Oscar Mike – Chapter Three

STEN

“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

-Charles Darwin

The room was flush with the aroma of metal filings and machine grease. And the acrid smell of burnt metal was also there, the telltale signs of forgers at work. The few open windows in the factory shop had managed to keep the air quality bearable, but it did nothing to remedy the heat situation. Whether it was the result of an unseasonably hot summer, or of melting down steel and nickel to make castings, the entire floor was predestined to feel like the eight ring of hell.

Braun’s obsessive face wiping could attest to that. His wet, clingy shirt and the way his khakis were sticking to his legs were another indication. He couldn’t imagine how anyone on the floor could stand the aprons, gloves and protective goggles they were forced to wear. Were it not for the hot metal components they were required to handle, he was sure they would all have stripped down to their skivvies a long time ago.

As they walked between stations on the assembly line, the foreman – the venerable Art Mitchell – showed him the fruits of their operation. Between wiping his face, Braun made entries in his notebook, noting the numbers and models produced.

“Our total haul for this past week was one-hundred and eighteen SMGs, eighty-nine service pistols, and two-hundred bayonets. Our intakes accounted for roughly two tons of recycled slag, a mix of steel, iron, nickel, tin and copper. And we managed to get just enough zinc from you people to fashion the firing pins.”

Braun nodded, making a note of it. He knew an appeal when he heard one, and would have to run that by the higher ups. Ever since they had set up shop, Mitchell and his workers had become the sole source of weapons and munitions for the town militias. His designs were seen on just about every city block now, the proliferation of weapons models that were well-dated, but ideally suited to modern needs.

But as always, expanded production meant that more resources would need to be obtained. The slag heaps and waste materials generated by the war could expect to keep producing plenty of iron and steel for the time being, but rare minerals and chemicals like zinc and chromium were quickly running out. Which meant resource extraction, in the old fashioned sense, would once again need to resume.

There were departmental rumors that some Smithsonite mines was being contemplated south of the capitol. Apparently, it was part a larger scheme to rebuild Socorro now that it too had been repopulated. But he could not say with any confidence that it was true, or assure Mitchell and his people that these proposed mines would become a ready source of zinc compounds, or even that they had a group of chemical engineers on hand that could extract it for him.

Such was the nature of things in his new role. He had learned to become a cog in an apparatus that was simply trying to get things done and see to a rising tide of production and manufacturing needs. At the center of it all was the rapidly expanding population of the region, people who had been fleeing the undead hordes and looking for a safe place to set down. Beyond simple shelter, food and water, all anyone had wanted back then was to know they could go to sleep at night and not spend their days in constant fear.

But now, with the cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque resettled and rezoned, and dozens of townships besides, the more intricate matter of how to meet the less basic needs of their inhabitants was always on everyone’s mind. Beyond food, shelter and water, people were once again in need of basic comforts, and had to be organized to produce and distribute them. Braun heard much from each and every group he was tasked with listening to – the Agro Co-Op, Utilities, Weapons, and Materials – and knew much about their problems. But proposing solutions was beyond his pay grade. Gathering relevant information and making recommendations to those who actually had the power to do things, that was what he was he was tasked with. And according to those he reported to, it was a very important task.

Which reminded him – another thing in his job description was to investigate complaints made by other groups and see if he couldn’t find out what the source of the problem was. In this case, it was the people who kept track of weapons distribution that had asked him to inquire.

“I understand you experienced a drop in production back in early April.”

“Ah, yes,” said Mitchell, suddenly sounding grave.

“Okay. Any reason why that would be?”

“It’s simple, really. Our smelters and production lines run on electricity. And when the electrical grid is intermittent, our equipment stops working.”

“Right…”

Mitchell continued, still sounding and looking very much irate. “You may have heard about the brownouts we periodically deal with in town here? I know it’s not as common up north where you were from, but down here, it’s a way of life.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll make a note of – ” he stopped short as his mind backtracked to the one nugget that stuck out in that last complaint. “How’d you know I was from up north?”

“Are you kidding?” Mitchell ran his hand up and down the length of Braun’s profile. “The buzz cut hair, the khaki pants, the way you walk… everything about you screams infantry, son. And people do talk.”

Braun frowned. “People have been talking about me?”

“Yeah. A lot of my workers were happy as hell to know that they were reporting to a former grunt now. They figured having someone who actually understood the nature their work, instead of some pencil-pushing bureaucrat, would make life easier.” The way Mitchell punctuated this with a grunt told him exactly what he thought of the end result.

“Well, as I said, I am new to this.”

“We all are, son. I guess we just do the best we can.”

Braun didn’t reply. Putting his pen to the pad again, he made the note, as promised. If he was going to avoid any such mistakes in the future, he needed to let his superiors know that they needed to do a better job of communicating with other departmental superiors. Otherwise, guys like him were going to wind up looking stupid in front of guys like Mitchell. He was sure to spell it in all uppercase letters and underline it twice.

BETTER INTERDEPARTMENTAL COMMUNICATION.

“Anyway,” Mitchell said, sounding suddenly uncertain. “What happened to get you stuck with us down here?”

“Long story,” Braun said hesitantly.

Mitchell chuckled. “Piss off the wrong person, huh?”

Again, Braun didn’t reply. Eventually, Mitchell nodded and let it drop.

“Shall I show you some of the fruits of our labor?”

Braun shook his head and tapped his pen against the notebook. “No, I think I got all the information I need right here.”

“I meant, would you like to see the firing range. We set one up so we could test fire every weapon that rolled off the line.”
Braun felt suddenly piqued. He hadn’t been expecting a hands-on demonstration. “That would be… lovely.”

A few minutes later, and Braun found himself in a large storage room on the buildings ground floor. The air was much cooler, and the smell immensely improved. Instead of the tangy odor of grease, filings and molten metal, there was the familiar smell of cordite.

They stood together, Mitchell and he, looking down range from a series targets – which in this case consisted of standing two by fours that held up sheets of foam insulation cut into the profile of men. Directly in front of them was a long counter covered with guns and open cases of ammunition. Braun recognized the three models: a short stock semi-auto rifle, a submachine gun that resembled an old STEN, and a Colt automatic.

The sum total of everything Mitchell and his crew had been working on since they first set up shop. Mitchell motioned to the nearest weapon, which happened to be a copy of their standard submachine gun. Braun stepped forward and took hold of the weapon. He noticed an inscription carved on the side.

Freak Killer 2.0

He raised the weapon to his shoulder, tested the sights and the weight.

“You recognize what that is, don’t you?” said Mitchell.

Braun nodded, lowered the weapon to get a better look at the assembly. In essence, the weapon was just a single, long tube of metal, a wiry metal stock, and a magazine sticking at right angles to it. The front end was especially long, thanks to the addition of the built-in suppressor.

“A venerable old design. How did you know how to recreate it so exactly?”

Mitchell crossed his arms. His tone became that of a proud father. “I had a set of the old blueprints at home. Metal working has always been my vocation, and old firearms my passion.”

“No wonder the Council saw fit to put you to work here.”

Mitchell laughed. “Well, the way they saw it, someone needed to be making sure we had a supply or replacement bullets. And no offense to your friends there, but most of our guns didn’t take five-five-six or nine millimeter ammo. Once they formed a militia, it just made more sense to create a standardized set of weapons and ammunition.”

“Hence the Freak Killer?”

Mitchell began speaking in proud tones again. “I was hard-pressed to come up with a model that was both easy enough to produce but reliable in the field, and simple enough to strip down and reassemble that someone could do it with a bare minimum of training. STENs were the perfect concept – designed with simplicity and a minimal number of components in mind.”

“Not to mention minimal expenditure of materials,” said Braun.

“Well observed. Perfectly suited to our purposes, wouldn’t you say?”

Braun raised the weapon again and chambered a round. He aimed at the nearest target, and squeezed. The weapon let off a metallic clack, and a small thunk sounded in the target down range. He took in, and let out, a small breath as he lowered the weapon, an old habit.

“Not bad,” he said. “And quiet too.”

“Stealth is another thing we non-military types take seriously. Loud gunshots have a way of drawing the infected to towards you. Don’t imagine you grunts ever worried about that, huh?”

Braun shrugged. “No. Drawing them in was kind of what we wanted to do. Easier to kill that way.”

Mitchell shook his head. “Well… you’re in our world now. Try to adapt.”

Zombie Guns, or How To Prepare for World War Z!

I blame myself in part, but what with all the talk of face-eating and Bath Salts in the news, there’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not there’s a Zombie Apocalypse on the way. Personally, I’m not one to go in for rumors and speculation, but I figure it’s better to be prepared! Hence why I’ve decided to do a post dedicated to Zombie Guns, or more specifically, firearms that will come in handy when the flesh-eating zombies start roaming your neighbourhoods!

Having done some posts of late involving futuristic guns, I’m already pretty well versed when it comes to recent developments in the firearms industry. However, I wanted to be thorough, so I also did a looking around and included some ideas from people who’ve already put some work in on the subject. And of course, I would be lost were it not for the common sense rules that come to us from all of movie, television and even literacy sources on the subject.

Whether it’s tv’s The Walking Dead, movies like Zombieland or 28 Days Later, or Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide, the basic rules for surviving zombies are the same. Go for the head, don’t be stingy with ammo, and sever all emotional attachments! And when it comes to weaponry that will be most effective in this regard, portability, capacitiy, firepower and versatility are all important.

Relying on all these basic criteria and what I know about modern weaponry, I now present a list of the top handguns, SMG’s, shotguns, and rifles, each entry with its own selling points and drawbacks. Have a look through them and see if any of them tickles your fancy! In the end, I figure we all get one from each category. Have fun picking your arsenal!

Small Arms:
The weapon of last resort. When you’re cornered and all other weapons have failed or run dry, your last option is to draw your sidearm and knock as many heads off as possible, preferably while falling back. And when this happens, you need a steady firearm that won’t run out of bullets fast. And when it does, it needs to be quick to reload. That way you can keep on knocking heads off without worrying about being bitten!

Beretta 92:
Here’s one everyone should recognize. Also known as the M9 or Beretta 9mm, this gun is a favorite amongst police forces and militaries in many countries, especially the US. Combining a 9mm round, dual action and a 15 round magazine, it is one of the best all around sidearms in existence. In a firefight against zombies, its also a good last resort. The rounds are large enough to take out zombie brains, the pistol is accurate and doesn’t have significant recoil, and the shooter can go awhile without reloading.

The only real downside is the fact that this 9mm round doesn’t the same power as some its larger-caliber kin. If rounds are misplaced, like in zombie’s body, they won’t do much to slow it down. Basically, anyone using this will have to make their shots count by getting them right in the brain pan. But with 15 rounds (16 if they load the chamber), they will have plenty of opportunity.

Colt 45:
Don’t ask me why, but when it comes to old school designs, big bullets seemed to be the norm. That is certainly true of the Colt M1911, aka. the Colt 45. Originally designed for shooting gangsters and trench warfare, this weapon is more than capable of splattering zombie brains all over the sidewalk.

An immediate downside of this weapon is its ammo capacity, a mere seven rounds. In addition, as a single action pistol, it can be less accurate than its peers. However, it can overcome the former with an extended (12 round) mag, and its simplicity and old-world durability can make up for any inaccuracy. Unlike other models, this sidearm can up to 6000 rounds without a single misfire or jam up.

Desert Eagle:
What do you get when you cross a magnum with a semi-automatic pistol? The Desert Eagle, available in both the .357, .44 and .50 calibers. Each of these are capable of decorating a wall with zombie brains, but the bigger the bullet, the bigger the mess! As a hand gun, it packs a hell of a lot of firepower into a relatively small package. And at close range, nothing short of shot gun or an assault rifle can match its power.

However, its greatest strengths also prove to be its greatest weaknesses. Its powerful punch means powerful kickback, which can make accuracy a bit of a problem. What’s more, the large caliber make capacity problematic, even at the smallest caliber (9 bullets for .357, 8 for .44, 7 for .50). An extended 14 round clip helps this, but not the central problem of accuracy.

Glock 17:

This brand of handgun has been made famous by countless TV shows and movies, mainly because it sees so much use by police and military forces around the world. A variation on the Glock 9, the Glock 17 is also a compact 9mm pistol, but boasts a 17 round magazine. That kind of capacity is useful when facing off against a Zombie hoard!

In terms of drawbacks, the Glock has few. Much like the 9mm, its power is somewhat limited when used against zombie torsos. In the hands of an accurate shooter, this isn’t a problem. But for anyone else, that 17 mag will come in handy!

Submachineguns:
When zombies get close, its good to have something quick and small at the ready to take them down. Submachineguns, PDW’s and compact full-autos all fall into this category. In this case, rate of fire and ammo capacity count for something, but in the end, accuracy is important too, since head shots are the most effective.

Calico M960:
Because of its unique, sleek design, the Calico is a mysterious gun that’s made many cinematic appearances, usually in connection to sci-fi franchises. However, when it comes to combating zombies, its chief benefits are firepower and ammo capacity. A 9mm weapon with a top-mounted, helical magazine, the Calico can hold up to 100 rounds. And because of the compact shape of the magazine, many can be kept on the gunner’s person without fear of being overlaiden.

Drawbacks? Can’t think of many. Given its two handles, 9mm caliber, ambidextrous option and the choice between semi-auto and full-auto firing modes, the Calico is well suited to taking down individual and crowds of zombies. One possible flaw is that the range is slightly limited, compared to that of an assault rifle.

Chang Feng SMG:
Here we have another submachinegun that features a top-mounted helical magazine, a compact design and a relatively high ammo capacity. And like many other guns on this list, it is a 9mm design which makes it just right for splattering zombie brains! It’s ability to switch between semi-auto and full auto can also be useful when one needs to switch from accuracy to “kill em all” mode.

The drawbacks of this compact design are simple. Being so compact, it can be a bit unruly when fired in full auto mode. Though it has a forward handle as well as the trigger grip, the spacing makes recoil a bit of a problem.

MP5:
A favorite amongst law enforcement and military personnel everywhere, and for good reason. It’s compact size, firepower, weight and range are all very well suited to close combat firefights, which are common in urban environments. This makes it well suited to zombie killing as well. As usual, the 9mm round is prime brain-bashing ammo, and the third round clip ensures plenty of ammo.

At full auto, the gun fires 800 rounds a minute, but given its stability and accuracy, those rounds will be well placed. Compared to all that, its only real downside is its size. Compared to other SMG’s, this gun is more akin to an assault rifle than a compact machine pistol. Combined with other large weapons, this can create a problem.

P90:
Known as PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) this weapon is the living embodiment of compactness and automatic fire. Combining a 5.7mm round (the equivalent of .22 caliber) with a 50 bullet magazine, top-mounted, this weapon has enough punch to pulp zombie brains and can keep firing for some time. Its size and compact shape make it very portable as well.

However, there are some notable drawbacks. For starters, at full auto, its high rate of fire (900 rounds a minute) combined with its small size can produce some troublesome recoil. In addition, I hear tell that it has been known to jam up from time to time, which in a zombie fight can be truly fatal!

PP-2000:
Built in Russia and a popular item amongst its armed forces, this 9mm machine pistol has a number of useful features when facing zombies. For starters, it combines an assault rifles rate of fire with the size and caliber of a pistol. This makes it highly compact and portable and a good weapon to have when in close quarters with a small group of zombies.

Alas, its magazine capacity is only 20-30 rounds, which at a 600 rpm rate of fire can go very fast! Its retractable stock can combat recoil, but also adds volume which reduces compactness. As a result, it is best when used in single fire mode like a mega-pistol.

TDI Kriss:
Yet another example of portability meeting firepower, and then producing some weird looking offspring. Basically, a Kriss is an SMG that combines .45 caliber rounds with a rate of fire that lies between 800-1100 rounds per minute. Its handled design also makes it a steady shooter, which combined with its firepower, makes it good at chopping off zombie heads.

The downside you say? Well, its magazine is terrible small for a weapon that fires so quickly. As it stands, the weapon comes standard with a 13 round mag, which at 800 rounds per minute would go within a 1.33 seconds! Apparently, a 28 round mag is being developed, but that too would be gone in 2.1 seconds. This is fine if you’re happy shooting at semi-auto, but until they come up with a 50 round mag, this weapon is too quick for zombie fights.

“Close Encounters” – aka. Shotguns:
When it comes to zombie hunting, shotguns are mighty handy. Not only do they pack a lot of punch, a single shot can take a zombie’s head clean off. And even if you miss the head, a hewed arm or leg can also slow a zombie down considerably. Here, accuracy doesn’t count for a lot, but ammo capacity certainly does. When you’re blasting zombies, the last thing you want to hear is an empty click.

Franchi SPAS-12:
Originally designed for sport shooting, this automatic shotgun has become a mainstay amongst police and military forces everywhere. Able to shoot in either the pump action or semi-automatic firing modes, it is renowned for versatility, reliability, and firepower. It’s eight round capacity is also highly respectable as ammo capacities go.

The only drawbacks, compared to other weapons in this category, is its limited ammo supply. Though accurate and not prone to mechanical problems, which can happen in automatic designs, the SPAS 12 can deplete its ammo quicker and then takes time to reload.

Kel Tec KSG:
A cutting-edge design, boasting duel feed magazines and compact dimensions, this weapon is well suited for anti-zombie defense! In total, it holds 14 rounds, as is operated by pump action. It’s two handles also ensure a relative degree of accuracy, making head shots a real possibility.

Unfortunately, the weapon has two distinct drawbacks. Though it holds a highly respectable 14 shots between its two magazines, the pump action slows it down somewhat. In addition, it must be reloaded manually, and between its two tubes, that can take some time. This demands that the user find cover after exhausting their supply of ammo, or spend only part of it before taking time to reload.

Striker:
Manufactured in South Africa, the Striker Protecta was specifically designed to be a counter-insurgency, high capacity weapon with a hell of a lot of punch. It’s size and shape make it compact and portable, and its 12 round magazine give it enough capacity for a prolonged firefight.

In terms of drawbacks, the Strikers has a few. Though it has a good capacity, it has to be reloaded manually, which can take some time. In addition, even though its compact, the drum magazine can make it bulky and awkward to carry. However, it can make up for this since it doesn’t require additional magazines, just a simple ammo belt, in order to be reloaded.

USAS-12:
Here is a somewhat interesting design. Combining the familiar profile of an assault rifle with the concept of a shotgun, the USAS-12 also manages to combine a high capacity with a lot of firepower! The standard box magazine can hold 10 shots, but the drum magazine gives it a robust twenty. However, this is balanced by the fact that the ten can be reloaded by simply slamming a new box into place, whereas the twenty must be reloaded manually.

The only potential drawback of this weapon is its rate of fire. In addition to being semi-automatic, the gunner does not need to pull the trigger multiple times to get multiple shots off. This can cause have a saturation effect, but can also waist ammo. Remember, zombies hunt in packs, so saturation is only useful in real close quarters.

Rifles:
Last, but not least, is the category of rifles. Basically, these are the weapons that you want for long range encounters and sniping. In this case, what matters most are accuracy and ammo capacity. Even small caliber rifles have enough muzzle velocity to kill with a head shot, so in the end what matters is the ability to place that shot on target. Once you got that down, you want to make sure you can do it again, and again, and then again some more…

Barrett XM500:
This .50 cal sniper rifle design, which is the most recent to come out of the US, is lighter and more compact that its peers. And its sheer firepower and range would make it a real Zombie killer. Just imagine, .50 cal slugs that are capable of taking a zombie’s head off, literally! A hit to the torso will limb will all dismember and tear them apart too. Even if that’s not fatal, its sure to slow them down a ton!

However, the weapon does come with its share of drawbacks. Though good for long-range encounters, it would be of little use up close since it can only be fired while in a prone position. It’s ammo capacity is also lacking, at ten rounds a magazine, and despite its more compact and light design, she’s still tough to get around in a hurry.In short, good for support fire, not the best to have on its own.

Daewoo K11:
Here we have the Korean made dual caliber rifle that is part of the larger OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon) program. Combining a standard 5.56mm assault rifle with a built-in grenade launcher, this weapon is highly versatile, has good range and is very powerful. It’s regular ammo are more than capable of smashing zombie heads, and the grenades are good to disperse zombie crowds.

The drawbacks are clear. The K11 comes with a high-tech scope, but this is of little use when it comes to zombies. The added weight and bulkiness of it can also be a problem. In short, its delivers in all areas except portability, which in the end can mean the difference between life and death.

M16A2 Assault Rifle:
This version of the M16 rifle is an upgraded model of the weapon that seen service with US armed forces since Vietnam. In addition to better ammo and less blowback, the A2 has the ability to carry the M203 40mm grenade launcher, which is a fine addition for zombie killing. Combined with the standard 5.56mm round, a good muzzle velocity and a 30 round magazine, the M16 is accurate, has good range, and a respectable capacity.

Compared to bullpup rifles, its not very compact, but this problem is pretty minor since it can be carried for its stock or slung without difficulty. The only other thing is the grenade launcher, which while powerful addition can take some time to reload. As a single shot, slide-loader, the gunner is going to be up against it to get ammo in between shots. Best when used sparingly and at long range between shots from the rifle.

FN SCAR:
The name stands for Special Forces Combat Assault Rifle, which is precisely who this weapon was designed for. As a result, its accurate, powerful, compact, and very versatile. In addition to its 30 round 5.56mm rifle, it can be upgraded to carry a 40mm grenade launcher, red dot or holographic sites, tactical grips near the front, and probably some other things! All of this adds up to a very functional and versatile weapon.

Of course, all these modifications can be counterproductive. For instance, some modifications rules out others, such as tactical grips making a grenade launcher impossible. At the same time, too many attachments can make the gun bulky and cumbersome. The best configuration for fighting zombies would likely be a tactical grip for stability (ensuring better accuracy) or a 40mm grenade launcher for added punch. But as usual, that grenade launcher is a single shot weapon which takes time to load.

Steyr AUG:
I knew I couldn’t complete this list without including at least one bullpup assault rifle. And when it comes to bullpups, the AUG is arguably the best. Light-weight, compact, accurate and powerful, the Steyr AUG is ideal for zombie hunting. With its magazine loaded at the rear, this gun cuts down on bulk while at the same time adding muzzle velocity. Combined with a 42 round magazine, the AUG can kill zombies longer than most.

One downside is a potential lack of versatility. The standard AUG comes with a tactical grip that ensures more stability and accuracy while firing. This can be taken out to enable a grenade launcher, but only at the cost of accuracy. The scope can also be upgraded, but red sights and holographics are no more effective than its standard 1.5x scope. In the end, this gun is best as it is.

Suit Up!:
Well, that about does it, doesn’t it? Now it comes time to pick which weapons we want on our persons when the zombies come knocking. God, I feel like I’m making a role playing game, but if that were true, I’d have to give every player an upper weight limit or capacity based on their size. That’d really make things interesting! Alas, I can only do a four category thing right now with the available choices. So.. here’s what I’m taking

Sidearm: Beretta 92 (I love the way it looks)
SMG: Calico (it had me at 100 rounds!)
Shotgun: USAS-12, 10 round box magazine (I figure these will be easier to carry and quicker to change. I shall try to be sparing with my shots)
Rifle: Steyr AUG (its accuracy and 42 round clip ought to be ideal for zombie hunting. I was thinking the K11 because of its grenade launcher, but its size and clumsiness would get in my way)

Well, that’s me done. Anyone else want to take a run?