With its polymer frame, space age looks, and modern design, the Glock has become one of the most recognizable firearms in films for the past twenty years.
When the Glock first appeared on the scene in the mid-1980s in the United States, it was strange and seemed foreign. This is probably because, when compared to the traditional single action Colt 1911 with its long slide and wood grips and the S&W wondernines with their stainless steel frames and double-action/single action hammers, the Glock had almost none of these traits.
It was striker fired with no exposed hammer and thus no external safety lever or decocks, giving it a streamlined look. Its 'safe-action' trigger lever was totally new and different to those who used any other handgun. Its magazine capacity, with 18 shots in the Glock 17 model, was the largest at the time with the closest contemporaries being the 13-shot Browning Hi Power and the 15-round CZ75. Even the name, "Glock," after its Austrian inventor, had never been heard of before.
It was new. It was from Europe. It was plastic. Lucky for the Glock, all of these helped carve its role out in Hollywood.
In the oft-forgotten 1989 film, Johnny Handsome, John Sedley (Mickey Rourke) purchases a Beretta 92F and Glock 17 from a gun dealer in preparation for a criminal heist. The gun dealer (Raynor Scheine) displays the Glock 17 in a movie for the first time. While the Glock did some of the best acting in the movie, the film itself wasn't a big hit.
(Photo from IMFDB)
Most people first remember seeing the Glock appear in films in the winter of 1990 when the sequel to the Die Hard franchise, the logically named Die Hard II, used the gun as a plot device. When characters described ex-special forces turned mercenaries needed a gun that was fitting of someone with those skillsets, they picked the Glock. Called incorrectly the Glock 7 (I guess it's easier to say than Glock 17), the gun is erroneously said to be non-detectable to airport metal detectors as its 'porcelain'. This led to a controversy over the import of the Glock that made it all the way to Congress where a bill was unsuccessfully introduced to ban it.
(I guess German-made Glocks are pretty expensive)
Stars and big names
Since Die Hard II, the Glock has appeared in literally hundreds of movies. While bad guys first used it, it has since been seen in the hands of enough 'good guys' to balance this undeserved reputation as a criminal weapon. This has included move heroes Tommy Lee Jones who used it in The Fugitive, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, Matt Damon in the Bourne Ultimatum, Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies and Eraser (hey, he's Austrian), Denzel Washington in Man on Fire, and Ralph Fiennes in Skyfall.
The list is so long that odds are, if it's a Hollywood movie with a handgun in it, set after 1980 and filmed since 1990, it probably has a Glock somewhere in the footage.
Actress Adrianne Palicki of Red Dawn, GI Joe, and Legion fame, seen here with a Glock 17...and rare for Hollywood: proper trigger discipline!
In the ultimate example of things moving in full circles, Bruce Willis has used Glocks himself as a law enforcement character in no less than two movies since Die Hard.
And he didn't even call it a Glock 7....