Because if it's the latter, then I had an awesome thought.
1. Take a chunk of Rowan (a wood renowned for its anti-supernatural properties) and have it cut into toothpicks. Yes, regular toothpicks, but make sure they're the rounded kind.
2. Lacquer the hell out of said toothpicks. I'm not an expert on what kind to use, but definitely go with whatever increases tensile strength of wood.
3. Have your toothpicks loaded into custom shotgun shells. (Having never loaded a shotgun shell before, I may be grossly overestimating their usable payload length; if this is the case, then the toothpicks in step #1 will need to be cut to size before lacquer is applied in step #2.) This isn't as crazy as it initially sounds; flechette rounds for shotguns already exist.
4. Go vampire hunting. If my theory holds true, one good shot to the chest should send at least several dozen wooden fragments deep into the vampire's heart. Assuming you're using a 12-gauge -- and if you're not, you're crazy -- you should have a nice-tight shot group about 6 inches in diameter at a distance of 18 feet; in other words, the size of a saucer from across the room. Odds should be exceptionally good that at least ONE of the toothpick flechettes will slip between the ribs and bury itself in undead cardiac tissue.
This has the following benefits:
- You can carry a whole bandolier full of "stakes" at a fraction of the weight and mass.
- Ranged application vs traditional melee method.
- If you fail to connect... chamber a new round and try again.
- Wood buried deeply in the heart ensures the incapacitation of vampires for large amounts of time. Instead of yanking out a single stake, a "rescuer" would need to go in with surgical apparatus (or at least a melon baller).
- Flechette rounds useful against other soft targets, too.
- You aren't as likely to be sent away to the loony bin for possessing "experimental ammunition" than you are for using anti-vampire wooden stakes.
This is what I think about when I'm bored.