TV Superstar CSI New York
CSI: New York

I love Law & Order. Oh, I love a land with law and order, but I was talking about the television drama that has been on for 16 seasons now. The Dick Wolf-produced show, which in its current incarnation stars real-life ex-Chicago cop turned actor Dennis Farina (replacing the late Jerry Orbach), and the ever cantankerous Sam Waterston as the “law” and the “order” respectively, is one of the many cop shows that takes place in, and is actually shot in New York City.

CSI New York and NYPD Blue Along with CSI New YorkNYPD Blue and a host of other shows whose action takes place in the Big Apple, these television series highlight one of the city’s police forces most famous attributes—the GLOCK Pistol. Standard issue to the NYPD for over a decade now, the GLOCK autopistol figures prominently in every cop show that is set in and around Manhattan.

We’re talking about dozens of shows, and many hundreds of GLOCKs and their stand-ins working every day, 22 shooting weeks a year.

Television producers are lucky that so many of their hour-long action dramas York, Without a Trace, The Shield, Showtime, The Grid, The West Wing, are based around law enforcement agencies that issue the GLOCK pistol, because it is one of the most reliable semiautomatics ever invented, and perfectly suited to the unique rigors of production.

Unlike real-life cop guns that may be carried for years and only fired for qualification, movie and TV GLOCKs may have thousands of full-power blank loads fired through them every year. They are dropped, thrown, used for hand-to-hand combat, but always keep on ticking. “They always work,” said Weapons Specialist Rick Washburn, the New York based armorer who has supplied GLOCKs to TV shows including Third WatchLaw & Order, Law & Order SVU, Johnny Zero and NYPD Blue. I’ve known Rick for over 20 years, and he was the on-set armorer on a movie I wrote called Universal Soldier The Return, starring Jean Claude Van Damme. “TV shows and movies cost a lot of money a day to shoot,” Rick said, declaring his preference for the Austrian super gun. “A delay for a malfunctioning pistol may cost the show thousands of dollars in crew time.”  Los Angeles-based Motion Picture Weapons’ Rock Galloti agrees.

“GLOCKs are the weapon I turn to all the time because they’re flawless. There are so many models, from 9×19 to .45 G.A.P., that no matter what size an actor is, I can find a GLOCK that fits their hand.”

Ergonomics and Reliability, the same reasons that hundreds of real police agencies have switched to the GLOCK. On the Set with GLOCK When former Silver Spoons star Rick Schroder carried his GLOCK as Detective Danny Sorenson on NYPD Blue, he was 2,000 miles away from the mean streets of Manhattan on the back lot of Twentieth Century Fox Studios. Likewise, the crime fighting crew of forensic detectives seen each week on C.S.I. New York solves their murders on the back lot of Southern California’s CBS Studios.

Carrying GLOCKs supplied by Michael Papac of Cinema Weaponry, these crime scene investigators use their brains, not their guns to supply the fi reworks. “In the case of C.S.I. New York, most of the day-to-day carrying is done with replica GLOCKs—the actor’s holsters are filled with stand-in rubber guns cast in molds made from actual GLOCK pistols, or imported plastic and metal airsoft guns.” But when the baddie is cornered in the final act, the real GLOCKs come out of those holsters, modifi ed to fi re blank cartridges. The GLOCK, like all semi-automatic pistols, has to have the barrel/slide lock up and muzzle constriction altered to allow the force of bullet-less ammo to cycle the action. Each weapon supply house has their own method, and most make their own blanks. This is not a coincidence: the wrong ammo put into the modified GLOCK could spell disaster.

“We have an incredible safety record,” noted Mike Gibbons, owner of Gibbons Entertainment Armory in Los Angeles. “Unlike some of the fly-by-night outfits, every employee who handles guns is a licensed, and proficient gun handler. You can’t take risks when people’s lives are at stake. A GLOCK firing blanks can still injure or kill an actor or crew member at close range.” All the rules of safe gun handling apply—a job made more difficult when several, and sometimes dozens, of guns are working in the same shot.

Safety—First, Last and Always!

Mike and his crew have to make sure that everyone armed has their muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times— even when the camera is rolling. When you see a character shoot another at point blank range, rest assured that the camera shot has been set up to appear that the muzzle and the other actor are in line, when they are actually not pointing at each other. In fact, when blanks are fi red on the set, camera crews filming the action work from behind Plexiglas shields so stray fragments do not endanger them. While Gibbons’ company specializes in renting GLOCKs to big name Hollywood hits like Mission Impossible 3, but more than a few GLOCKs head out of his enormous facility for television projects.

“We’ve supplied GLOCKs for J.A.G., NCIS, Karen Cisco, The Fred Dwyer show Hunter, Monk starring Tony Shaloub, and the crime series Without A Trace.” Mike and his crew were gracious enough to give me a tour through their facility, they were happy to show me their real and fake GLOCKs—including one GLOCK 17L 9×19 that had been fitted with a small telescopic sight for the TV show NCIS.

The gritty crime drama The Shield has gained a reputation for brutality and weapons accuracy. Since the LAPD has recently decided to allow their officers to replace their 9mm Beretta 92s with 9×19, .40 caliber, or .45 ACP GLOCKs, Patrolwoman Danielle Sofer (portrayed by Catherine Dent) has replaced her bulky Beretta with a sleek new GLOCK. The GLOCK has become the face of law enforcement on the tube.

When Dylon McDermott and the team of The Grid take the War on Terror to the terrorists, they do it with GLOCK pistols in their hands. The Secret Service Agents protecting Martin Sheen on The West Wing, the men and women of J.A.G., and the Special Investigators of The ProfilerBoneThe Closer and Without A Trace all use GLOCKs. As more GLOCKs continue to become standard issue for police agencies, the Austrian wonder gun has become as ubiquitous on prime time television as the Cowboy Single Action was in the 1950s.

“The GLOCK has become the face of law enforcement on the tube.”

Editor’s Note: Author John Fasano is the Producer/Writer and Director of such TV projects as Stone Cold, The Profiler, and Saving Jessica Lynch.

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