March 20, 2013
US DHS Prepares For Zombie Apocalypse?

A US Department of Homeland Security 1.6 billion round ammo purchase signals that DHS takes seriously the threat of a massive zombie outbreak? That was my first hope on reading about the big bullet buy. The 1.6 billion rounds to kill a few hundred million zombies sounds about right due to lots of likely misses when trying to do head shots. You've got to shoot the zombies in the brain or they'll just keep coming. Or at least that's what I've learned from a few zombie novels.

It was quite gratifying to think that the US government was at least preparing for one possible type of massive disaster. But my relief was short lived. A Military Times article points out DHS has a lot of law enforcement officers who go thru a lot of ammunition to stay proficient at shooting guns. So those bullet buys get used up pretty fast for target practice. Also, the purchases are over several years. DHS is probably not amassing the sort of stockpile needed to deal with a major zombie outbreak. Pity that.

What I'd like to know: with the practice bullets they go thru every year how efficient are federal law enforcement agents at making the head shots that are so necessary to stop a zombie outbreak? Will all their target practice result in much lower levels of missed head shots? Do you want to stay near your local DEA or Border Patrol agent neighbor come the Zombie Apocalypse? Maybe stock several hundred rounds for him to use?

Or do you want to hang out with hunters? Or will local cops have good aim? I'm thinking military sharp shooters will do best. But I don't know any of them and don't live near Marine or Army base.

My other practical thought along these lines: Put up really strong metal fence or concrete wall around your yard that can withstand large numbers of zombies leaning against it. Make the top of the fence about 5 feet high so that only heads will stick up. Then you can shoot them at close range and get really good kill ratios. Come the zombie outbreak get all your gunner friends with all their ammo over to your place and kill all the zombies in the neighborhood. You'd better have thousands or tens of thousands of rounds though.

One worry: as the inert zombie bodies pile up the undead will be able to stand on them. Then eventually they'll be able to climb over your wall and you'll be overrun unless you live somewhere rural with few people around who can become zombies. So the whole "killing fields for zombies" idea still needs improvement. But that's got to be the way we defeat them.

Another thought: domestic drones are going to be able to identify civilians packing heat. Well, if drones can detect guns on people they also ought to be able to detect the undead. Infrared signatures have gotta be way different. Plus, the gait of an undead is distinct as well. So can the drones be armed with high powered rifles that can kill large numbers of zombies? If so, they'd at least provide an upside to living in a society where the government is patrolling the nation with Skynet UAVs that all set to go Terminator when Skynet develops AI capabilities.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 March 20 11:33 PM 

Engineer-Poet said at March 21, 2013 4:43 AM:

The ammo is hollow point, which is expensive and somewhat of a waste against zombies.  It's designed for greater soft-tissue damage, but hardball will do a better job of punching through skulls and costs a lot less too.

Black Death said at March 21, 2013 6:12 AM:

This is important information. If I recall correctly from my Ultimate zombie source, the movie "Night of the Living Dead," it is possible to destroy the zombies by burning them as well as by shooting in the head. So we may wish to consider flamethrowers, which are not illegal under federal law but are banned in some states such as California (too bad, Randall). Here's how to make a homemade flamethrower. Be sure to stock plenty of extra gas canisters, and get ready to "set the night on fire" with flaming zombies!

Mark said at March 21, 2013 6:18 AM:

This is market manipulation, like the Hunts and the silver market in the 70s. There needs to be a congressional investigation as well as some FOIA requests for memos justifying the purchases.

David A. Young said at March 21, 2013 9:39 AM:

Ya gotta be careful with the "fire" option. According to the "Zombie Survival Guide" they'll often shamble around in flames for a long way before they go down, which could end up in you surrounding yourself in a fire storm of your own making. Not good!

Black Death said at March 21, 2013 10:33 AM:

@David -

Yeah, you gotta be careful - flamethrowers and guns are not for the timid. I wouldn't use the flamethrowers if the woods are dry and the DNR has issued a "no open burning" warning. We don't want to break the law here. Still, if you click on the link in my previous post, you'll see what one of these babies can do - imagine taking out a whole bunch of zombies with one blast of flame. Short of automatic weapons, pretty cool. And watching them stagger around as they are consumed in flames has got to be a blast. Still, we don't want a forest fire, so we'll have to reserve the flamethrower option for when the weather is rainy or snowy.

destructure said at March 21, 2013 5:40 PM:

DHS not only purchased a boatload of bullets but 7,000 M16 submachine guns and a couple hundred armored personal carriers. The machine guns make me nervous but the armored carriers are a good idea for riots and such. Though it makes me a little nervous that they expect riots. :/

The best firearm for zombies is a Ruger 10/22. They're cheap, accurate and reliable. The 22lr is a good caliber for head shots. 1000s of rounds only cost dozens of dollars. And they're small/light enough to carry 100s of rounds on your person.

My favorite zombie tactic would be the Zombie Motel. Dig pits and suspend caged animals over each just out of reach. Walking Dead does this to trap zombies. But I'm surprised they didn't do this to clear out the areas near their camps. If they put a few pits in the town or prison yard they wouldn't have the risk of killing(?) them manually in case of a breach.

destructure said at March 21, 2013 5:42 PM:

Zombie Motel: Zombies check in but they don't check out.

Randall Parker said at March 21, 2013 9:06 PM:


I didn't realize how cheap 22 ammo is. Even if you had to put 2 bullets into each Zombie brain it'd be incredibly cheap to do it. Plus, you could get drum magazines (at bottom of page). Though likely not in California.

Zombie motel pits: If enough fell in they'd start climbing back out on top of each other. You'd need to dig deep. A A wheeled loader shovel would make a zombie trap more practical.

destructure said at March 22, 2013 4:54 AM:

I'm not a fan of drums. The size and shape are awkward, they have a tendency to jam and then you lose a lot of ammo. That's a lot of disadvantages for not changing as often. Notice the military doesn't use them.

Matthew Hammer said at March 23, 2013 5:28 PM:

Clearly you need to build the walls a little bit higher, and then do some earth moving to make a steep slope leading up to them. That way the dead undead roll away from the wall, keeping your shooting gallery running.

Cluebat formerly from Exodar said at March 26, 2013 7:43 AM:

Since when do they need so much hollow-point ammunition for target practice?

And if this is routine then why is it such a drain on the market?

I am not one to often wear a tin foil hat, but this stinks.

Brett Bellmore said at March 29, 2013 12:39 AM:

"And if this is routine then why is it such a drain on the market?"

People are buying more ammo than they're shooting. This means that the ammo is a accumulating. This is being driven by a fear of future changes in the law which make obtaining ammo legally difficult. It has gone on for long enough that years worth of ammo consumption have been stockpiled privately.

Now, there are two possible future scenarios:

1. The political climate shifts, and those legal changes clearly aren't going to happen. People start using their stockpiled ammo for routine needs, and sales drop off a cliff face. Manufacturers who invested in increased productive capacity find it sitting idle, the money wasted.

2. The political climate shifts, and those legal changes arrive, and then some. People start using their stockpiled ammo for routine needs, because they can't buy it anymore. Sales drop off a cliff because it's not legal to sell. Manufacturers who invested in increased productive capacity find it sitting idle, the money wasted.

Essentially, what can't go on forever won't go on forever, and the only end to a buying frenzy is a sales slump, and the manufacturers don't want to invest in additional capacity when they know that at some unpredictable point their market for new ammo is going to collapse for years.

As for the DHS, I am not fond of our own homegrown Brownshirts, and am very disturbed by the militarization of every little agency, but the idea that they're buying billions of rounds of ammo is, apparently just one of those bogus internet rumors. And they do follow the principle that you practice with what you will use, a good one when somebody else is footing the bill, so of course they're using hollowpoints to practice with.

Sam said at May 4, 2013 11:20 PM:

People buying and hoarding ammo is a huge vote of no confidence in the US government. Whether for security against others or the government itself.

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