What is the best handgun to survive the Zombie Apocalypse?

Understanding what the best handgun to survive really doesn’t come down to the gun so much as the ammunition.

The critical factor when choosing the right weapon is to look at the ammunition available for it, and what the related Hatcher Value of those rounds are. Gen. Julian Hatcher developed the Hatcher Value scale in the 1930’s to rank handgun ammunition in terms of how well it will perform if the goal is a one shot kill shot.

Rounds I wouldn’t use unless it was all I had:

Round Hatcher Value
.25 Auto jacketed hollow point 50 grain 3.7
.22 Long Rifle jacketed hollow point 40 grain 4.2
.32 Auto jacketed hollow point 71 grain 11.1
.380 Auto jacketed hollow point 95 grain 18.3
.38 Special full metal jacket 158 grain 26.7

Moderate stopping power rounds – you better aim for the neck, mouth, or eye socket, or you might not take down your target:

Round Hatcher Value
9 millimeter full metal jacket 147 grain 32.3
.357 Magnum full metal jacket 158 grain 32.7
.357 SIG full metal jacket 147 grain 36.6

The following are the ideal rounds for one shot kills:

(Note that the 10millimeter and .40 S&W are both on this list – the police and military specifically requested these almost identical rounds to increase stopping power over the 9mm.)

Round Hatcher Value
.357 SIG jacketed hollow point 147 grain 45.2
.357 Magnum lead wad cutter 158 grain 48.5
.45 ACP full metal jacket 230 grain 49.1
10 millimeter full metal jacket 180 grain 50.3
.44 Special full metal jacket 240 grain 51.6
.40 S&W full metal jacket flat nose 180 grain 53.4
.41 Magnum full metal jacket 230 grain 54

General Hatcher’s magic number on the scale was 50.  With a rating of 50 the round will provide one shot stopping power 90% of the time.

So pick your ammunition, and then pick the firearm that best fits your shooting style to go with it.

5 thoughts on “What is the best handgun to survive the Zombie Apocalypse?”

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  2. I also stumbled across this post and realized it was two years old…But i am already here sooooo…. I really have to agree with the assesment on the glock pistols i have a g22 3rd gen and i would take it in a zombie apocalypse over any other available guns. But to clarify one thing it is two years later and there are a million different parts now days you can throw on a glock and “customize” (“bleck” that left a nasty taste in my mouth) it (just kidding) i have a scope mount, red dot, extended 22rd mags, laser sight, and a compensator on mine with a KPOS glock stock on order that will turn my .40s&W g22 into a subcompact rifle powerhouse so other than the assesment on customization a glock in 40 cal will be the best resolution for all of your head popping needs.

  3. Randomly found this old post, thought it worth commenting on.

    The important thing to realize about guns is that cartridge is only so much of how effective a gun is. Will .44 Magnum kill someone better than a 9mm? Generally, yes. Is it very difficult to manage? Very much so. Will a trio of 9mms dead on be more effective than an haphazard .44 Mag? Hell yes.

    All things being the same, bigger and faster bullets are generally better. But what’s important is that the gun fits you and that you can shoot it well. Nobody should feel underarmed with a 9mm or .38 Spl if they can fire them well.

    When someone asks me what handgun to buy, it’s always weapon before caliber. They have to try each caliber to see what they can handle and at what point it becomes overkill. But without a comfortable gun none of that matters.

    One thing these charts don’t consider is price and availability. Yes, .22 LR is crap ballistically. Does that mean it’s bad? NO! You can buy a 500 count box for the same price as fifty or less bullets of a larger caliber, and it’s found in literally every gunstore in the US.

    10mm is a mean round and even a minor bear killer, but few guns are made to fire it anymore and ammo is so expensive most people just reload old brass.

    TL;DR: Most pistols do the same thing. Pick the comfy one.

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