Colion Noir is a leading 2nd Amendment advocate and television host who has a passion for firearms…as well as an obsession with the AR-15. We recently sat down with Colion Noir to discuss how his passion for the AR platform started, what he looks for in a defensive carbine, advice for those new to the AR, his perspective on training and much, much more.
Q: Colion, I know you have very nice taste in ARs. Do you recall your first AR or even what your introduction to the platform was?
Colion Noir – It’s interesting, I don’t even remember the first AR I shot (laughs). My first introduction to rifles was really the AK-47. (pauses) Wow…that’s crazy. I really don’t remember. However, it definitely has taken over, I can tell you that much.
As far as the genesis of it all, I remember buying an AK, and then going to the range and shooting other people’s ARs. I started down a path where I was conflicted. That said, I had a serious attachment to my AK, which was an Arsenal SGL 21.
At the time, I guess you could say I was “recoil indifferent.” To me, the recoil was a part of the theatrics…the harder the recoil the better, and as I first started shooting the AR, I can recall that I thought it was a little anemic compared to what I was used to. So, I wasn’t blown away…but I didn’t hate them either.
Q: I would say that as far as AKs go, you had a very nice one to start with…Arsenal makes a nice AK.
Colion Noir – The funny thing is people give me shit for being into high-end, fancy stuff (laughs) but I’ve always been like that. For me, it was if I could only afford the cheapest, I’d rather wait, save up and get something that was better quality. Thats the way I function, but I have friends who are the other way around. They prefer to start low and move up…I don’t think either approach is right or wrong, but for me, I had just fallen in love with the Arsenal SGL.
I can recall researching it, learning about it, and it was where I focused…and so that was my goal. Anything below that, I didn’t even want to bother with. That’s the way I approached it.
Q: Fast forward to today…You get to play with so many different rifles. Can you talk about your impression of the AR versus other platforms on the market?
Colion Noir – I can say with confidence that I am obsessed with the AR platform…utterly obsessed with it. If you put me in any situation, I’m going to try to find a reason why I need an AR. I’m never more confident than when I have an AR in my hand…If I know I am going to be in a situation where I am going to have to defend my life, whether it be at home or out and about, the thing that would make me most comfortable having it in my hand if I had to use it…is an AR.
On top of that, from a simple, recreational perspective, if I am headed out to the range and someone asks “hey, what do you want to shoot today?” Chances are it’s probably going to be an AR of some sort. I have more ARs than I can count. For a lot of people, they say “if you’ve seen one AR, you’ve seen them all.” I don’t necessarily agree with that.
There are definitely some similarities and redundancy, however at the same time, if you’re really into ARs, there’s enough of a difference even though they look similar…they are going to give you a different experience. As it happens, I am an “experiential” shooter. Meaning that I like the experience of shooting. I’m a gearhead, but I’m also about the “feeling”, so to speak (laughs).
Each rifle does something different for me. For example, when I shoot the Honey Badger, I cannot stop giggling. I just giggle…all day long when I am shooting it. Then there are other rifles where you may not get much of an expression from me, but on the inside I am like “dammit, I love this thing.”
Colion Noir on the MR556
I just did a video with my HK MR556, and for all intents and purposes, that gun is awesomely terrible (laughs). It’s overweight, it has way too many proprietary parts, it’s mind-numbingly expensive…but it’s one of my favorite rifles to shoot. I think a lot of that has to do with the intangibles. The way the intangibles are put together…you could say they communicate to me in an intangible way. (laughs)
Yes, the MR556 is heavy, expensive, and it has capture pins that are annoying as hell to try to deal with when you’re taking the rifle apart. But those same elements also make the gun very solid…down to even the finish of the rifle and the resilience of it. I also like the grip and the stock of the MR556. All of that comes together and I just enjoy shooting it.
What I actually spend a lot of time in my videos trying to do is communicating intangibles like that. It’s really difficult because it’s so personal. Sometimes I don’t even really know what it is that is creating that feeling that I have when I’m shooting a gun.
Q: I know you have a lot of time with the MR556, MR762 and some of the PWS offerings. What is your opinion today on a piston gun versus something DI?
Colion Noir – My initial take on piston guns was based on internet conjecture…the idea that a piston gas system in relation to the AK was very similar. And there was the thought that the AK had this renowned reliability. Whereas ARs had this…I wouldn’t say a lack of reliability because that would be insane, but were “not as reliable as an AK47.”
So, my initial take to piston systems was that ergonomically, I preferred the feel of the AR, however I loved the “perceived” reliability of the AK. I say that because at this point, I have seen AKs go down left and right. However, at the time, I thought, “O.K., this is the best of both worlds.”
I looked at the AR piston gas system as like the .40 caliber (laughs). I was like “best of both worlds…reliability of the AK with the precision, ergonomics and esthetics of an AR-15″…and that’s how my interest in piston guns started.
However, as time went on, I found myself gravitating back towards DI gas systems…largely due to the recoil sensation. When you shoot so many ARs, you start to notice the recoil sensations and, on a personal level, you tend to lean more towards one or the other.
I think the reason I love the HK MR556 is it’s honestly one of a few guns where I don’t really notice the piston moving back and forth. It’s probably because it’s so damn heavy. (laughs) Nonetheless, I forget that it’s a piston.
That said, PWS are my favorite piston guns. The reason why is, one, I do love the esthetics of the PWS. I think they do a great job at creating a look that makes them stand out from other ARs without being too “poser-ish.” At the same time, they’re really light, so it’s like I get the benefits of having a light rifle…and as far as reliability, I’d just say that my end-of-days gun is probably still going to be a piston. I’m probably grabbing my PWS MK116.
I say that, but then you may run into some issues with proprietary parts if something goes down or something goes wrong. That game is always fun for us gun guys to go over in our minds (laughs)…but as far as between piston and DI, I still honestly have not been able to decipher which I truly prefer. From a pure shooting standpoint, I’m also thrown off because I’ve shot some PWS rifles that recoil less than some DI guns that had very similar specs.
Q: While not quite an “end-of-days gun”, what is your current “bump-in-the-night” gun?
Colion Noir – Every rifle that I run in my house is a 300 Blackout that is in the AR platform…Every rifle. I live in a multi-level townhome with four floors. On each level I have a rifle set up, because I never really know…I could be anywhere in the house if something were to go “bump.”
Right now, I have a Daniel Defense DDM4 300 Blackout SBR next to my bed, along with my HK45…both of them suppressed. On the second level, I run a Q Honey Badger that stays within arms length, considering where I spend most of my time when I’m in the living room. Then on the bottom level, there’s another rifle in 300 Blackout…
Q: If you were to talk to someone new to ARs, what would you advise them to purchase?
Colion Noir – I go back to myself. When I first got into guns, I did not have a lot of expendable money. A lot of what I had to do was save up. I would say that the access to information we have today is unreal. If I had the information that is available to us now back when I first started about 15 years ago, man…(laughs)…I would cry tears of joy.
So, my big advice to anyone out there looking to getting to get their first AR-15 is to do the research. Go online. Any answer you’re looking for you can find online. Now, I’m not necessarily saying it’s always the right answer, but you can find an answer. Jump online and look it up. What you’ll notice is you start to gravitate towards a particular type of rifle or style of rifle based on what you think.
From there, go out and try to see if you can shoot one of them. That could mean finding a range where you can rent a particular rifle, or if you know friends of yours that you have access to their rifles, then perhaps you can shoot their rifles.
From there, you’ll be able to take what you thought you wanted from an internet perspective, and couple it with real world experience. As that goes on, you’ll know if you liked it as much as you thought you would, or if you need to go back and try to figure out an alternative.
Colion Noir on the Importance of Training Courses
Colion Noir – Once you’ve settled on a rifle and you have that first rifle in-hand, if you have the ability to…or even if you need to save up, you need to take that rifle and take it to a course. Find a course and take that rifle and go. It’s going to be expensive. It’s not cheap, but if you have that ability…do it.
You’ll never learn more about your new rifle than when you take it to a three-day course and run it and see how your rifle fares. One of two different things is going to happen. You’re either going to walk away saying “I love this rifle” or “I hate it.” That’s perspective that you’re going to get…it’s beyond anything you can get from reading something online, or even going to a static range.
Q: I know you’ve trained with Buck Doyle at Follow Through Consulting…who is known to be one of the best around. Can you talk about what you personally look for in an instructor?
Colion Noir – The most important thing…well, it’s kind of a tie. They’re both equally important, but the lack of one can undermine all of the abilities in the world. So, the first is communication and the ability to communicate effectively…in a way that relates to people who are “regular people” who just want an AR to defend their home, or for recreation.
Then secondly, you have the whole idea of experience. I want to learn from someone’s experience of actually doing it. I’ve never been in a gunfight. I’ve never been shot at. I understand that my knowledge in that regard is something that I would only get if it actually happened to me. But even if it happened to me once, it’s only once. But someone who has experienced it multiple times…I can glean so much information from that person. Then I can take that and incorporate it into the skills they are teaching me.
Now, someone can communicate their ass off, but if their experience level is shoddy, then that kind of undermines everything…So, where you get a perfect combination is a guy who is experienced and can communicate.
Q: Are there other criteria you look for?
Colion Noir – After communication and experience, that would be creativity and the ability to adapt. You’re talking about people who have taken their hard earned money and put it towards a class. They’re paying an instructor to teach them something, but there’s a lot of variables that can come with that which an instructor can’t anticipate or necessarily do anything about.
Let’s say you go to a course and it’s raining…well, I’ve watched instructors who excel at this, and at the drop of a dime they can adapt their course, change things up and you still get the skills and information you need. Theres also been times where I’ve seen instructors freeze when things were not going as planned.
I’ve taken some courses where instructors are taking a wide swath of the group’s skills over about half a day, and then making adjustments on the fly about what we’re going to do for the rest of the course. Buck Doyle is really good at that. He can adjust the dynamic of a course to meet ability. I’ve seen courses where a half a day in, the instructor will say “damn, you guys are really on it…let’s ramp it up.” I could tell that wasn’t part of the plan, but the instructor was able to be creative and adapt on the fly.
Q: Moving on…what optic do you prefer…red dot or low powered variable optic?
Colion Noir – I used to be a die-hard red dot guy, however after taking a few of Buck Doyle’s courses I have adjusted my stance on that. Now, I’ve gone from 80% of my ARs having red dots…to where now it’s 50/50 between red dots and variable powered. I think now…my “end-of-the-world” AR is going to have a variable optic on it. It’s going to be something 1-4 or 1-6, with offset iron sites with a Tritium front post.
Q: You mentioned 300 blackout for home defense, but are there other calibers you’ve been playing with recently?
Colion Noir – The caliber that sticks out to me right now is 224 Valkyrie. Largely, because when I took Buck’s course, that was the round that I shot. I used 224 Valkyrie for the almost the whole course. I also used it to shoot out to a mile for the very first time in my life. So, I have a deep attachment to 224 Valkyrie, just based on what it’s been able to do in a course where we were shooting out to 600, 700, 1,000 meters…actively engaging 6” targets with crosswinds going about 10-15 miles per hour. I’ve seen what the bullet was able to do in those conditions and I loved it.
I’m also a big fan of 6.5 Creedmoor. Initially, I walked away from a class hating it, but as it turns out I placed my anger on the wrong thing. This ties back to going out and actually taking a course with your gun. I could not get on target…the rounds were going everywhere…it was just insane. As soon as I got back home and got squared away, I pulled my rifle out, and I noticed my mount was loose. So, I went and ratcheted it down, and boom…it was back on target.
Finally, again, I love 300 Blackout…Aside from home defense…my most extensive hunting experience has been with the Honey Badger in 300 Blackout doing a night time hog hunt. That’s also where I first fell in love with the Honey Badger. We were stalking these hogs and carrying that Honey Badger…it was nothing.
Colion Noir and “Tactical Minimalism”
The gun suited me welI…I think more and more, I am becoming a ‘tactical minimalist”, meaning if I am going out to do something, I want the least amount of gear. When I recently went out to Buck’s course, I donned the least amount of gear possible…I’m to the point now where it’s like “give me a couple of mags in my back pocket, give me my rifle, give me my sidearm, and a small bag and I’m good.”
So that night, being out hunting hogs, walking with just the Honey Badger with it’s slender profile so it was not getting caught up on anything…it was really awesome. I absolutely loved it. The Honey Badger was so light and beautiful, and at the same time, it put the hogs down (laughs). It was definitely the thing that got me to fall not only in love with the Honey Badger but 300 Blackout as well…
Q: Colion Noir is known publicly as someone who is not at all afraid to get in the mix and fight for what he believes is right in regards to the 2nd Amendment. The way you’ve done that is quite unique…can you talk about your approach?
Colion Noir – For me, I love the idea of being a hired gun. That’s why I went to law school. I wanted to be the voice of people who needed someone to speak on their behalf. The way that I approach my videos…some people might complain that my videos are scripted…well, the reason why they are scripted is because I write them in such a way to communicate the most amount of information in the shortest time possible.
Look, I can sit in front of the camera and rant all day long. The problem is, that content is not sharable. The reason why sharing is so important is because people will take my videos and share them with people who do not share the same views that they do. They feel that they cannot explain the issue with the same level of clarity that I can.
I get tons of messages from people who tell me they shared one of my videos and it opened someone’s eyes. So, I make my videos not for people who are gun owners, but for people who are on the fence…people in the middle, who are unsure.
I think about it from that perspective and I think, alright…”I need to keep this video between 4-5 minutes. Because after that, I’m going to lose the audience.” If you’re trying to convince someone and you send them a video that’s 20 minutes long…they’re not going to watch it because it’s too long. I know that for a fact because I’ve had it happen to me.
The problem with the short videos is I have to take complex information and simplify it for people who don’t follow the discussion. Not only that, but I have to provide enough context so that they understand what I’m trying to say. If you do that off-the-cuff, your video is going to be too long, and you’ll be rambling. For someone who wants information quickly who isn’t invested in the issue, I need to get it to them quickly.
Colion Noir on Getting to the Point
If I’m watching a video on a topic I’m not invested in, I’ll get two minutes in and if you’re not giving me the exact information I need to hear to make a decision, I’m turning the video off. So, that’s why I make my videos the way that I do.
I am in the process now of starting a podcast, where it will be more long-form discussions to talk about not only gun stuff, but the social/political environment in our country as well…and some mainstream stuff as well. My goal with that is, because of what I’ve done, I’ve been able to meet a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t talk about the issue, who are pretty notable and high profile. My goal is to have them come on and have those discussions…not only from my perspective, but from their perspective as well.
Q: Where’s the best place to learn more about what you’re up to?
Colion Noir – This is going to sound kind of arrogant (laughs), but the best place is to just Google me, or go to mrcolionnoir.com which is my website. I also have an online store at shop which you can find at shop.mrcolionnoir.com. I’m also on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube…you name it, I’m on it.
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