Rifles are long guns designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves ("rifling") cut into the barrel walls. The mainstays of armed combat and hunting, rifles are characterized by long-range accuracy and effectiveness, but other factors, such as rate of fire, vary widely depending on the type. Rifles are categorized by the type of loading mechanism (or action) they use. They are made to fill a variety of purposes and most are very modular. Most zombie experts agree that rifles are the best firearms in a zombie outbreak. A few things that any survivor must take into account, should they have a choice, are the ammunition type used by the rifle, it's make and manufacturer, and the skill required to operate it. Each caliber has pros and cons. A high powered round, such as a .50 caliber round, can easily rip through several human or zombie targets in one shot. Most guns of such a caliber are very heavy, difficult to maintain, and extremely rare. On the other hand, a round such as a 22. is incredibly easy to find, assuming guns aren't completely illegal where you live. At the same time, though, such a round could easily bounce off anything designed to protect. As such, such a gun would be best suited for a high population environment where one would wish to not draw attention to themself. Essentially, the strength of any gun depends on both the skill of a user, and his or her needs.

Rifle Types

Bolt-action Rifles

Bolt-action rifles are loaded by manual operation of the bolt

[1]Remington Model 700to eject a spent cartridge from the chamber and load a new one. Quality-made bolt-action rifles are often easy to maintain, and are very sturdy and reliable. Since their action requires the operator to manually cycle the bolt, the practical rate of fire for a bolt-action rifle, like any other manually-operated firearm, is much lower than a self-loading firearm's. According to the Zombie Survival Guide, ex-military bolt-action rifles like the Mauser Kar98k, the Lee-Enfield, and the M1903 Springfield are ideal anti-zombie firearms.

Bolt-action rifles were standard-issue infantry weapons with the armed forces of many countries up until the 1950s when they began to be usurped by semi-automatic battle rifles. Bolt-action rifles continue to be popular with civilian shooters to this day, and modern designs are favored by military and police snipers for their superior accuracy. Ex-military bolt-action rifles are also encountered in the hands of guerrilla forces in numerous conflicts around the world e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, eastern Ukraine, India (with the Naxalite Maoist rebels and the Indian police making extensive use of the Lee-Enfield series rifles alongside more modern rifles e.g. L1A1 Self Loading Rifle and the AKM). In an number of countries where the legal ownership of all semi-automatic centerfire rifles among licensed, law-abiding firearm owners is heavily restricted and/or banned e.g. Australia and Great Britain; bolt-action rifles (along with lever-action and pump-action rifles) are the only legal alternative.

Lever-action Rifles

Lever-action rifles are loaded by manual operation of a lever located around the trigger guard area (often including the trigger guard itself). While lever-action rifles have long been popular with hunters and sporting shooters, they were not widely accepted by the military. One significant reason for this was that it is harder to fire a lever-action from the prone position (compared to a bolt-action rifle). Another is that most lever-action rifles typically use a tubular magazine, which limits them from using stripper clips, the Winchester 1895 being the sole exception to this (as an aside, the Browning BLR, Savage 99,Henry long ranger and Sako Finnwolf use detachable magazines). Lever-action rifles generally have a significantly higher rate of fire than bolt-actions and a greater magazine capacity (the famous Winchester Model 1873, for example, has a magazine capacity of 15 rounds, and most modern lever-actions hold 6 or 7 rounds). In comparison to a bolt-action rifle, the disadvantages of a lever-action are a somewhat shorter effective range, slightly lower accuracy, and somewhat less stopping power due to most of them being chambered in a handgun caliber.

[2]Winchester 1873 ModelWith lever action rifles, there are 4 main sets of cartridge types. Rimfires, pistol caliber rifles, small bore rifle cartridges, and large bore rifle cartridges. The most common chamberings for rimfires the .22 Short, .22 Long, .22 LR, .22 Magnum; the most common pistol calibers being .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, .44-40 and .38-40; the most common small bores being .35 Remington, .38-55, and the ever popular .30-30; and the most common big bores being .444 Marlin, .450 Marlin, .405 Winchester, and .45-70. The rimfire rifles serve the same niche that any other rimfire rifle does. Pistol caliber rifles are the most offensive minded lever guns, lever guns having been chambered in pistol calibers since they're invention. Some cowboy action shooters can, and regularly do, reach rates of fire rivaling semi automatics and far exceeding bolt actions with pistol caliber lever guns. The small bores guns are most commonly seen with hunters, in fact the .30-30 cartridge is said to have taken more deer than any other hunting round, with the .44-40 being in second place. They were also commonly used by outlaws on lawmen, famed killer Tom Horn valuing it above all others. The big bores are also common among hunters, though usually for much larger and/or more dangerous game, such as boar, bear, and moose. Theodore Roosevelt preferences his Winchester 1895 in .405 Winchester for lions and one more recent hunter used a Marlin 1895 in .45-70 to take down all of the African Big 5, including an elephant . The lever action has also seen use in warfare. The 1860 Henry was known among some CSA soldiers during the US Civil War as "that damn Yankee rifle that loads on Sunday and shoots all week long." The Spencer was also a popular weapon during the Civil War, seeing use throughout the war as well as the Indian Wars. The 1866 Winchester saw much use amongst the various Native American tribes during the Indian Wars, along with the Spencer, Henry, and later Winchester models such as the legendary 1873. These weapons also saw use in the hands of frontier outlaws and lawmen. The 1866 also saw use in Turkish hands during their war with Russia in 1877, its service convincing all of Europe of the usefulness of a repeating rifle. The 1892 (pistol caliber) and 1894 (small bore, most famously the .30-30) were both popular with forces such as Pancho Villa's men during the Mexican Revolution. The 1895 Winchester saw use in .30-40 Krag during the Spanish American War and in 7.62x54R with the Russians during WW1, these rifles considered far superior to the crude Mosin Nagant and later seeing service among Soviet supported troops during the Spanish Civil War.

Pump-action Rifles

Pump-action rifles are a type of rifle that is manually operated by a pump handle at the fore end of the rifle. Pump-action rifles are a good "cross-over" firearm for people who are used to handling semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns in terms of operation and rate of fire. In some jurisdictions where the legal ownership of semi-auto rifles is heavily banned and restricted e.g. Australia, pump-action rifles are an ideal anti-zombie firearm alongside bolt-action and lever-action rifles. [3]Scoped Remington Model 7600[4]Remington Model 7600 SyntheticThe most common pump-action centrefire rifle on the firearms market today is the Remington Model 760, Model 7600 and Model 7615 series pump-action rifles and carbines. The Remington 760, 7600 and 7615 series rifles and carbines are popular with recreational hunters and target shooters in both North America (where the Remington 7600 is popular with deer hunters in both the USA and Canada e.g. Pennsylvania's gun laws prohibiting hunters from using semi-automatic rifles for deer hunting) and Australia (where the country's firearm laws prohibit the majority of licensed firearm owners from legally owning any semi-automatic long-arms and pump-action shotguns). In addition to the Remington 7600/7615 series, pump-action versions of the AR-15 and the AK series rifles have been produced so that the firearms can get around the "Assault Weapons" legislation in a number of American states. On example is the DPMS Panther pump-action AR-15 rifle. Another example are the Romanian-made Cugir PAR series rifles (which are basically a pump-action rifle version of the AK series rifles). Another series of centrefire pump-action rifles that are an ideal anti-zombie firearm are the Browning Pump Rifle (BPR)/Dualis pump-action rifle. Another series of pump-action rifle one can consider adding to their anti-zombie arsenal is the new Troy Defense Pump Action Rifle.

Semi-Automatic Rifles

Semi-automatic rifles are a type of rifle that fires a single bullet each time the trigger is pulled, automatically ejects the spent cartridge, chambers a fresh cartridge from its magazine, and is immediately ready to fire another shot. They may be operated by a number of mechanisms, all of which derive their power from the explosion of the powder in the cartridge that also fires the bullet. A semi-automatic rifle may be originally designed to be semi-automatic (such as the American M1 Garand or Russian SKS), or a civilian version of a military assault rifle design that lacks its fully-automatic fire mode. Semi-automatic rifles were first widely adopted by militaries during WW2, and briefly usurped bolt-action rifles before being replaced with select-fire automatic rifles such as the AK-47, M14, and M16.

Bullpup Rifles

Bullpup rifles are rifles that hold the magazine behind the trigger, in doing so they save room for the barrel. They are typically shorter than conventional configuration rifles with equivalent barrel lengths. Due to the positioning of the ejection port, most bullpup weapons have the problem of throwing empty casings into a left handed shooter's face, which can make it difficult and dangerous to engage targets from behind cover. A few models circumvent this issue by ejecting spent cartridges through the bottom of the weapon. Bullpup weapons, by their design, have significant slack in their triggers, due to the linkage mechanisms required to position the grip and trigger forward of the action. The design of bullpup weapons can also make it difficult to reload without shifting position while in the prone, or even in an offhand position while wearing heavy gear and clothing; the manual of arms for bullpup weapons can present significant issues to those familiar and practiced with rifles built in a conventional configuration. Examples of these weapons are the FN P90 and the FN F2000. One of the most recent bullpup rifles in development is the Barrett XM500, which was created to make a compact, more lighter version of the Barrett M82.

Bullpup rifles are by design slower to reload, charge, and manipulate due to the positioning of the magazine and operating controls.

Automatic Rifles

Automatic rifles, also known as "selective-fire rifles", or a variety of other terms, are a type of rifle that fire continuously for as long as the trigger is depressed. Automatic rifles were the logical next step from semi-automatic rifles, and automatic and semi-automatic rifle designs generally have a lot in common. Indeed, many semi-automatic rifles on the civilian market are simply semi-automatic-only versions of existing automatic rifle designs. Automatic rifles are divided into two sub-classes (depending mainly on their caliber): battle rifles and assault rifles.

Battle Rifles

Battle rifles utilize full-power rifle cartridges such as 7.62x51mm and can fire in either semi-automatic or fully automatic (the shooter can choose the firing mode with a selector switch), but use in automatic mode is generally discouraged because the recoil in most models is difficult to manage and wastes ammunition. Battle rifles are generally heavier and longer than assault rifles, have a somewhat smaller magazine capacity (Most battle rifles have a 20 round magazine, opposed to the assault rifle standard of 30) and another downside is the weight of the large 7.62x51mm ammunition (one can carry roughly twice as much 5.56x45mm ammunition for an equivalent weight of 7.62x51mm). On the upside, the larger caliber means battle rifles are effective at longer ranges than assault rifles, and have the potential to do more damage to a target. For these reasons, battle rifles are currently making something of a resurgence as 'designated marksman rifles' in hotspots such as Iraq and Afghanistan

[5]An FN FAL automatic battle rifle in 7.62x51mm.Well-known battle rifle designs include the M14, FN FAL, H&K 417, and H&K G3. Semi-automatic sniper rifles are often based on battle rifle designs (The Heckler & Koch PSG-1, for example, was developed from the G3).

Assault Rifles

Assault rifles are similar to battle rifles, but chambered in intermediate calibers such as 7.62x39mm and 5.56x45mm. The lighter ammunition allows assault rifle users to carry more ammunition, and results in somewhat increased magazine capacity (30 rounds is the norm), reduced recoil and reduced weight. The downside is sometimes decreased

[6]A Norinco Type 56 assault rifle (Chinese-built copy of the AK-47), 7.62x39mm.[7]An M16A1 assault rifle, 5.56x45mm.range; note, however, that some calibers (like the 5.56 NATO) can replicate the tissue damage of a larger full power round though tumbling and, more importantly, fragmentation. Well-known assault rifle designs include the AK series of rifles, the AR-15 family and its derivatives, the FN FNC, the H&K G36, SA80 series, H&K 416, and the Steyr AUG . Due to their combination of firepower, relatively high rate of fire, and good accuracy within the ranges infantry engagements are typically fought at (less than 300 meters), select-fire assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons of armies around the world.

List of common rifles

  • AR series - civilian and military variants of Eugene Stoner's rifle. Originally produced by Colt, hundreds of models based on Stoner's design now exist. Since the 5.56x45mm cartridge's propellant issue was worked out in the late 1960s, the AR-15/M16 series proved as reliable as any other (non-AK) assault rifle if properly maintained. In both Gulf War conflicts they have proven more reliable in sandy environments than the British Enfield bullpup assault rifle especially when a high grade lubricant (Teflon-based) is used. Chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO (.223 Remington).
  • M4 Carbine - Derived from the earlier CAR-15, a shortened M-16. Very user friendly, plethora of attachments/add-ons/interchangable parts, uncomplicated to field strip with experience. Can be prone to reliability issues. Chambered in 5.56 NATO.
  • AK family (AK-47, AK-74, AK-102, AK-108, among others) - Very durable, hardly jams (anything will jam if not taken care of) and has less parts than the M16. Also includes any semi-automatic variants produced for civilian and export markets.
  • Remington 700 - Highly popular bolt action rifle among military, law enforcement, and civilians for use as a sniper or hunting rifle.
  • Winchester Model 70 - Similar to Remington's rifle, in use with military, police, and citizens (USA)
  • Ruger 10/22 - Semi-automatic rifle known for its dedicated fanbase and plethora of aftermarket parts. Cheap, reliable, and highly available, it is popular as a plinking rifle and for taking small game. Chambered in .22 Long Rifle which still has enough power to destroy a zombies skull and brain. (USA)
  • SKS - Semi automatic rifle of Russian origin that is extremely popular through the world. Seen in hands of American sport shooters and many other countries. With aftermarket parts, it can be turned into a sporterized or "tacticool" rifle. Chambered in 7.62 x 39mm.
  • SA80 - The L85 is the standard issue service rifle of the British Armed Forces. It is a bullpup, selective-fire assault rifle firing 5.56x45mm rounds. Not cheap or widely available.
  • Mauser Karabiner 98k - WWII German bolt-action infantry rifle chambered in 7.92x57mm. Highly popular and accurate rifle among firearm owners.
  • Lee-Enfield series rifles - Classic British bolt-action infantry rifle chambered in .303 British. Highly reliable, accurate, and renowned for its smooth action.
  • Springfield M1903 - Famous American bolt-action infantry rifle chambered in .30-06 Springfield. Highly accurate but can prove unwieldy to the inexperienced shooter.
  • Mosin-Nagant - Famous Russian/Soviet series of bolt-action rifles and carbines chambered in 7.62x54R. Mosin-Nagants are a rugged and reliable bolt-action rifle.
  • M1 Garand - Classic US military rifle of the Second World War and the Korean War. Chambered in .30-06 Springfield.
  • M14/M1A - Updated version of the American M1 Garand with a 20-round detachable box magazine, chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester, and (with some rifles) capable of full automatic fire. The M1A is the semi-automatic, civilian version of the M14 rifle and is popular with civilian rifle shooters in the US, Canada, and other countries where semi-automatic rifles are legal.
  • Ruger Mini-14/Mini-30 - A civilian off-shoot of the popular M14/M1A Battle Rifle. Availible in .223/5.56 and 7.62x39 calibers.
  • Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle
  • Marlin Model 336/444/1895 series lever-action rifle
  • Remington Model 760/7600/7615 series pump-action rifle
  • H&K 416/ H&K 417 - Enhanced version of the M14. The 416 was developed by a joint German- American effort for special operation use. The rifle boasts many advantages over the M14 including ehanced ergonomics, enhanced accuracy, the abillity to fire over 10,000 rounds full auto continous without melting or jamming. Additionally, it takes the same magazines as the M14 and M16. It comes in a variety of lengths (millitary versions often come with telescopic stocks) allowing for use as both a close quarter weapon and a designated marksman rifle (DMR). It can handle all of the M14 accessories and even fit additional attatchments on due to additional picatinny rails. The 416 is the 5.56 x 45 mm NATO variant while the 417 is the 7.62 x 51 mm variant.

Sniper rifles

Sniper rifles are intended to engage targets at greater distances than a standard soldier's rifle and/or with greater accuracy. Sniper rifles are usually defined as rifles capable of sub-MOA (minute of arc) performance at 100yrds and/or the ability to accurately hit a point target (man sized target) at 600+ yards (those with range <600yrds are usually defined as designated marksman rifles).  Nevertheless, these are not hard and fast rules.  They are more difficult to use effectively than one might suppose, and using them at extreme distance requires much practice and training. Many factors such as wind, bullet drop, altitude, air temperature must be factored in when making shots at long distance.  Examples used by armies around the world are the AWM, M24, M40, PSG1, M21, and the M110. Features such as action, barrel style, magazine capacity, and stock style and material vary greatly among rifles.

[8]M24 sniper rifle [9]L96 sniper rifleWhile some might see the sniper rifle's accuracy as a great tool against zombies, that is not always the case. Even if someone is trained to properly use one, engaging a zombie is much more difficult than training targets. Military and police snipers are trained to hit an enemy's chest to either penetrate their heart or hit another vital organ to cause death or severely would them; they are purposely trained to avoid the temptation to try and make a headshot. If the sniper can aim several inches higher, they will find out why this lesson was taught - hitting an enemy's head at long ranges is difficult. Sniper rifles have effective and maximum ranges at which they can be expected to hit a point, or at least near it. When shooting a head, the couple of inches a bullet can miss means missing the target completely. Combine this with the movements it makes when lumbering towards something, and trying to shoot a zombie with a sniper rifle dramatically reduces its range. Suppressors can usually be attached to most sniper rifles that can make the shot silent at the range of the target. Even so, an impact into a zombie head and it falling to the ground will be heard by others if the area is quiet. This can be exploited to draw in and kill other zombies as they gather and slow down to inspect the area.

Anti Materiel rifles

Anti materiel rifles (AM rifles) are high powered rifles used against enemy objects (as opposed to personnel) that smaller caliber rifles can't penetrate. They are usually chambered in large calibers such as .50BMG.

Anti materiel rifles first saw combat in World War I. They were used against enemy vehicles, tanks. They were powerful, but other weapons such as bazookas were more effective. (bazookas weren't invented until WWII.) Modern anti material rifles are typically semi automatic. They have a low magazine capacity, typically 5 to 10 rounds, and are heavy and cumbersome. These drawbacks make them inpractical for use in a zombie apocalypse and can't be used indoors. The high power rounds also allow for over penetration. You may use it for taking down many zombies at once, but heights of zombies vary, so multiple headshots in one shot are difficult. At the long ranges they are capable of, the bullets usually drift enough to miss a man-sized target, let alone a head, where hitting a part of a vehicle would still have been acceptable. At shorter ranges the large bullets would seemingly cause a head to explode, but the same end result could be accomplished using a smaller and lighter scoped rifle with smaller and lighter rounds. However, extremely powerful bullets (such as the aforementioned .50 BMG) can quite literally rip off limbs and blow a body open with a single shot, easily disabling a zombie; the rounds also produce significant hydrostatic shock and have potential to cause remote brain damage.  These rifles can be used effectively against heavily armed bandits (ex. light-skinned trucks and helicopters.) Types of AM rifles are the American M82A1, the British AS50, and the old Russian PTRD. Another good one is the World War 2 Boys anti tank rifle chambered in the rare .55 Boys cartridge.

References and External Links

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