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By Hugo Pecos

While shotguns and rifles are the preferred firearms for defense against the undead, the handgun is not without its advantages. Shotguns can be difficult to maneuver in confined spaces and a zombie or vampire might be able to grab or push the muzzle away. The handgun is a better choice in situations where you are mobile and need to open doors, turn on lights, etc.

When battling the undead, you want a handgun and ammunition with stopping power. A bullet that whistles through a zombie won't do you nearly as much good as one that expands and stops in the zombie's body, transferring all its kinetic energy for maximum stopping power. That's why you should stay away from full metal jackets and stick with jacketed hollow-point bullets (JHPs), which have a hollow cavity in the nose. Hollow-points have received a lot of negative publicity in the media, but they are in many ways safer than full metal jackets and pose less risk to bystanders.

The .357 Magnum is a good choice for a defensive weapon. Smith & Wesson introduced the Magnum in 1935 as the world's most powerful handgun cartridge and it went on to attain iconic status. The Magnum produces almost three times as much energy as its shorter parent, the .38 Special. A .357 revolver with the Federal 125 grain jacketed hollow-point will give you plenty of stopping power.

Bear in mind, though, that full-power .357 Magnums have a strong recoil and are most effective in the hands of an experienced shooter. If you are less experienced, consider using a lower-recoil round. You'll be able to fire the gun more rapidly and accurately, without giving up too much stopping power.

Vampires: The sound and fury of a .357 Magnum will likely drive away all but the most desperate of vampires. If not, a round to the torso will do the trick.

Zombies: A zombie that takes a round in the chest will stop and may fall, but it will get back up and keep coming. You'd do well to take aim for the head. And don't miss.

Overall Effectiveness:



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