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By Hugo Pecos

A rifle is designed to produce long, accurate shots, which makes it ideal for scenarios where you know the undead are coming and you have some time to prepare.

A long-barreled rifle offers better stopping power and accuracy than the handgun. However, its length makes it ill-suited for any combat situation that requires sudden, close-quarters deployment. The rifle is too bulky for maneuvering through doors and hallways and too easy for a vampire or zombie to snatch away if your attention is diverted. Additionally, a rifle may pose a threat to innocent people from over-penetration or excessive range.

There are three commonly-used rifle-action types: pump-action, autoloading and bolt-action. The pump-action rifles, in which cartridges are fed from the magazine into the chamber and then ejected by the back-and-forth pumping of the fore-end assembly, are very versatile and often preferred for their simple, reliable and compact design.

With autoloading rifles, an automatic mechanism ejects the fired cartridge and continues to feed successive cartridges into the chamber. Autoloaders are sometimes called "automatics," but the more appropriate term is "semi-automatics" due to the fact that the trigger must be released between shots.

In bolt-action rifles, cartridges are inserted by hand into the chamber or from a magazine and are extracted and ejected as the bolt opens the action. The mechanical simplicity of the bolt-action rifle provides durability, dependability and the strength to handle modern magnum calibers.

Generally speaking, the semi-automatic rifle is best if your target is further than 100 yards away. The .50 caliber rifle, which is banned in California, is a better choice as the required range increases beyond several hundred yards.

Hollow-point bullets are the best choice for rifles. Recoil is manageable with common rounds such as .223 Remington, .357 Magnum, or .44 Magnum. As always, practice with your weapon. Spend some time at the range with different types of loads to see which perform best in your rifle at the distances you expect to shoot.

Vampires: FVZA sharpshooters used rifles with night-vision scopes to pick off vampires as they emerged from their shelters for a night of hunting. But for home defense against bloodsuckers, the rifle is not very practical.

Zombies: When zombies are coming, a rifle from a fortified, elevated position is just about the best weapon there is. There's no danger of catching zombic fluids and viscera in the eyes, nose and mouth, and no danger of a zombie grabbing the barrel of the rifle. Picking off zombies from a safe spot can even be, dare I say, more than a little fun.

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