Attention-grabbing barely begins to describe the new Zombie Hunter AR rifle from Yankee Hill Machine Co. (YHM). Clad nearly head to toe in bright neon green zombie camouflage, this rifle will stand out at any range and will certainly be easy for you to find in a hurry should the need arise.
Although I have not personally tested this on actual zombies, I have it under good authority (the internet) that zombies cannot see this particular shade of bright green. The “Reaper Z” zombieflage features the distinct images of disembodied zombie heads—the only target that counts—and biohazard symbols interspersed with a tearing black and green pattern. This will aid greatly in staying hidden and picking the undead off from a comfortable distance.
This rifle’s impact, however, is far more than skin deep. Underneath a fun exterior, it is all serious business. The Zombie Hunter is a direct gas impingement operated, semi-automatic rifle chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO. This particular rifle is based on the company’s highly regarded Todd Jarrett Competition Series of ARs, which were developed by YHM in conjunction with world renowned competitive shooter Todd Jarrett to meet the exceedingly demanding needs of high-speed tactical competitors.
Guts of the Gun
YHM itself is not new to the AR market and was originally established in 1951 by Wallace Judd and James Graham with an emphasis on quality machining. They are best known today for their extensive line of high quality AR parts and accessories including barrels, handguards, suppressors, scope mounts, sights, muzzle breaks, etc. The company also produces a complete line or AR rifles.
The Zombie Hunter features forged 7075-T6 aluminum matched upper and lower receivers. The rail on the flattop upper receiver meshes cleanly with the top rail on the mid-length Todd Jarrett Competition free-floated handguard to provide more than 15 inches of space for optics and sights.
The well ventilated handguards feature 2.5 inches of Picatinny rail at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions towards the front for mounting accessories such as lights, lasers or bipods and leave the remainder smooth for improved shooter comfort. The rear of the handguard features two steel anti-rotation screws for added strength and a secure fit. The handguard itself is made from 6061-T6 aluminum and hardcoated to military specs.
The chrome-lined 16-inch barrel is made from 4140 steel and can be had with either a 1-in-7 or a 1-in-9 inch twist rate, he later in the case of the sample rifle received. A 1:9-inch twist rate, which means that the bullet completes one full rotation for every 9 inches of barrel length, allows the barrel to stabilize a wider range of bullet weights including very low-weight ammunition. This twist rate will also adequately stabilize heavier bullet weights, although for the heaviest .223 ammunition, some will prefer a faster twist rate, such as 1:8 or 1:7.
The exposed section of barrel and the area under the handguard feature a very distinct diamond-shaped fluting pattern matching the pattern on the handguard. This is far more than cosmetic however and ads rigidity to the barrel while increasing the surface area to promote faster cooling.
YHM also added their low-profile pinch screw gas block, eliminating the traditional A-frame front sight post/gas block. One of the benefits of this is that it allows for a truly free-floated barrel, with the accompanying increase in accuracy, and allows the user to install any length handguard he or she desires. A longer handguard with mounted iron sights extends the sight radius, also helping with accuracy. A free-floated barrel means that the handgaurds to not make contact with the barrel so that there is no possible distortion introduced as a result of pressure applied to the handguard.
For Close Combat
Atop the barrel is a very unique looking muzzle brake/flash hider, which actually resembles a Gothic torture device. A lot of manufacturers are adding an aggressive edge to their muzzle breaks to use as stand-off devices or glass breakers. This one goes several octaves higher. I am sure it would be very effective against zombies that get too close—it is certainly doing a number on the inside of my rifle case.
This limited edition version of YHM’s popular Annihilator flash hider is custom engraved and packs a lot more than looks. It reportedly eliminates 99 percent of visible flash and indeed on the range I saw none. I was told that there was virtually no flash signature when seeing it from the front as well but declined the opportunity to test this.
The rifle comes standard with YHM’s Quick Deploy front and rear iron sights. In keeping with the zombie theme, both are custom engraved with biohazard symbols. These sights are extremely popular, YHM’s best sellers apparently, and feature a quick deployment push button release/lock. The front sight has a rounded, HK-style profile and is elevation adjustable. The rear sight includes both large and small apertures, or can be had with just one or the other, and is windage adjustable only. These sights also have a very low profile when folded to stay out of the way of optics when not needed.
Internally, YHM features all Mil-Spec parts on their ARs including using tool steel for bolts and carriers, and M4 feed ramps at the back of the barrel extension. M4 feed ramps are cut wider and lower, extending past the back of the barrel and into the receiver than on a standard AR rifle. This helps ensure more reliable feeding from the magazine under harsh conditions or in full-auto fire.
The trigger is the standard issue Mil-Spec single stage variety but feels much better than most I have tried with very little creep and a clean break at 7 pounds, but it actually felt lighter than that. I spoke with YHM and they attribute the trigger feel to their high manufacturing tolerances. Indeed the fit between the upper and lower received provided very little play.
The Zombie Hunter comes with a standard Mil-Spec pistol grip and a six-position commercial collapsible stock. The engraving for the fire selector controls and the company logo on the receiver also stand out with a blood red filling. The controls are all standard AR with a right side mounted forward assist and magazine release and a left side safety selector lever and bolt hold open/bolt release.
Headshots Near & Far
A standard Mil-Spec 30-round magazine is included with the rifle and it too is completely covered in zombieflage, making the rifle stand out even more. On the range the YHM Zombie Hunter functioned flawlessly using a mix of ammunition and bullet weights during two days of testing right out of the box with no maintenance.
With a weight of about 6.5 pounds empty and with its short carbine-length barrel and collapsible stock, the Zombie Hunter was easy and comfortable to handle. I would urge caution however in regards to the flash hider as it does have some very sharp points. This rifle was also quite the attention grabber on the range and most certainly made an impression on the living.
No true zombie gun is complete however without a dedicated zombie fighting sight. For range drills I installed the new Ultra Shot Z Series reflex sights from Sightmark. This is a feature-laden and economical sight that is built tough. The illuminated green reticle has four patterns to choose from that can be user-selected on the fly and five levels of intensity for fighting the undead under any light conditions. The sight comes standard with a quick detach mount and includes a length of Picatinny rail on the right side for mounting a laser or small light.
The shock-proof aluminum body offers very quick targeting with unlimited eye relief and 1X magnification for intermediate and close range engagements. It also has a 25-hour battery life on the high setting. On the range the Z-Series sight performed well and made fast hits easy.
To test the rifle’s accuracy potential I used the Trijicon TR20-2 AccuPoint scope with 3-9×40 power and a Mil-Dot crosshair reticle with amber dot. The excellent fiber optics on the Trijicon scope, gather ambient light to illuminate the center amber dot without batteries. This is a very welcome feature especially for anyone who has hit the range with a red dot or illuminated scope only to find a dead battery. The high-magnification setting also makes those much needed zombie headshots easier at greater distance.
I tested the YHM Zombie Hunter at 100 yards from a bench rest and found this to be an extremely consistent rifle with all groups averaging just over 2 inches. My best groups measured 1.5 inches and this level of consistency is indicative of quality manufacturing. This level of accuracy is more than adequate for zombies, where having a reliable and fast-shooting rifle is vital.
The Zombie Hunter is built for fun as well as for performance and will get you noticed by survivors but not by the undead. Make sure to pack plenty of ammo and snacks for the coming zombie apocalypse, lest it is you who ends up on the menu.
For more information, visit yhm.net or call 877-892-6533.
Attention-grabbing barely begins to describe the new Zombie Hunter AR rifle from Yankee Hill…
by Tactical-Life / Jan 8, 2014