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Bolt-Action Rifles for Zombie Apocalypse Survival

Bolt Action Rifles in the Zombie Apocalypse


Bolt-Action Rifles Against Zombies


Bolt-action rifles are an extremely common type of firearm. These rifles have a very low rate of fire and limited magazine capacity, but is balanced with it’s accuracy and power. These make bolt-actions excellent hunting and enthusiast weapons for civilians. There is also a stock of surplus weapons that are in the civilian market for weapons enthusiasts. However, modern bolt-action rifles are still used in law enforcement and military units for situations that require these attributes.


Bolt Action Rifle Against Zombies


I know that everyone wants some kind of sexy, big, black assault rifle that can shoot hundreds of rounds per minute…The truth is, not everyone has access to these for a multitude of reasons. We must be able to make do with what we can reasonably purchase or commonly find. In fact, by not purchasing the Ferrari of rifles, you may be able to afford other much needed supplies, food and implements that will aide in your survival. Remember, bullets won’t keep you fed or hydrated.


Open for a larger view! Image credit goes to: http://www.everydaynodaysoff.com/


So, let’s take a look at the positive features of using a bolt-action rifle in the zombie apocalypse.


    • Accuracy: This is very important when fighting zombies. You must be able to achieve a head shot in order to kill the zombie. Bolt-action rifles, especially when paired with optics, can hit small targets at a much greater distance than the average rifle / carbine.


  • Power: Power not only gives the weapon range, but it helps punch larger holes in your enemy. Larger holes don’t completely mean an advantage against zombies, but they can help against other threats or prey. However, you can also get bolt-action rifles in smaller calibers.



  • Ammo Conservation: Because you must manually chamber each round, it will aide in your fire discipline. Not everyone needs this, but in a stressful situation it is common for rates of fire to unnecessarily increase. This gives a false sense of security. You must ignore this urge and take well aimed shots.



  • Durability (Cleanliness): Bolt-action weapons generally stay a lot more clean than a semi-automatic. This is because most semi-automatic weapons are gas operated; meaning that gasses enter the chamber to force the bolt to the rear and chamber another round. After a while of shooting, this builds up carbon in the chamber and can lead to failures to feed / failure to fire. With a bolt-action, the gasses exit the barrel and therefor don’t introduce as much carbon back into the rifle.



  • Durability (Construction): These rifles also have a lot less moving parts, meaning there is less that can go wrong on them. For surplus weapons, they are usually built with strong metals and hard wood.



  • Melee: You can also use these weapons for melee purposes when needed to. Most surplus bolt-action rifles have attachments for bayonets. They also have (as mentioned before) hard wood stocks that are designed to be able to strike your enemy with them. This is extremely important during the zombie apocalypse.



Now, for the negetives:


    • Reload Times: The time it takes to reload a bolt-action rifle can mean the difference between life and death. This is especially true since the ammo capacity is usually under 6 rounds. Military surplus rifles generally make use of ‘stripper clips’ that have the rounds attached to them. They are much easier to reload a bolt-action rifle with one of these. However, this is relatively a slow process compared to doing a speed reload with an assault rifle. There are kits to make some military bolt-action rifles accept magazines. Also, a more hunting and tactical rifles are now fed through magazines.


  • Larger Rounds: The most common bolt-action rifles are large caliber. This is not to say that you can’t easily purchase one that uses a smaller caliber, but most surplus rifles are 7.62 and up. The drawback to this, is that you cannot carry as much ammunition. The extra weight and space they take up will decrease your ability to carry necessary supplies. Remember, it’s zombie survival not zombie warfare.



  • Weapon Length: Bolt-action rifles generally have a barrel length of over 24″ and the total length is much longer than the average tactical weapon. This makes fighting indoors much more difficult when clearing rooms is necessary. Having to put your weapon that far in front of you, gives your enemy or zombies a heads up you are coming, a chance to get in close and reduces your maneuverability.


There are other advantages and disadvantages to bolt-action rifles against zombies. These are just the more prominent ones. What it comes down to, is the fact that these are not the most suited weapon for zombie survival. However, they may be the most suitable weapon that is in your house or in your budget. I personally own an 8mm Mauser that I purchased for $80. It’s a great knock around gun and has some take down power. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it beats a frying pan.


A good surplus bolt-action rifle on a budget is a Mosin-Nagant 91/30, chambered in 7.62x54r. The prices are always fluctuating, but you can pick up a good one for $150. The ammo is also relatively plentiful and cheap to buy bulk packs. A lot of these packs come in sealed containers, perfect for storage… hell, they’ve probably been stored already for 30+ years. The downside of these bolt-action rifles is that they would need more money put into them to accept optics.



Leave A Reply
  1. Zero Hour Zed says
    June 22, 2012, 1:07 pm

    Are there any decent and affordable bullpup style bolt action rifles? I’m thinking that might help with gun length and mobility.

    • admin says
      June 23, 2012, 7:41 pm

      Zero Hour Zed,

      I did some looking around for you. Didn’t find anything I’d consider cheap for a bullpup bolt-action rifle. Most of them were large caliber rifles too (.338 and up). I wouldn’t recommend clearing the interior of a building, even if you did have one that was more maneuverable. It’s still close range, would need to be able to do followup shots quickly before zombies close the gap between you and them.

      Do you have any bolt-action rifles, right now? I’m curious to see how many of our visitors do.

      • mack10 says
        October 27, 2012, 2:05 am

        i have 4 bolt action rifles of various calibers, an ar-15, a 12ga shotgun, and pistols of various calibers and at least 100 rnds+ of each. 2 of the rifles are mosin nagants.

    • Drop Bear 47 says
      January 11, 2014, 7:29 am

      to those looking for bolt action weapons due to gun laws of your state or county in my case Australia your best bet is WW1 and WW2 rifles as they wear made for war and combat. The German Mauser has the smoothest reload useing charger of striper clips. The American Springfilield is good to But the best bolt action battle rifle is The British Lee-Endfield SMLE having double the magazine being accurate , having the best rate of fire and being the most durable and reliable.

  2. Will says
    October 7, 2012, 3:20 am

    I have done some looking around believers of the zombie attack and they all say guns are a good idea but i say since no one is making the ammo then we should not us them very often only for emergence for me armory I’m going to have a bow and arrows for range attacks a sword, machete, and two daggers. For my gear i have change some since reading this website but it is almost the same. I will have a backpack full of food ( for if i could not get back to my safe house that night ) wire, rotten meat, and poison ( to but in the rotten meat and kill the zombies ) and a wallky talky to talk to the people in my safe house and of course the eye protector, the surgical mask and the boots for snakes and the riot gear stuff.

    • PeacefulViolence says
      November 1, 2013, 9:12 am

      I make my own ammo… so do many many others

  3. cory says
    November 12, 2012, 12:49 pm

    i own a .270 bolt action, which i believe to be the best in zombie bolt action rifles, i say this because:

    *the ammo is relatively cheap (the average i pay is about $24.00 per 20 round box for match grade ammo),

    * recoil is mild to moderate (way less than a .30-06, but unfortunately also way more than a .22 LR)

    *the weapon and the ammo are both relatively lightweight (my rifle, after adding optics, bi-pod, butt-stock ammo carrier, and clip extension, weighs only 6.5 lbs), and…

    *…they, just like most/all bolt actions, can be customized 6 ways to Sunday, kinda like AR-15/M-16/M-4 style rifles.

    this being said, this is just my opinion and the facts behind my opinion, everybody’s opinions and personal preferences are different, so go with what weapon you prefer and/or the bolt action you already own.

    • PeacefulViolence says
      November 1, 2013, 9:11 am

      not sure about the comparison between a bolt action and a ar15 in customization… Not really even close. But your right that they can be changed to the owners need/want. How big of mag extension did you get? Unfortunately I can not get an extension on mine, so stuck with 5+1

  4. PeacefulViolence says
    November 1, 2013, 9:06 am

    Interesting info, not to bad list of pros and cons. Of course a bolt action belongs in a set of weapons, but shouldn’t be alone. But nothing beats a bolt action when you really have the desire to reach out and touch something at a distance. I don’t believe you covered the weight aspect {maybe I missed it} but for a small additional weight it would add, having a bolt action sling-ed to your back is never a bad idea. They come in tons of calibers, my 5 year old has a 22lr cricket which is pretty fun but slow to reload. The bolt I would carry in this situation is a affordable savage axis in 223, for under 300 bucks its hard to beat, the bonuses include light weight, cheap enough to leave behind if needed, and the best part is the caliber is the same as most ar 15s, so in my eyes its hard to beat.

    this is all just my opinion, just found this site looking forward to going through the rest of it. so far, seems pretty good.

    • admin says
      November 16, 2013, 12:07 am

      You are right about bolt-action rifles having their place. I own three myself. The little cricket is a rifle that I also bought for my son. I believe a good .22 can find a place in any gear list.

  5. Nicholas Wong says
    December 4, 2013, 10:11 am

    Well, there’s the Lee-Enfield, or SMLE, which fires very fast and carries ten rounds.

  6. October 4, 2014, 11:23 pm

    Well I’m late on this topic, but you can get a good sidearm for the close range engagements. You can also have a .223 caliber rifle light ammunition with decent stopping power.

    • admin says
      February 12, 2015, 10:55 am

      You’re never too late! I agree that there are exceptions to everything. I believe a .223 chambered bolt-action rifle could be an excellent choice. This is especially true if you own an AR-15 and don’t want to stock multiple calibers.

      Thanks for the comment and feedback.


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