With the The Walking Dead between seasons, GQ Magazine rang up the Zombie Research Society’s founder Matt Mogk, to discuss the efficacy of the signature weapons wielded by the various characters on the series, and how they might fare in a real apocalypse.

Hammer (Tyreese): “Hammers are pretty good—it’s a bludgeon weapon on one side and an edge weapon on another, so you can sort of pierce. But the problem with it is twofold: you want to avoid close hand-to-hand combat when possible with zombies. Getting really close to them is the only way they can hurt you. Secondly, you’re dealing with the deadliest, blood-born illness known to man. If you get a single drop of zombie blood in your eye or mouth, you’re going to turn into a raving maniac and try to eat your family. The last thing you want to do is start cutting zombies open and letting their blood go all over everything. It’s quiet, it’s easy to use, which is really important, and it’s hard to hurt yourself with, which is really important. But, you know, the downside is you have to be really close to use it.”

Crossbow (Daryl): “You don’t have to be close to use it—big advantage—and it’s quiet. The problem is, it’s very difficult to use. Anyone can pick up a hammer and hit somebody with it, but a hunting crossbow like that is really, really hard to load. This idea that you’re going to load a crossbow and shoot a zombie and then load it again instantly and shoot another zombie doesn’t really hold water. And how does he mysteriously have an endless supply of bolts?”

Machete (Glenn): “The machete’s pretty good in that you can stay a little further away from zombies than with the hammer. A machete is designed to cut things. Think of zombies as a big sack of toxic goo that you don’t want to get on you—why would you want to cut that sack open? Like the last thing you want to do is cut the big toxic sack open and get toxic crap everywhere that will potentially infect you.”

Katana sword (Michonne): “A katana is so easy to hurt yourself with because it’s long, and it’s super sharp and it’s a very special knife. You glance off the zombie and you hit yourself in the leg—well, you’re dead. You take it out of its sheath and accidently cut your hand as you’re taking it out—you’re dead. Katanas are not great if you’re not trained on it. As an average Joe walking down the street, I would much rather have a machete.”

Gun (Rick): “The disadvantage of the gun is that it’s loud. The last thing you want to do when zombies are walking around the planet is to start making a lot of noise. You might as well get on your roof with a dinner bell and say, ‘Hey! I’m over here! Come eat me!’ So, very loud. Secondly, he has a specific type of weapon that needs a specific type of ammunition. Once the ammunition runs out then you have to compare it to a hammer and it’s not as good as a hammer. But it loads really quickly and really easy to use.”

Fire poker (T-Dog, RIP): “It’s essentially like a giant screwdriver, more or less. The great thing about it is you can keep your distance. The only way to kill a zombie is to destroy their brain. You chop a zombie’s arm off with your machete, who cares? The zombie doesn’t care. It will still try to eat you. So, something like a poker where you can pierce directly in to the zombie’s head and out is very effective. All we want to do is pierce the brain however possible. A fireplace poker is essentially a hand-delivered bullet. Rather than shooting them and having the bullet penetrate the brain in a very limited way, you have a poker and you just go blonk! and you hit them right through the skull.”

So, what’s the best weapon to arm yourself against zombies?
“Probably the machete just because it has, it’s a little more practical, it has more uses and it’s kind of easier to use. But I prefer bludgeon weapons I like baseball bats, steel pipes, something like that. Because you don’t get points for killing zombies, it’s not a video game. You get points for staying alive. That’s it, and you don’t get a second life. I don’t care how many zombies I kill; all I want to do is get away. So anything that can help me create distance and get me away from there and be very easy to use and I don’t hurt myself with it, that’s what I want.”

Original post @:  www.gq.com : Rank the Zombie-Slaying Weapons of The Walking Dead by Jen Ortiz Feb. 03, 2014


  1. I am a fan of the 22LR but in edged weapons I’d go along with the Zulu short stabbing spear (the Iklwa devloped by Shaka Zulu, with a one foot head and a two foot staff). It is made for the melee… It revolutionized their warfare. It is long enough to keep you “out of reach” but short enough to deploy in tight situations (unlike the usual spear). The shape of the cutting edge will prevent anyone from grabbing it (and holding on) as the tip makes up about a third of the spear

    Of course, all this is moot when your weapons won’t penetrate the door of a deuce and a half as in a recent TWD episode. If your military weapons won’t do that (in this venue) then you might as well stick with a 22… short.

  2. Ok so apparently you seem to think that if we are on this site we are a bunch of week nerds that wont be able to cock a crossbow back fast and easy well on the record i have a crossbow like daryls his is a horton scout 150 in season 1- half of 3 mine is a horton summit 160 and i am trained to use it and it takes like nothing to pull it back fast for me so the crossbow is my main weapon. but in week and untrained hands the crossbow is not the best choice so just becouse i dont agree with this completely does not mean i dont see how it could be a bad choice for alot of ppl.

  3. some of you older sci fi fans might remember this but the best non projectile weapon I this would be an old star trek item from Amok time called the Lirpa.
    basically it is a weighted shaft about 6 foot long total. it has a weight about 10 pounds or so at one end and a razor sharp cutting blade at the other about 8 or so inches across. match that up with a .22 cal semi auto pistol just incase you “have to” reach out and touch someone from a distance.

    • Your logic is flawless. 🙂 I think longer weapons would be the best with shorter weapons (axes, knives, pistols, etc.) and maybe some type of body armor and a mask to protect yourself from possible and inevitable splatter of flesh and blood.

  4. Perhaps I missed seeing it in the show but I don’t seem to remember seeing anyone on TWD using either a sling or a slingshot and cannot, for the life of me, understand why not.

    The simple sling is one of mankind’s earliest ranged weapons and in the right hands with the right payload is quite capable of taking out a zombie at ranges in excess of 50 yards.

    The slingshot is really nothing more than an improved sling that is more versatile if somewhat more limited in range.

    Both weapons have the advantage of being relatively silent, extremely light, and fairly easy to use. However both do require significant practice with to become deadly accurate. Both weapons also have the advantage of being reasonably easy to make and able to use almost anything for ammunition as long as it’s fairly small ( under 2 inches for the sling and under 1 inch for the slingshot) and dense.

    Who knows – maybe the writers for the show could bring in someone who is an expert in their use at some point in the future.

  5. I’d go with an auto cocking crossbow. Parker bows Concorde with Quickdraw system.

    ranged, silent, easy to load and use and it has a scope.

    Those stupid zombies wont know what hit em.

    Well, they are zombies… so even if they saw what it was they still wouldn’t know.

  6. Dave – Thanks for the clarification on the type of zombie apocalypse we may well face at some point in the future.

    My youngest son got me turned on to zombie literature before TWD first aired and we have both been fans of zombie films (the good, the bad, and the really, really bad – quality didn’t matter) for decades. We have discussed multiple scenarios, always keeping in mind that Murphy may rear his pointy little head at any point, and in planning have always presumed the worst possible actually happening.

    While neither of us are “hardcore preppers” the discussions we have been having regarding the possibility of a zombie apocalypse (while great fun) it has caused us to expand our planning to cover the (very real) possibility of almost any type of apocalyptic event we might face in the not too distant future.

    • It’s why there are a number of “zombie” courses being taught in University– and it’s not all about survival. Zombies are a metaphor for our society– it’s why they’re so popular these days. I did a review of a great new documentary “Doc of the Dead” a while back– it really drives home that point. You should definitely check it out if you haven’t already. You and your son will love it. Also see the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s own website for preparing for the zombie apocalypse: http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm for a fun and informative take.

      • Dave – Thanks for the head’s up on “Doc of the Dead.” I switched from Dish to DirecTV (big mistake) in January and missed it on EPIX. I’ve made plans to watch it with my son when he gets back on shore in a couple of weeks. I was already aware of the CDC site and have forwarded the info on it to several teachers I know. I think if there were college level courses offered in the area I would sign up just for the grins and giggles, but living in the back woods of NW Alabama I doubt there are.

        Most people don’t want to think about, much less plan for what may be coming and that is unfortunate as a lot of needed skills and expertise will be needlessly lost because of this shortsightedness. I am not sure what the future holds and frankly, at my age, not really all that concerned. I do what I do for those members of the family that have evinced an interest in the future. Unfortunately that’s not everyone, but such is life. Personally I figure the safest place to be is going to be on the water and I have made my plans accordingly. I sincerely hope that none of my fears are realized, but as a former Marine and a former Scout Leader being prepared is second nature.

  7. I think Matt makes a mistake when he talks about the danger of zombie blood. These weapons here are in context of TWD action, and everyone is already infected anyway. You only die if the zombie gets his saliva into a wound, so some drops in your mouth or a spurt into your eye isn’t going to hurt you.
    That said, in terms of a hypothetical infectious thing, I would agree with Matt and begin my prepping with health protection such as safety goggles and masks.

    • Felix – Matt May not be wrong as there is no way of telling in just what form the ZA may appear and it’s worthwhile to prepare for any possible scenario – while I will agree with the necessity for wearing a mask that covers the mouth I have a problem with the goggles. I wear glasses and have found that goggles (even the high end ones) have a tendency to fog up when I become overheated – an event that could be deadly in the wrong circumstances. To that end I have opted to add a 1/2 and full face shield to my turn out gear. This has the added benefit of not getting potentially gore covered hands/gloves too close to either the nose or eyes.

      Of course my first, second, and third choices don’t include allowing anything infected within 50 yards of my person or position in the first place.

      • Felix and Francis: You both are right.

        This opening paragraph, though, makes all the difference:
        “With the The Walking Dead between seasons, GQ Magazine rang up the Zombie Research Society’s founder Matt Mogk, to discuss the efficacy of the signature weapons wielded by the various characters on the series, and how they MIGHT FARE IN A REAL APOCALYPSE.”

        When we say “real apocalypse” we are, of course, talking about the apocalypse as we generally speak about it here at the Zombie Research Society, and one that is generally accepted by most apocalyptists, and that involves likely a contagion that is spread virally from person to person, and dead person to dead person. Although we are using the weapons popular in “The Walking Dead” for discussion purposes, we are talking about the zombie apocalypse in general, not one specific to “The Walking Dead.” That was exactly why we added that caveat at the beginning of the article.

  8. Given the multitude of weapons available I would think that a spear with a narrow eight inch double sided blade on a six foot hardwood shaft with a socketed two and a half pound counter-balance ball made of brass or steel on the opposite end would be a most effective weapon for zombie elimination.

    • I agree that a spear, staff, or long handled axe would be the best overall choices. While I like machetes, the classic styles and designs are made with thinner blades that tend to flex and lack the weight and cutting potential of other tools. I would therefore suggest one of the newer and thicker blade designs which are handy, more versatile and easier to use. Some specific models would be blades from Ontario Knife Company, the Kershaw Camp 10 or the Condor Pack Golok. For many these are easier to transition to from large knives.

      Another point is that blades have sharp edges and points which are not as effective to totally incapable of keeping a walking corpse at bay unlike a long baseball bat or the handle of a shovel can. And thus one has to often choose between the ability to smash and bludgeon or the ability to slice and chop.

      Third point is that I read mention of “the skill” needed to use a crossbow or katana, etc. The fact is that anybody can learn how to use a weapon, but some of us will be more effective with a weapon that we have an understanding of and a natural knack to use. If the world goes into a chaotic breakdown, people will by necessity begin to train with weapons, traditional or improvised even if they have to train themselves. One doesn’t have to perform like a Shaolin Monk or learn all the moves. Simple and well learned or practiced moves will be the most beneficial to anyone. Think practical not flashy and don’t worry about what the uninformed or Mr. Karate expert tells you about needing years to perfect your skill. Battle has always been about hitting your opponent and neutralizing them quickly, not spinning and flipping your weapon or those ridiculous moves people do in competitions and exhibitions to wow the crowd.

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