D.I.Y. Zombie Survival Rifle Build

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By John J. Woods •  10 min read

Zombies are everywhere.  It seems like they are at every turn these days.  I saw one in Wal-Mart just this morning.  They can often be seen in the fresh meat section for the obvious reasons of attraction.  If you look close enough as you go about your business, you will see them too.

The Zombie Profiled

Some consider this whole zombie thing an epidemic.  If it is such a serious threat to the security of our world, country, society, our families and to each of us as individuals, then how shall we defend ourselves against an eventual onslaught of mindless, quasi-human blood-crazed creatures?  How indeed?

Think first where all the incidences where the term zombie is applied to many things we hear and see nearly every day.  It is currently pervasive in marketing angles even at a stretch.  Take for example a recent ad by Grizzly Long Cut Snuff in a current issue of Outdoor Life. The ad line reads “You think you have enough guns.  Then, the zombies come.”   What in the world that has to do with snuff frankly eludes me (tobacco is not one of my vices), but the point is zombies are given recognition even by marketing gurus (or recent Z-generation college graduates) with the thought it would help sell their products.  Scary.

Since we often rely on the brain source Wikipedia to fill in many of the gaps and voids of things we generally don’t understand on the surface, then we should naturally expect the Wiki-Org to have a dissertation on the term zombie. And indeed they do.

“A zombie (origin Haitian Creole; North Mbundu) is an animated corpse resurrected by mystical means, such as witchcraft.  The term is often figuratively applied to describe a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli.”

“In modern times (that’s now I presume) the term “zombie” has been applied to an undead being in horror fiction, often drawing from the depiction of zombies in George Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.” I’ve seen the movie.  If you have not, then I highly recommend a viewing just for the heck of it.

Hollywood of course has taught us much of what most of us think we know about zombies.  Newer television versions such as The Walking Dead have further portrayed them in a contemporary light.  Now we can all recognize a zombie when we see one.

Other Pandemic Options

However, of course, us preppers and wannabe survivalists don’t really anticipate deadhead flesh eaters to be banging on the frontZombie Apocalypse door.  I suppose though that some radical mad scientist at the CDC might conjure up a scenario where a dramatic new disease (or an existing one) could sweep the country creating zombie-like characters.  See the 1995 movie Outbreak starring Dustin Hoffman.

But what about potential epidemics based on such things as a widespread bird flu, brucellosis, bubonic plague, encephalitis, Legionnaire’s disease, COPD, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, Ebola, Hanta, mad-cow, rabies, leprosy, botulism, elephantiasis, lower respiratory infections, and naegleria.  Shall I go on?  Google some of those if you really want to break out in a cold sweat or not sleep tonight.  Would we be able to quarantine our own families and keep the sick wolves away from the doors?

Societal Inflictions

And just when you thought there was but a slight remote possibility of one of Doomsday Preppersthe disease threats above coming to a town near you, what happens in America when the entitlement payments stop?  When the “empowered” goes to the local convenience store for today’s lunch of fried chicken or pizza and the EBT card fails to register, what is their reaction going to be?  What if China calls in our loans?

What happens when “Check don’t come anymore?”  The public dole shows up at a hospital emergency room near you with a head cold, headache, or twisted ankle and they are turned away, because the “Care” program bankrupted the country?  Will these people simply turn into hungry SHTF opportunistic thugs and thieves?

When the 47% (more like 52+%) no longer has any government system of support where will they turn?  Perhaps these “disenfranchised” masses will turn on us.  They may gang up to rove through all our “affluent” middle-class neighborhoods to take whatever we have worked to secure, stocked up, and prepared for us to survive.

It’s something to think about and is a prime subject around our breakout hideout campfire.  It’s a whole lot more plausible than an invasion by Hollywood zombies.

Choosing a Zombie-Pandemic-Societal Crash Weapon

Though many preppers may elect to opt out of accepting the value of a defensive/offensive weapons strategy, a great number of Doomsday Preppersus fully recognize the importance of keeping ourselves and families safe from any threat.  This could be a gang of thugs from across the country, your county, hometown, or a next door neighbor bent on taking our food, stealing our gas, prep gear or endangering our lives in the process.

If you are inclined to have a firearm or more for protection, then this is not intended to be another reinvent of your wheel.  Others may be just getting into this and know very little to nothing about guns and shooting.  Selecting and building a SHTF-Zombie long gun may be as foreign to these folks as creating a survival prep food and gear supply was for me years ago.

Again, this is not new science but intended for new preppers or others creating a backup or veterans willing to consider other formats, configurations or features to stock on hand.  Further, please dismiss any arguments or critiques about the choice selected here for any different one that may be more suitable to others.  It is what it is and that debate will never end.

I fully recognize that there are multiple viable options for selecting a solid, reliable platform for a workable survival scenario Doomsday Preppersrifle.  Without details, discussions, or apologies my personal individual choice is the Stoner Armalite Rifle (AR) platform clone.  I accept the good, bad, and ugly of my choice.  So far, it works fine for me.

The Build

All that was just the marinade, now here’s the steak.  My own pick is the AR in 5.56/.223 for all the myriad of reasons and justifications for choosing this base rifle.  There are other good rifle choices and other good calibers to pick.  I chose the AR platform because of its flexibility to customize it to meet my personal needs and interests in a SHTF-Zombie rifle.

I elected to go with the 5.56/.223 because the ammo is very common (if we ever get over the ammunition drought we’re Mr Smashyexperiencing) and easy to find everywhere as a rule.  The magazines are also rather universal and easy to locate in supply.

Also there are virtually endless aftermarket accessories which make certain AR clone versions able to accept all kinds of add-on items to make the firearm more versatile.

These accessories have to be chosen carefully for quality and reliability.  Certainly there is a propensity to overdue it.  Users have to be mindful of all weight added to a firearm that needs to maintain maximum utility.

Here are the items that I recommended to consider adding to a base AR rifle.  Such a rifle version should be “optics ready” and come with a rail system installed.  That would allow for the attachment of numerous accessories on top, bottom and either side alongside the barrel:

Certainly there are many more accessory options out there and more coming all the time.  AR accessories are one of the hottest markets going so keep searching the web and supply catalogs.  Continue to read Survivalcache.com and other appropriate print media that reviews ARs.  Buy quality brands not fads.

Finally I recommend you obtain a good AR cleaning kit with ample supplies of consumables like patches, brushes, cleaners and Doomsday Preppers Survivallubricants.  A basic AR tool kit is smart.  ARs are relatively easy to work on, but don’t go over your head until you can.  Buy a good rifle case, too.  Stock up on extra magazines, and ammo.

Building a SHTF Zombie Rifle can be fun as well as purposeful.  Start with the basic rifle learning to shoot it well.  Once accustomed to the mechanism then consider adding components to make it your rifle.  A good zombie rifle should be a good start to protecting life, limb, family, and all else when the balloon goes up or the drones circle.

In this crazy world in which we live that could come crumbling down around our ears at any moment, if we have a little fun with zombies, I doubt it’s really going to hurt anything.  As a psychologist, I might submit that adding a little levity to all this prepping could help reduce some of the stresses of it all.  That would make us better prepared in the long run.

Photos by:
Dr. John J. Woods
Mr Smashy
The Walking Dead
People of Wal-Mart

John J. Woods

John J. Woods, PhD, has been outdoor writing for over 35 years with over 3000 articles, and columns published on firearms, gun history, collecting, appraising, product reviews and hunting. Dr. Woods is currently the Vice President of Economic Development at a College in the Southern United States. Read his full interview here.