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Swords vs Zombies: 8 Essential Blades for Surviving the Apocalypse

Written By: David Mickov
Published On: March 7, 2023
Edited by: Juliana Cummings

NO AI USED This Article has been written and edited by our team with no help of the AI

Zombies swarming in search of human flesh are a staple of modern-day end-of-the-world fiction. Whether you are a survivalist who thinks this is possible or just curious about the topic, you have probably thought about what weapon would most effectively save you and your family’s life.

In our opinion, the best zombie fighting weapon is the sword but not the type you regularly see in markets with zombie blades or spiked pommels, which are less effective. We are talking about historical swords that were very good at cutting through both flesh and brains. In this article, we’ll show you the best swords to have in case of a zombie apocalypse.

What Kind of Zombies Are We Talking About?

Zombies are fictional monsters most commonly seen in horror and science fiction works. Zombies can take on different personalities and actions, depending on who tells the narrative. Here are some of the most popular kinds of  zombies in media:

  • Slow – these zombies are usually portrayed as mindless, shambling hordes who can barely move. They usually occur when a virus spreads or a curse brings the dead back to life.
  • Fast – these zombies, sometimes called “runners,” are much more agile than the slow variety and tend to be portrayed as more aggressive and rush toward their victims.
  • Smart – infected with a virus that makes them violent and intent on spreading it, these zombies are terrifying. They are the most dangerous due to their possible retained intelligence, ability to solve problems and incredible speed. 

To find the deadliest and most powerful swords that can take on zombie hordes, we will mix all of these and follow the most likely zombie narrative to come to reality. Examples would be those seen in 28 Days Later, Train to Busan, fungus-type infections like those from The Last of Us, and the zombies seen in The Walking Dead.

Longer Swords

Longer Swords
Long swords useful for fighting in open terrain – Credits: Wallpaper Access

A longer sword may have greater reach, but it would be difficult to wield effectively indoors. Searching for rations in rooms with short ceilings, walls, and narrow halls that limit the space needed for movement makes longer swords inferior. 

Some swords, like the straight Rapier, Scimitars or any curved sabers and even large Greatswords, would be great for stabbing, slashing and chopping off heads, but they still wouldn’t be ideal. However, the following swords could still be effective.


Katana 2
The most popular sword ever – Credits: Holm Hansen

We will start with the most popular weapon from the arsenal of Japanese swords, the legendary Katana. It is most often seen in media, video games, and anime and portrayed as the most powerful weapon against all types of fictional monsters, especially the ones made by the popular swordsmith Masamune.

The Katana would be a very good weapon for hacking and slashing attacks due to its curved blade. It has good reach when dealing with slower enemies, is easy to carry around and offers very strong strikes. However, it does have a hard edge, which, after a lot of use and a couple of bad edge alignments, could lead to deformity of the thin blade.

Because it is a two-handed sword, it won’t be very effective if you found yourself cornered by attacking zombies. 

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The best European dueling sword – Credits: Johan_S

Another two-handed sword seen as one of the strongest weapons to use in a zombie apocalypse is the European Longsword. This double-edged straight blade offers powerful slashing strikes while also being capable of thrusting. Its guard can also help protect the user’s hands from zombie bites.

But this isn’t a short sword, meaning it could be harder to carry and use in tight quarters and would not offer life-saving capabilities when rushed by a zombie. The wielder would likely get exhausted by swinging it around excessively, which is not the most effective method of battling a zombie apocalypse.

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Arming Sword 

The Arming Sword is a shorter and more compact type of longsword that could be utilized for slashing and thrusting strikes. The difference is that the swordsman could also use a shield for defense, which plays an important part when being attacked by zombies.

Carolingian / Viking Sword

Previous to the Arming Sword comes the Carolingian Sword. Both swords were broad and offered immense cutting power. Because it does not have a large guard or handle, it can be carried comfortably. It can also be used with a shield easier than the previously mentioned weapons, making it an incredibly powerful tool.  

Shorter Swords

Shorter Swords
A horde of Zombies is incoming. Hide in a building! – Credits: Dead Rising 3

We believe shorter swords are the way to go if that fateful zombie apocalypse day does come. Shorter swords would be less cumbersome to bear, easier to unsheath in close-quarter scenarios and more efficient at striking. Ultimately the best short swords would have shorter reach without sacrificing raw power, especially when combined with a shield.


Gladius 1
The sharp and short Roman Gladius – Credits: Juani Forn

Gladius swords have a special and unique purpose when it comes to zombies. They appear like a sword but are designed for chopping like a longsword or machete and puncturing like a dagger. In return for their reduced reach, they gain a devastating swing and a swift stab.

They are easy to carry as they can be tucked into one’s belt and worn on either the right or left side, as used by the Roman Empire. If manufactured with the proper type of steel, they would have excellent durability because of the shorter blade. If you were looking for rations in tight areas, the Gladius would function tremendously. Combined with a shield, they would be one of the best and deadliest swords in a zombie apocalypse.

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The leaf-shaped sharp Xiphos – Credits: Satori Lotus

The Xiphos is a short weapon capable of producing a forceful slash similar to a sword and a sharp stabbing motion similar to a knife. We think it would be the best weapon to employ in a zombie apocalypse, and we place it higher or on par with the Gladius.

Its leaf-shaped blade widens as it extends, making it more effective for slashing than a Gladius. If designed and made with suitable steel by a skilled swordsmith, it would allow for a simple thrust push into a zombie’s brain or a strong cut that would slice open its skull. It’s considered the best zombie slayer since it’s lightweight, compact, and versatile enough to be used as an everyday tool as well as a weapon.


Testing the powerful zombie slayer machine – Credits: Skallagrim

This sword is perfect for the zombie apocalypse, both functionally and aesthetically. A strong, practically unbreakable blade is crucial for cutting through flesh and bone, while the shorter length makes it useful indoors. Additionally, using a two-handed grip provides significantly more power when swinging if needed.

Although not truly historical, it closely resembles a slightly modified Greek Xiphos sword, so we can consider it as such. A 23 to 27-inch (60 to 70 cm) long Diphos is easily one of the best swords, if not the strongest, for any type of zombie scenario, especially when combined with a see-through riot shield.


Any type of these blades will do just fine – Credits: Luka.fox

The Machete is a short sword that would be an ideal fit for a zombie apocalypse. There are different types of blades, but its broadness and slight curve would be perfect for self-defense against zombies, using slashing and stabbing attacks.

It is light to carry around and can be used as a daily tool for various purposes like cutting rope, food, or digging. It is also an easy one-handed sword to use, and when combined with a shield, it would be superb. The Kukri and Falcata are other machetes that fit in this category.

Type of Steel

Steel is the strongest metal for a sword designed for slicing through zombie flesh. Yet, not all steels are created equal, and several perspectives must be considered. Some people will argue that the sharper the blade, the better, most often referring to the popular Damascus steel. But we must respectfully disagree.

In our opinion, the best steel for a perfectly durable, sturdy, heavy, and powerful sword in a zombie-dominated world is tool or spring steel. This type of steel is perfect for blades that do not wholly rely on their sharp edge for cutting power and won’t break as easily after a lot of use.

Sources Cited
  1. Brooks, M. (2003, September 16). The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. Del Rey.
  2. Ma, R. (2010, April 6). The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead. Berkley.
  3. Brooks, M., & Roberson, I. (2009, October 6). The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. Del Rey.
  4. Kirkman, R., & Moore, T. (2008, December 15). The Walking Dead.
  5. Nelson, M. A. (2010, March 8). 28 Days Later.
  6. Brooks, M. (2007, October 16). World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Del Rey.
  7. Wilson, L. (2014, October 28). The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse: A Cookbook and Culinary Survival Guide. SmartPop.
  8. Nemeroff, C. (2008, October 15). Mastering the Samurai Sword: A Full-Color, Step-by-Step Guide.
  9. Schmidt, H. (2014, November 28). Sword Fighting: An Introduction to Handling a Long Sword.
  10. Vargas, F. (2019, December 28). Combat Machete Volume 1.
  11. Loades, M. (2011, March 4). Swords and Swordsmen. Pen & Sword Military.
  12. Woods, M. B., & Woods, M. (2000, January 1). Ancient Warfare: From Clubs to Catapults.
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