He’s been GLOCK’s spokesperson for 12 years now. After over a decade of interviews, photographs and personal appearances, R. Lee Ermey—better known as “The Gunny”—continues to spread the word about GLOCK with energy and creativity.
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The lines of folks waiting to chat with him and have photos taken with him are still two to four hours deep at industry events. The numerous GLOCK commercials that he has starred in over the last few years have all become hits, garnering millions of YouTube views and winning a plethora of prestigious Telly and Communicator Awards.
He hosts the TV series GunnyTime, sponsored by GLOCK, about weapons technology of the past, present and future. The “Gunny Challenge” GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) match he hosts every fall is even near GLOCK’s headquarters in Georgia and is the most attended shooting match in the world. Did you copy that? In the world.
Dressed in his familiar Marine-style outfit of boots, dungarees, field shirt and cover (that’s a hat, in case you didn’t get the word), The Gunny continues to be America’s Marine who retired but kept showing up for duty.
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The Gunny may have served in the Marines, but it was his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the film Full Metal Jacket that burned him into the consciousness of the millions who have seen the film. In fact, The Gunny received the “Most Memorable Character” award at the GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C., this year. As he accepted the award, the first words out of The Gunny’s mouth were, “Over 30 years later, old Full Metal Jacket is still paying off.”
We recently caught up with our favorite Marine to chat with him and find out about how things are going.
Has your show GunnyTime achieved your goal of being even better than Mail Call?
We did 11 episodes in our first season of GunnyTime, and we are just trying to get up to speed. We didn’t have the luxury of having as much travel time as we would like. When you want to do a show about a special tank, they’re not going to bring that behemoth to you. You have to go where the tank is. This next season we’ll be on the road a lot more. Already, the show has been extremely successful. As I understand it, after four or five episodes, GunnyTime immediately went on to become one of the highest-rated shows on the Outdoor Channel.
What makes your show GunnyTime so special?
GunnyTime is Mail Call on steroids! We have fun. My job description is that I’m the guy who goes around and plays with everybody else’s toys. The folks who are watching the show would like to actually be firing the guns, driving the vehicles and blowing up stuff the way I’m doing on the show. But they can’t. So they’re doing it through me.
You have a lot of high-speed video on GunnyTime.
We’ve gone to great lengths to bring reality to the show in a way nobody else does. Our cameras and sound devices are state-of-the-art high tech, and they show action with cutting-edge technology—like the flight of a bullet or shell. You see the explosion in ways that are amazing, beyond just interesting, and impossible for the naked eye to see. We have six or seven cameras going at a time
for almost every shot.
Your GLOCK commercials on YouTube have garnered several prestigious awards. What’s the secret for such success?
People laughing, enjoying what they’re seeing. So much so that they want to tell their buddies about it. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t put humor into your commercial, it goes right in a person’s ear and right out the other. We measure how many people come to the website and take that commercial and share it with their friends.
When people talk with you about their GLOCKs, what is the comment you hear most?
Reliability. I would say that about 75 percent of all the people I talk with have more than one GLOCK. They usually have two or three. It seems that GLOCK is one of those handguns that, when a new one comes out, these experienced customers can’t wait to go down and get it.
What’s got GLOCK enthusiasts excited right now?
I’m hearing a lot about the the G43 introduced in 2015. It’s a 9×19, a small single-stack, and it fits in your hand just beautifully. Small guns have traditionally been considered backup guns by law enforcement officers, and with a lot of smaller backup guns accuracy suffers. With the GLOCK 43 pistol, you’re right on target. It’s a really accurate little gun, a sweetheart of a gun.
If you could only shoot one GLOCK pistol the rest of the year, which one would it be?
Probably the GLOCK 41 Gen4. It’s a full-sized .45 AUTO, but GLOCK has made the slide a little longer and adjusted the springs in there so that when you shoot the G41 Gen4 the recoil is tamed. The pistol doesn’t rear up like most high-powered pistols. This pistol comes straight back at you so you’re right back on target—immediately! Somehow they’ve manipulated the springs in the G41 so that it has the recoil of a 9×19. It’s a very polite .45 AUTO. GLOCK has taken the bite out of shooting such a big bore. This is .45 AUTO firepower minus the recoil.
Are recoil and hand size real issues for female shooters?
Not with a GLOCK. Women considering a handgun for self protection or the fun of target shooting will find GLOCKs easy to handle for every hand size. They include the smallest GLOCK ever made, the G42 in .380 AUTO, or you can step up in firepower to the new GLOCK 43 in 9×19, which is perfect for smaller hands and offers great handling and friendly recoil.
Is that why you’ve been featuring Team GLOCK’s Tori Nonaka and Michelle Viscusi in the “GLOCK Minute” segments on GunnyTime?
Our female shooters on Team GLOCK serve as living encouragement, demonstrating to women everywhere that they can certainly handle handguns as well as men and that the ladies really ought to give shooting a try. GLOCK has been encouraging women this way for years.
Are Team GLOCK shooters so good because they know things others don’t know?
It’s the confidence they build from their massive practice time. Confidence has a lot to do with performance. Instruction and practice build the confidence that makes you feel you’re going to step up to the plate and do well. If there’s even some little spark that makes you lack confidence, you’re not going to do your best. Knowledge and practice breed confidence. That’s what it takes. I love what Tori Nonaka said on GunnyTime about shooting: “It’s a perishable skill.”
Does your wife shoot?
I travel constantly, and I don’t worry about Mrs. Gunny’s safety because she’s a force to be reckoned with. She took to shooting from the time of her very first lesson. She takes the pistol out of the safe and puts that pistol on her nightstand, and it’s ready to go. In the morning, she puts it back in the safe. We have no children in our house. If there are children, I recommend a biometric safe that can be opened quickly, but only by the appropriate persons.
What about your daughters?
All my daughters shoot. You can look in the cabinet where I keep my 9×19 ammo. We’re constantly restocking because my daughters burn it up, taking me up on my offer to buy their ammo I made to them back when they were learning to shoot. They have their own GLOCKs.
What makes the Gunny Challenge so popular?
You can hob-nob with The Gunny and see a celebrity shooter in action. Our instructors take new shooters, including kids, under their wings and show them gun handling and safety. Plus we’ll feed you. It’s a family affair, and that’s what makes some people come hundreds of miles every fall to be on the ranges near GLOCK’s headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia. All you have to do to get involved is join the GSSF. Check it out at gssfonline.com.
Who’s the best celebrity shooter you’ve seen at the Gunny Challenge?
I must say it’s Adam Baldwin. He stars on the hit series The Last Ship right now, and he was “Animal Mother” in Full Metal Jacket. He’s not only a really good shot, but everybody loves him. He’s a great guy and personality. He’s got a magnetic personality. He’s totally different from the tough and bitter guy he played as Animal Mother.
The GLOCK Safety Pledge is something you promote all year, right?
It’s all logic and common sense, and the minute you pick up a firearm you have to have these pledges in the back of your mind to be safe. Whenever I pick up any gun, any time, the first thing I do is to check and see if it’s loaded. And I never, ever let that barrel point toward a person, no matter what I’m doing with the gun—checking it, cleaning it, pulling it out of a case, loading it. The gun never points at a human being. And when I’m ready to shoot, I make sure of my target and what’s behind it. These things are just plain good common sense, and they do indeed save lives. The Safety Pledge keeps reminding us of their importance.
Do you ever do any handgun hunting?
I hunt hogs with the GLOCK 10mm AUTO. That’s the only way to hunt pigs. I’ve taken hogs at 75 yards with the 10mm AUTO. It’s the perfect hog gun for me. Tuskers hit with that 10mm AUTO drop in their tracks, from close range on out. A 75-yarder was my longest shot, but I wouldn’t be afraid to try one at 100 if I had to. Generally, we’re talking about tight cover in pig hunting. But the 10mm AUTO gives you the confidence to be ready for any range. It’s a one-shot chance that you get. I use iron sights, and I’ll rest the GLOCK 40 Gen4 MOS on a limb or tree if it’s available, but I’m not afraid to shoot off-hand.
You recently visited GLOCK’s Austrian plant. How does the GLOCK facility in Georgia compare to the one in Austria?
They’re doing exceptionally well. We are manufacturing GLOCKs in America as fast as you can blink your eyes. The shops we have in Smyrna—you can eat off of the floor. It’s as clean and neat and well run as the ones in Austria. Nothing but success and amazing precision. The Austrians don’t accept anything less. You know that. It’s their way of life. When they set about doing something, they go 100 percent. The work gets done with a lot of class. A GLOCK from Smyrna is as precision-made as a GLOCK from Austria.
For more information, please visit US.Glock.com.
This article was published in the GLOCK AUTOPISTOLS 2016 magazine. To see the rest of the issue, please visit Personaldefenseworld.com.