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I am really struggling in getting my first gun in DayZ for a few reasons.

  • It is hard to survive without a weapon, your only option when spotted by a zombie, is to run and hide. This usually attracts attention and results in you dying through other players, or more zombies.
  • I don't know where to look. Lots of buildings don't even have doors and buildings are always zombie hot spots.
  • Going into cities is a big nono because of the bandit density.

What techniques should I be using and where should I be looking to find a weapon to defend myself with?

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Remember that zombies can't run inside buildings (yet). You can use this to your advantage by targetting only building layouts with multiple exits for looting. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 19 '12 at 19:35
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The first thing you need to learn is which buildings contain loot - despite having lots of different building types, only a couple of buildings in DayZ are actually enterable, and even fewer of those regularly contain weapons.

Take a look at the DayZ DB Map, some good buildings to look in are

  • Office blocks
  • "Fire stations"
  • Supermarkets
  • Barns (particularly the big barns with red rooves)
  • "Pubs" - these are not as good for weapons, however very good for bags and the like
  • Churches (although less so than the above)

Check the DayZ Wiki or the DB for pictures / common locations of these buildings - recognising which buildings are likely contain loot that you want is very handy and shouldn't take long to learn (there are only a handful of "interesting" building types which contain loot)

When it comes to getting your first weapon there are a couple of different tactics - you can either take it slow, sticking to the outskirts and checking barns and other remote areas, or you can run into the middle of the biggest town you can find straight past all of the Zombies (and possibly players).

My preference is the second option - although unquestionably more risky, in the early stages you have very little to loose, and when it pays off you end up kitted out much much sooner than you would have been if you took it slowly. Initially I played it safe however had exactly the same experience as you - you have absolutely no weapons to start with (not even your fists), and sooner or later you are going to pick up a zombie no matter how careful you are. You might live longer, but you probably aren't any more likely to end up with a gun at the end of it.

Take a look at this video guide for a good root around my favourite city for looting my first weapon. The key to looting the big cities is to get in, get what you need and get out quickly. As soon as you have the basics that you need, get out - the longer you stay in a city, the more likely it is that you will loose your recently earned loot.

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He is correct. Be careful when you are in either Elecktro, Cherno, or even Brenzio. The first two are heavy traffic area's with alot of people camping. Brenzio is a little safer, but still keep your guard up. I would recommend Brenzio because of the two hospitals, two supermarkets, and multiple residentail spawns, along with plenty of Industrial spawns in the northern half of the city. Plus there are five small military tents that you can raid for other guns. Good hunting! –  Robert A Palmer Oct 19 '12 at 19:49
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This will be the greatest resource you will ever need in Dayz. The Dayz DB Map will help you determine which houses have loot. Just a Side note: Green=Farm Spawns, Red=Military Spawns, Yellow=Industrial, and Blue= Residential Spawns. I would recommend checking out Residential spawns for some basic weapons. Also if you know where you are on the Map in-game, use the DB map to find the closet Deer Stand. You can generally find basic military grade guns or if your lucky even some more higher end ones. Good Luck and Good Hunting!

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Also the Dayz DB has the maps for Lingor Island, Panthera, Takistan, and Fallujah –  Robert A Palmer Oct 19 '12 at 14:40
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