He’s back. R. Lee Ermey,commonly known as “The Gunny,” the Marine Corps Drill Instructor who’s become an icon, is in his 11th year as GLOCK’s spokesperson. Instantly recognized in his familiar fatigues, combat boots and Marine cover, The Gunny waits at the head of four-hour-long lines at gun shows and other events on behalf of GLOCK in order to connect with his many fans.
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They not only know him from his many movie roles, including the classic film Full Metal Jacket, but also from TV shows, appearances at military and law enforcement affairs, and his roles in the very popular GLOCK commercials they watch on television and on the internet through YouTube.com and the GLOCK website.
If you can manage to work your way to the head of the line and talk with The Gunny, you will find him to be easy-going and a lot of fun. He’ll answer your questions and talk about whatever is on your mind.
We recently caught up with The Gunny and had the chance to bring up several questions we thought would be interesting for readers of GLOCK AUTOPISTOLS, including what The Gunny thought about the company’s newest polymer-framed pistols.
Do you shoot every GLOCK pistol that’s introduced?
Yes I do. It’s not required, but I sure want to. And the latest have become two of my favorites. That’s the GLOCK 41 Gen4 .45 AUTO and the extremely compact GLOCK 42 pistol in .380 AUTO.
The G42 is the smallest GLOCK ever produced, with a handling comfort zone women will certainly appreciate, and which is rapidly catching on with men as well. Its carry and concealment possibilities are obvious, but the G42 packs plenty of firepower and shoots so well that it’s becoming a law enforcement favorite. It’s truly a backup gun gem. GLOCK has pulled out all the stops on extensive development, and it shows.
Did shooting the G42 make you a .380 AUTO believer?
When the pistol was introduced early in 2014, I tried it on the range with a bunch of big burly gun writers who looked at the little pistol with some disdain at first. When they left the range after shooting the GLOCK 42, every single one of them had smiles on their faces, and the comments all around were, “I gotta have one of those.” I feel the same way. I really love this amazing little pistol.
And the G41 Gen4?
I love the G41 as well. In my opinion, the G41 Gen4 and the G42 are the two best pistols GLOCK has come out with, and they have amazed me the most. You have the small G42, while the G41 Gen4 is a full-sized .45 AUTO that handles more comfortably and shoots more accurately than previous .45 AUTO pistols.
GLOCK engineers have figured out how to take the recoil out of the .45 AUTO by making the slide longer and manipulating the springs. This pistol has the recoil of a 9×19. I’m not kidding. It’s a dream to shoot, with a longer sight radius that improved my accuracy.
I have enjoyed talking about these two pistols all this year. And, by the way, with the G41 Gen4 available, the ladies will not have to depend only on a 9×19 for their home protection. They’ll love shooting the G41 for some added firepower.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in GLOCK since becoming the company’s spokesperson?
We are now assembling and manufacturing GLOCKs in the U.S. The plant in Smyrna, Georgia, where GLOCK USA is headquartered, is huge and runs just like the GLOCK plants in Austria. It has new equipment and is primarily manned by people from Smyrna and outlying towns. Hundreds of people have been hired and trained by GLOCK professionals.
Quality assurance at the Georgia facility is second to none. It’s the highest possible priority. Whether manufactured in the U.S. or Austria, GLOCKs will meet the highest possible standards. We demand the highest quality and consistency.
How do you account for the kind of popularity or fame that has people waiting in line for hours to meet you at gun shows?
Everybody seems to have the attitude that I’m like an old friend. People feel they’ve known me for years. The Gunny gets around, working with the military a lot, over 70 movies, including Full Metal Jacket, the hugely popular long-running TV series Mail Call, and also Lock ‘N Load with R. Lee Ermey. There are a lot of commercials like the ones I do for GLOCK. By now, I’m like the guy who lives next door.
It’s still one of the great pleasures of my life to not only meet people but to spend a bit of time with them. I don’t just shake their hand and shoo them along. I talk with them, joke around, give them some time. That’s why the lines are so long. We both have fun. No matter how long the lines are, nobody who waited gets sent away. Sometimes we have to close the lines because time runs out, but nobody who has waited gets disappointed.
The GLOCK Annual Shoot featuring The Gunny Challenge is now the most-attended pistol shoot in the world. You must be really proud of that.
I am proud. Some people come hundreds of miles to attend. It’s a two-day event, in a park-like atmosphere. About a half-hour out of Smyrna, Georgia, we have about 20 pistol ranges all going at the same time. We have things for kids. Everybody’s welcome. We have law enforcement teams, high school teams, all kinds of teams, but individuals can compete as well. The Gunny Challenge itself is an invitational event, but there are plenty of other matches. It’s a delightful weekend out for the entire family.
If you like guns and shooting, you should consider joining the GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF). You can check it out at gssfonline.com. Get some shooting under your belt, then make plans to attend the GLOCK Annual Shoot and The Gunny Challenge.
GLOCK videos are riding high in national popularity. Your newest videos, “Wrong Taxi” and “Wrong Guy,” along with GLOCK’s G42 product launch video, won an incredible 18 awards in this year’s Telly Awards. What’s your secret?
Bill Rogin of Rogin Entertainment, my longtime manager and also the producer, director and co-writer behind these videos, and I are in total agreement: For a commercial to be successful, it has to be humorous. When they’re not funny, they don’t work as well.
I’ve been preaching this forever, but a lot of Madison Avenue types still don’t get it. Our track record shows I’m right. And we’ve taken on the impossible: Making gun commercials funny. However, the message is always there. The GLOCK pistol is a necessary deterrent in all types of self-defense and protection scenarios. A little humor just helps spread the message more effectively.
As far as I’m concerned, the mark of a great commercial is when people will go on YouTube.com and then share our commercials with their friends. That’s what has made our GLOCK commercials so successful. Also, we stress home protection. Men and women at the head of households must protect their families.
When you practice pistol shooting, what do you work on?
You’ve got to have a good solid foundation, and I work on that. Stance and grip. Then comes sight alignment, which differs from person to person and is pretty basic. Then comes the big one: Trigger squeeze, trigger squeeze, trigger squeeze. It’s all about muscle memory, your finger feeling the exact pressure needed to let that round go. We all get anxious. Our nerves screw up the pressure on the trigger, we jerk the gun off target. Foundation, sight alignment, trigger squeeze. Master these elements and you’ll be shooting in the black.
How do you protect your home out in the high desert where you live?
The first thing I do when I go to bed at night is pull my gun out of my safe and put it on my nightstand. I feel very safe and secure. I am protected, I have my gun there. The next morning, the first thing I do is put the gun back in the safe. That works for me as long as there are no grandchildren in the household. In that case, my trusty biometric gun safe is right under the bed, safe and secure, always at the ready.
But during the night, if somebody decides they’re going to get cute with me and break into my house, victimize my family and steal everything they can, they’re going to be looking down a gun barrel. I think that goes without saying.
For more information, please visit US.Glock.com.
This article was published in the GLOCK AUTOPISTOLS 2015 magazine. To see the rest of the issue, please visit Personaldefenseworld.com/publications/glock-autopistols/glock-autopistols-2015.