Hand-Picked Daily GUN DEALS, and Exclusive Coupons Codes >>>

Guns of Pop Culture: “24” and the USP Compact

In a new series here on Pew Pew Tactical, we take a look at the iconic guns of our favorite TV shows and films. First up, "24" and the USP Compact.

James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Bauer captured my imagination as a kid. Like many young men, I appreciated spies, rogues, and men who did the wrong thing for the right reason.

I never cared for the goodie-two-shoes hero. I like the rogue, the man who breaks the rules to save a life occasionally. 

(Photo: Fox)
(Photo: Fox)

And often takes one, or two, or ten. 

Jack Bauer was the hero for a post 9/11 landscape. Season after season, he saved the world — or at least the city as part of the fictional Counter Terrorism Unit. Real-life was scary enough at the time, and occasionally it was good to have a hero save the day. 

Kiefer Sutherland played Jack Bauer and did so with gusto. Apparently, Kiefer Sutherland is a bit of a method actor, and as such, he liked to keep his characters consistent. 

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in "24"
Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in “24”

This included his character’s sidearm of choice.

Throughout the series, Bauer uses a variety of weapons, and in the first two seasons, his sidearm of choice was the Sig Sauer P228. From Season 3 to Season 8, he wielded the Heckler & Koch USP Compact. 

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) points his HK USP-C in "24" S5E01
Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) points his HK USP-C in “24” S5E01

As such, I consider the USP-C his main sidearm.

The USP-C is the compact variant of the USP, and Bauers particular model comes in 9mm. Heck, the USP-C became so connected to the character it appeared on DVD covers and posters with Jack. 

at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The two became interconnected, and by the time the show ended, the pistol was an executive producer.

I kid, but Bauer fans know the gun, and since only two were used as props total giving the show excellent consistency. 

The Putting the P in USP-C 

For a modern, high-tech counter-terrorism unit, the USP-C makes a lot of sense. It’s a firearm designed for police and military forces that’s modern and perfectly suited for duty use. That said, it’s no young buck either. 

USP stands for Universal Service Pistol, and the handgun comes out of the late 80s.

Heckler & Koch USP Compact
Heckler & Koch USP Compact (Photo: The Firearm Blog)

But to be fair, guns haven’t changed much in that time period. You get a double-stack magazine that holds 13 rounds, and you a polymer frame as well as a DA/SA design. 

Initially, the USP prototypes were tested alongside the famed MK 23 in the Offensive Handgun Weapon System program.

Jack Bauer aims his HK USP-C in "24" S6E04
Jack Bauer aims his HK USP-C in “24” S6E04

The OHWS trials impacted the weapon’s development and really brutalized these guns, pushing them beyond normal limits. While the MK 23 became the go-to for the OHWS and Solid Snake, the USP became a smaller, more conventional sidearm. 

The USP initially premiered in .40 S&W.

.40 S&W Round
.40 S&W Round

Most 9mm guns were scaled up for .40 S&W, but with the USP-C, the gun was scaled down for 9mm.

Finally, one of the big distinguishing features is the internal recoil reduction system. This maintenance-free design lowered recoil with the addition of a smaller, second spring in the main recoil spring assembly.

It’s simple but functional and reduces pistol wear and recoil. 

Banging Hammers 

Jack Bauer often turns to the HK USP-C, and as such, he looks comfortable with the gun. He wields it with a high degree of confidence and obviously has been successful for roughly nine days worth of terrorist attacks. 

To be fair, the action scenes in 24 are quite dated. Especially the earlier seasons.

They were network tv, and action choreography was not at the John Wick levels we know now. However, Kiefer Sutherland often did better than ok when wielding firearms. 

In the show, he was a former Delta Force commando, Green Beret, etc., and that might not be evident in his gun handling in 24.

However, he doesn’t look like an amateur by any means. He keeps nice, high thumbs forward grip and doesn’t flinch when he fires. 


There are plenty of dead fictional terrorists in the ground because of Bauer and his USP-C. Of the three spies with JB as their initials, Jack Bauer has always been my favorite.

He’s far from perfect, he’s morally compromised, but he gets the job done. 

Plus, the USP-C is way cooler than the PPK. (Sorry, Bond.) 

This is part of a new weekly series on Pew Pew Tactical dedicated to the guns of TV and film. If you’d like more of this content, drop us a comment below. In the meantime, for more pop culture check out the 9 Most Realistic Gun Scenes in Movies.

The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

4 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Mike Ceci

    It is because of 24 and Jack Bauer that my first handgun purchase was an HK USP .45 and I haven't switched from HK since.

    February 14, 2022 12:59 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jay Culebra

    Like the column! Give us more.

    February 10, 2022 5:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I really enjoyed 24 especially the first few years as it was a gritty, fast paced action show. The violence was surprising for network tv, but it really fed on the anti terrorist feelings at the time. It was like watching a 007 movie once a week! At least how Bond should have been as anyone who has read the books would know.

    February 9, 2022 2:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Just started re watching the series. Funny how he drives 90MPH fights and has time to call his pain in the ass daughter LOL

      February 9, 2022 5:49 pm
Join the community! Log in
Please provide a valid email address.
Password is required.
Please provide a valid display name.
Please provide a valid email address.
The password should contain at least 8 characters with at least one number or special character.
Please accept in order to continue.
Trouble logging in?
Type your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.
Please provide a valid email.
Type your new password and hit button below to confirm it.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We already have an account registered for email address () which is linked to your Facebook account.
To log in type your Pew Pew Meter password below.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We noticed that you have previously logged in with your Account which is linked to the same email address () - we can link both of your accounts together.
In order to link your accounts, hit button below and log in to your Account with the same email as above.

Account in Pew Pew Meter means more

Check what do you get by creating an account
Check and save your reviews!
Bookmark and compare your favorite firearms
Manage your newsletter subscription
pew pew tactical logo

new here?

Personalize your experience.
Select what level shooter you are!

pew pew tactical logo

level up your gun knowledge

Thanks! We'll send you the latest guides and training tips geared towards your level.

pew pew tactical logo


You'll now receive newsletters of our best articles on techniques, guns & gear.

$47 value

yours free!

targets targets

practice targets

printer icon printable

our 9 favorite targets and drills


practice targets

printer icon printable

enter your email to download

We'll only use the information provided according to our privacy policy.

success icon

Ready to Download

Click below to begin your download

download pdf