your hands on. 

 

The major drawback of a spear is also what give it is power, the size. Moving through an interior location, especially an unfamiliar one, and you'll probably need a secondary weapon. Zombies aside, a spear would put you at an significant advantage against a hostile human armed with a any melee weapon with less reach. If you can't get close enough to swing your weapon without getting impaled, it doesn't matter much what it is. In controlled interior locations, like while on the defense, if you don't have a ranged weapon a couple people with spears down a corridor from you are basically untouchable. 

 

 

But really, it also depends on the person swinging it. A strong person with a real sword like a claymore or albion sword WILL chop your head off or most/all of your torso with one good swing. I seem to recall seeing a video where some big dude pretty easily chopped a pig up with a claymore, and pigs are generally more robust than we are. I would probabably take an axe that could be wielded with both hands before a mace. Maybe a chance to get stuck, but again you can use both hands to pull it free. My main issue with a mace style weapon is that it's only great for headshots. Maybe you could break limbs with it, but you're not really fully shutting down the zombie without killing it. An axe can kill as well as chop off limbs much more easily. You can also chop wood and doors with an axe, and hunt and cook with a spear.

 

There are probably some Youtube channels that address a lot of these questions. Probably Skallagrim and Shadaversity, have to go check out more of their vids.

Edited by BoogieMan

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I agree with the OP.

 

But I'd be happy with a decent weight ball peen hammer.

 

I do have a 1500s era reproduction mace, but id worry the flanges are thin and pointy enough that there could be a risk of lodging one of them into the skull. Never bashed brains before, so I dont know how easy it would be to extract from the skull.

 

And decapitations are hard. Even when lying still on a chopping block. And often times, executioners that didn't take the head in a single stroke(depending on time period/location), he could catch some serious flak from his employer. I'd be wary of machetes and such for that reason alone. Especially without a sold surface on the other side of said neck, a lot of kinetic energy will be lost as the jerks away from the blow.

 

Not saying it's impossible, but most folk wouldn't be able to strike with proper edge alignment. I know I probably couldn't, and I've messed around with proper swords before. And an incomplete stroke could see the blade lodged between vertebrae in the neck.

 

Look up videos of hema practitioners doing test cuts should give you the jist of it.

Edited by Papa Juliet Whiskey

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On 7/23/2021 at 10:05 PM, BoogieMan said:

 

But really, it also depends on the person swinging it. A strong person with a real sword like a claymore or albion sword WILL chop your head off or most/all of your torso with one good swing. I seem to recall seeing a video where some big dude pretty easily chopped a pig up with a claymore, and pigs are generally more robust than we are.  

This is totally doable,  but the folk doing it have been swinging swords for a bit. If your blade's edge is misaligned with the direction of the cut, the blade will kinda bounce off. It'll cut, bit the severity of the cut lies almost entirely on edge alignment, and where on the blade you strike, so it won't necessarily dismember/decapitate. That, and your target is moving, so getting a successful cut like in those videos is likely out of the skill range of pretty much anyone in the modern times. I probably couldn't do it.

 

Katana's can be a little more forgiving, as the blade isn't spring tempered, so the edge will help the blade align with the cut much better, where as any modern European medieval sword reproductions nowadays is tempered spring steel, so the blade is more likely to wobble and loose a lot of energy in all the wrong ways. Unfortunately, a katana under the wrong stress will bend, but since the edge is usually a harder temper, the actual edge will chip, crack or snap. So it will likely permanently break, just like the ones in PZ with routine use.

 

Someone earlier also mentioned stainless steel blades. If it is sword length, you do not want to use it as a weapon at all. Its blade won't flex, it won't bend, it'll just sna. Anything with a blade over 12 inches or so would want to avoid stainless for this reason. Not to mention, if it even has a tang, that would be its weak point. Blade could possibly snap without hitting anything, and become a dangerous projectile to anything that breathes.

Edited by Papa Juliet Whiskey

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Yeah, getting through the spine can be very unreliable, how much a weapon cuts tends to be exaggerated on most depictions, that's why I insisted on that.

When cutting the head of an animal you mostly serrate the edge against the neck, most human decapitations work the same way, cutting a head clean off was something of an art form in the old days, to do that on a battlefield required extreme ability and or luck. Also the technique to use a machete when compared to a sword are so different that I get upset just thinking about it lol (not really), a machete works more like an axe and a sword more like a knife than what they work like each other. Chopping and slicing are very different types of motions, and they have very different advantages and disadvantages. 

What really convinces me about the blunt side of things aside from maintenance and lower skill level needed though, is that skulls aren't fresh in zombies, the bone isn't alive, and that makes it far more brittle to impact. Having shattered a dry human skull with a hammer myself (for science reasons), I can tell you dry bone is easy to smash, fresher bone can be trickier. Aside from that, any weapon heavier than two kilograms will generally tire someone very quickly, so the bigger toys could prove challenging to anyone who isn't an absolute beast in both aerobic capacity and muscular strength.

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   Polearms in general would be the most effective anti-zombie melee weapon.   
Google what they look like, it's a spear, hammer, and pickaxe all on the end of a long pole.    
     All of which are made to do incredible damage to a human head, so something along those lines would work the best, as it'd not only do a lot of damage but as well as that, give you a long reach so you don't have to get in grabbing range of the zombie. 

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On 7/28/2021 at 3:04 PM, NoPizzaSad said:

Yeah, getting through the spine can be very unreliable, how much a weapon cuts tends to be exaggerated on most depictions, that's why I insisted on that.

When cutting the head of an animal you mostly serrate the edge against the neck, most human decapitations work the same way, cutting a head clean off was something of an art form in the old days, to do that on a battlefield required extreme ability and or luck. Also the technique to use a machete when compared to a sword are so different that I get upset just thinking about it lol (not really), a machete works more like an axe and a sword more like a knife than what they work like each other. Chopping and slicing are very different types of motions, and they have very different advantages and disadvantages. 

What really convinces me about the blunt side of things aside from maintenance and lower skill level needed though, is that skulls aren't fresh in zombies, the bone isn't alive, and that makes it far more brittle to impact. Having shattered a dry human skull with a hammer myself (for science reasons), I can tell you dry bone is easy to smash, fresher bone can be trickier. Aside from that, any weapon heavier than two kilograms will generally tire someone very quickly, so the bigger toys could prove challenging to anyone who isn't an absolute beast in both aerobic capacity and muscular strength.

"It won't get stuck! It's got a blood groove."

It bothers me that folk who know enough about wedged weapons somehow never learned the meaning of a fuller. Like the human body cavity is an airtight vaccume when pierced with a sword.

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17 hours ago, LeetgamerBoi said:

   Polearms in general would be the most effective anti-zombie melee weapon.   
Google what they look like, it's a spear, hammer, and pickaxe all on the end of a long pole.    
     All of which are made to do incredible damage to a human head, so something along those lines would work the best, as it'd not only do a lot of damage but as well as that, give you a long reach so you don't have to get in grabbing range of the zombie. 

The only downside to weapons with reach would be accuracy. Try hanging up a normal broom on a hook on the wall holding it by the base near the actual brush, and you should catch my meaning.

 

Granted, polearms were highly effective weapons, and certainly works as an excellent force multiplier, but you definatly need some practice with it, just like nearly every other weapon.

 

My fear would be a miss that gets the shaft bound or tangled by other approaching zeds. One man with a spear against several of them should consider finding a bottleneck to thin their approach. I would recommend several easy to deploy sidearms, because there are plenty of circumstances that may force you do drop the weapon.

 

Now if you had some platform to stand on out their reach, but within the reach of the poleaxe/bec corbin/staff mace(disclaimer - I don't know for certain if staff maces are weapons that were used historically, or only a byproduct of medieval fantasy fiction/games),  you could be in for fun times. Well, assuming you actually have an angle you can strike from.

 

I'm pretty sure you can deliver skull cracking hits with a quarter staff of decent make, and mitigate the chances of getting stuck in bone to a degree. Not to mention that you can shift grip, and strike with either end, which could be helpful dealing with any zeds that get to close to effectively strike with the head.

 

 

I guess the more I think of it, the more I'd settle on some kind of hammer/club/mace with some kind of armor on your other arm. Shields in the traditional sense might not be so great, as their implementation was just as much to block incoming blows as it was to hide your own angle of attack. Block your opponent's view of your weapon, so he can't easily read where your next attack may becoming from. That's a feature I'd call pretty useless if used against the dim wits of the walking dead.

 

Regardless of which weapon anyone uses though, I think is irrelevant in the end. 

 

This is how you died, after all.

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17 hours ago, LeetgamerBoi said:

   Polearms in general would be the most effective anti-zombie melee weapon.   
Google what they look like, it's a spear, hammer, and pickaxe all on the end of a long pole.    
     All of which are made to do incredible damage to a human head, so something along those lines would work the best, as it'd not only do a lot of damage but as well as that, give you a long reach so you don't have to get in grabbing range of the zombie. 

The only downside to weapons with reach would be accuracy. Try hanging up a normal broom on a hook on the wall holding it by the base near the actual brush, and you should catch my meaning.

 

Granted, polearms were highly effective weapons, and certainly works as an excellent force multiplier, but you definatly need some practice with it, just like nearly every other weapon.

 

My fear would be a miss that gets the shaft bound or tangled by other approaching zeds. One man with a spear against several of them should consider finding a bottleneck to thin their approach. I would recommend several easy to deploy sidearms, because there are plenty of circumstances that may force you do drop the weapon.

 

Now if you had some platform to stand on out their reach, but within the reach of the poleaxe/bec corbin/staff mace(disclaimer - I don't know for certain if staff maces are weapons that were used historically, or only a byproduct of medieval fantasy fiction/games),  you could be in for fun times. Well, assuming you actually have an angle you can strike from.

 

I'm pretty sure you can deliver skull cracking hits with a quarter staff of decent make, and mitigate the chances of getting stuck in bone to a degree. Not to mention that you can shift grip, and strike with either end, which could be helpful dealing with any zeds that get to close to effectively strike with the head.

 

 

I guess the more I think of it, the more I'd settle on some kind of hammer/club/mace with some kind of armor on your other arm. Shields in the traditional sense might not be so great, as their implementation was just as much to block incoming blows as it was to hide your own angle of attack. Block your opponent's view of your weapon, so he can't easily read where your next attack may becoming from. That's a feature I'd call pretty useless if used against the dim wits of the walking dead.

 

Regardless of which weapon anyone uses though, I think is irrelevant in the end. 

 

This is how you died, after all.

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