So I went to a gun show...


White Horseradish
September 26, 2004, 03:22 PM
Yesterday I went to a gun show for the second time in my life. I walked away wondering what the point of going there was...

I don't know, maybe 2 shows aren't a big enough sample to decide, but I was thoroughly unimpressed. Both shows seemed to have a very similar composition. New guns going for more than at local stores, surplus that obviously comes from AIM or SOG with a healthy markup, crap knives at inflated prices, collectors pieces far out of my price range and beyond my ability to tell if the price is good.

The highlights included a Hi-Point carbine for $200+ that I have seen at a local shop for $150, a $35 knife that is a twin of the one I picked up for $7 at a hardware store, a $250 Nagant revolver currently available fron SOG for $79 and $200 CZ-52's ($99 most everywhere). A PA63 ($137 at SOG) was sold as a Russian Makarov for $250. Now, I can't fault a guy for buying a gun for $100 and trying to sell it for $150, that's the American way. I just don't understand who'd buy it for that much. Didn't seem to be much buying going on, so i must not be the only one that thinks this.

What I also don't understand is where are the deals I've heard about. I saw only one pistol for less than $200 and it was some kind of very rusty hammerless revolver. The only thing that didn't look overpriced to me was some pistol cases. That and a $2 donation to some guys lobbying for CC in Minnesota.

So, are gun shows generally traps for suckers or am I missing something here?

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September 26, 2004, 03:24 PM
Were these dealers anywhere near the beef jerky, baseball card or jewelry vendors? I went ot a gunshow last weekend and saw $49.99 Glock mags,
$39.99 AR mags and and $1500.00 Pre-ban AR's.

But there were some good deals too.

September 26, 2004, 03:32 PM
I always dig gun shows, even when I don't buy anything. (umm, kinda rare). You get to see and handle all kinds of things that you don't typically see.
You also get an idea of what guns you might be interested in are selling for (or around)
But I wonder if you realize that the price marked isn't usually the price they are willing to sell things for. I've seen this complaint on a couple threads. The listed price is only their opening offer. It's like a car dealer, you gotta bargain.
Some guys never bargain, but they don't sell much either.

anyway, at the very least, there is usually the ammo guy somewhere selling plinking rounds at good prices.

White Horseradish
September 26, 2004, 03:47 PM
Well, even if I take the price as an opening bid, if a guy asks $250 for a gun, how much can he knock off? $50, maybe. And it's still a $79 gun. That really does not give me confidence in his other prices...

September 26, 2004, 04:14 PM
Gun shows are always a crap shoot.

I find that you have to know exactly what you are looking for.

I picked up a perfect 1969 Browning Hi Power at a gun show for $550.

Yesterday I went to the gunshow in Denver.

There were a lot of absolutely excellent deals on revolvers at a number of the tables. A Dan Wesson .357 in the case with three barrels for $340. The lock up was tight and the blue was 95%

I saw several other excellent examples of .38's, .357's and .44's in the $350 range.

There are always the tables trolling for people with more money than time or for those who just don't know. I showed my wife a real cute S&W .357 in the ladies ultra light form. I was laughing about it being nearly impossible to shoot. The sales guy stood there and told me it was a soft shooter. He was good for a chuckle anyway.

Go early, go often, know exactly what you want. Enjoy the rest of the spectacle. I know of no other country on earth that has anything like a good old American Gun Show.

September 26, 2004, 04:22 PM
If you think THAT's bad you should see the local pawn shop. :D (Mosin Nagant 91/30 for $400)

Dunno what the heck somebody is thinking trying to get $250 for a Hi-Point carbine when the next table over has 'em for $150.

If you know what you're looking for it's more fun -- but I do like to browse and see what kinda old mil-surp stuff that might be around at a decent price. Ya never know.

Definately have to go early though.

September 26, 2004, 04:57 PM
About 15 years ago around here. And from what I hear from people who do go I am saving $10 on the admit ticket and not wasting time looking at the same old stuff I have seen for years. Seems many out of state dealers set up tables with lots of sucker items. Also they have so much non firearm stuff being sold like gold chains and music CDs. I used to pickup some reloading items but since I stopped reloading a while back I see nothing I can't get from a local dealer or buy online. There was a time when they had people who set up really good firearm displays Like one man and wife who had a really large group of 1911s. Those days are long gone around here.:(

White Horseradish
September 26, 2004, 05:09 PM
If you think THAT's bad you should see the local pawn shop. (Mosin Nagant 91/30 for $400)

Well, I haven't seen it this bad, but a pawn shop around here had a 91-30 with a chopped barrel, some kind of homemade front sight, homebent bolt with major burn marks and a missing handguard for $239 tagged as "rare Russian rifle" :banghead:

September 26, 2004, 06:06 PM
I once heard a quote that went something like this:

'Gun shows are a common meeting ground where buyers think that every dealer is desperate to get rid of their merchandise at half off, and dealers thinks that every customer is an uninformed individual willing to pay twice their cost' - I don't remember where I heard that :)

Not all gun shows are a rip off, and in the same sense not all will have incredible deals. All I expect is a place where I can look at many options at once from many dealers at once, and pay a price fair to me and the dealer. If you go with the expectation that you will find exactly what you are looking for at an incredible price, you will probably come home dissapointed.

I also find some of the best deals can come from the private sellers walking around. But there, it is simply a matter of brushing up against the right person at the right time.

September 26, 2004, 06:23 PM
I like going just to see the bumper stickers.:p

I pick up match ammo at a good price, the stuff I use for carry and defense. (Plinking stuff I buy by the brick online.)

I also will run into a speciality item from time to time, such as my SIG P228, which is hard to come by (and I got for a decent price), not to mention the old "Hi-caps", which are now, thank gawd, found anywhere. Wild Bill's Holsters are always at the local shows (out of Garner, NC), and I like their stuff.

You know, where else can you find hot fried elephant ears?! It's just a redneck Disneyland.:D

September 26, 2004, 06:24 PM
I saw a real bargain at our local gunshow yesterday - a Winchester 1873 military musket, with the full-length wood fore-end, in .44-40, priced at $1,200. That's a pretty good price, judging by others I've seen occasionally on auction. However, I'm not into that sort of collecting, so I passed it up.

Partisan Ranger
September 26, 2004, 06:29 PM
I haven't bought anything at a show yet, either (cept for some earrings for the wife). I like to go just so I have the chance to handle a wide variety of guns, wider than I find at my local stores.

My purchases occur online only. Gunbroker etc. is the cheapest way to buy a gun, IMHO.

September 26, 2004, 06:35 PM
Poped in to this forum to ask "Any good gun shows in S Maryland?" I saw this post and now feel it may be a waste of my time. Good read though.

September 26, 2004, 06:39 PM
surplus that obviously comes from AIM or SOG with a healthy markup

Don't those prices only apply to people with 01 or 03(C&R) FFL's? Someone correct me if I am wrong please. At least that is what I had understood from the sales policy on AIM's web site.

I just don't understand who'd buy it for that much.

The average gun show attendee doesn't know or have a clue as to the value of milsurp weapons. Most don't care. For alot of us it is a hobby/passion and we see some of the asking prices and think the dealer is on crack. But, there are many who won't even question and buy anyway.

There are deals to be had, but they are rare and you really have to look. If you take the shows for what they are you can have always have a nice time. I look at shows as a chance to handle some guns that my local shops don't keep in stock or before I consider buying one online. That was I have an idea of what I am getting.

I even get a kick out of some of the junk peddlers. It is amazing what some people will try to sell. Its even more scary some of the people that buy said junk.

carp killer
September 26, 2004, 06:50 PM
Gun shows are a crap shoot. I will go to five shows and see nothing. Then all at once I'll see three excellent deals at one show. Sorta like going to garage sales, thirty with womens clothes, broken toys and exersize equipment to one with tools and gun stuff.

September 26, 2004, 06:53 PM
Which one did you go to? I went to the one in Hutchinson and found a couple of deals including a varmint rifle rest for $40.00 and a very nice older Weaver scope for the same price. I know what you're saying, though, about about crazy prices. I found another scope exactly like the one I bought, only they were asking $125.00. That's the American way.

My personal favorites were: $150.00 for an old Redfield 4x scope, $400.00 Saigas, $250.00 Russian M-44's because some guy put custom stocks on them, and a CETME that was billed as a long range target rifle. I'm happy with what I bought.


September 26, 2004, 07:09 PM
I bet you went to the show in Brooklyn Park? Well, most of the time Croc. Production shows are not good! Their one good one is in Jan. or Feb. St. Paul Armory. You need to go the MN Fairgrounds next weekend. The shows put on MN Weapons Collectors Assn. MWCA ( are bigger and with more to be had. The MWCA show at Chaska sucked! The shows at the MN Fairgrounds are usually better!

I was at the BP show today and it was the usual suspects. And, their attendance was way off! The shows 10 years ago had more new stuff. But, I think that the internet has lessened the desire of dealers to stock much!

September 26, 2004, 07:28 PM
You want to see a sick sight, you need to go to an Alaska gun show....we call it "same stuff, different table"

And of course with my winnin personality, the vendors just love me...if they dont know who I am they will soone find out when they try to, let say for example, pass off a Blue Sky import that someone drilled himself as an original M1D...told that guy flat out that he was a lyin c***sucker...

Cant wait for the next one, so I can just giggle at the one vendor who told me that the assault weapon ban would be reinacted, so I better buy his preban for $2000...

On the other hand, I grabbed my M38 Swede for a guy at a gunshow for $225


George S.
September 26, 2004, 07:53 PM
Some gun show vendor will barter with you especially if you can show them you know what you are after and have as good, if not more, information than they do. The barter part is sometimes fun and when you get a good deal, both parties win. Some of the vendors at the show I attend have the same stuff for a whole year and it never sells.

I have seen some new guns at very good prices and every so often a dealer will have "gun show only" prices that really are cheaper than the same gun at their store.

A few months ago I passed up a chance at a very nice Ruger Redhawk .44mag that was priced at $375 with a 20% off sticker for cash. It was about 95% and felt brand new. Should have bought it.

September 26, 2004, 07:58 PM
Around my area you can usually find good deals at gun shows. We have 1 or 2 big gun shows a month, and you can usually find a bargain. Used to be able to get bulk ammo at a bargain but now with the super stores like Bass Pro Shops and online dealers the ammo isn't really a deal anymore.

Bwana John
September 26, 2004, 07:58 PM
Try the SAR gunshow, in Phonix, AZ in Dec. Every vendor that advertises in ShotGun News are there. One of the last truly great GunShows.

September 26, 2004, 08:58 PM
Went to the local show here in Denver today.

Did the dealers not hear about the AWB ending? "Pre-ban" Colt AR-15 HBAR for $2000, Sig P226 15 round mags, $75, and on and on and on.

Saw a nice LEO marked Bushmaster M4 type AR, $1398.00!!! Price tag said "this LEO marking will make it a collector's item". Heard another dealer telling a guy the same thing on a magazine, "really?" said the unsuspecting victim. Ooooooooohhhhhhh, you got one just as the ban ended, wowwwwww!!

There were a few good deals though if you looked hard enough. (I got a good quality used AR mag for $5) But, it looks like I'll do my shopping online.

September 26, 2004, 09:44 PM
The more I go to gun shows the more I am convinced that good deals are becoming harder and harder to find there.

Overall I'm really dissappointed but I'll still keep attending them. If for no other reason than to wonder about who all the people are that are buying guns there at overinflated prices.

Most of the shows I attend have Pawn Shop dealers setting up tables full of their used lost in pawn wares. Knowing that the most they paid on a pawn loan for these guns was maybe 50% of used gun value, has me wondering how they can sticker them for more than what a new gun would sell for at one of the super marts.

I'm all for profit but there's good business practices and I believe that ripping off customers like this is not a good business practice.


September 26, 2004, 10:14 PM
I've pretty much given up hope of finding deals at a show here in WA, however hope springs eternal. Despite this I joined the WAC, (Washington Arms Collectors) the group that runs the shows in Western WA, as they do lobbying and support our rights. Perhaps this is reason enough for us to continue to go to shows.

September 26, 2004, 10:40 PM
I have been to the Dixie Gun & Knife Classic at the NC State Fairgrounds twice, purchased guns both times and felt good about it. The first was the CZ-52 that I bought last year from a vendor called Classic Arms for $139.
Sure you might be able to get one directly from AIM for $99. But most FFL's are going to charge you at least 30-45 bucks for the transfer, so now it's a wash on the price, and the gun show has the advantage of A) No torturous wait for your gun to arrive, and B) you get to actually see and hold the weapon before you purchase it.

The second time I went was in August when I purchased my Bulgarian Makarov from the same dealer for $149. At that time he had about half a dozen CZ-52's going for $119, except one that they had just finished refinishing beautifully in nickel, that one was $179, and I may pick one up if he has one at the next show in November. For such a gorgeous and durable finish I'll shell out the extra sixty bucks.

September 27, 2004, 05:43 PM
You go to the gun shows for the show, WH, and if you accidentally find a bargain, all the better.;) Even if it hadn't been skipper's BD, I wouldn't have gone to that one, I would have gone to the one in Altoona, WI. The one they had there in May is where I picked up that 1899 Izhevsk Finn M91 and FrankenTula, that you saw. Neither of them is very pretty, but $65 for the pair, and $10 on ebay for a stock for FrankenTula, and I have two good shooting Mosins. Of course, the dealers salivate when someone like my boss, John, goes to the show. He picked up a Saiga .308 at that show on a whim. I showed it to him as we walked in, and he had to have it. Guess that's why he works two jobs!:p (I have to pay bills with the two jobs I work.:mad: )
I pick up odd boxes of 7.62x54R to try out in the Mosins at shows, parts when I find them cheap, and usually several knives for skipper's collection.:rolleyes: But I always have my eyes open, you never know when you'll find that M1907 carbine for 50 bucks. ;)

I don't have the link, but there was a hilarious thread about gun shows, and 'Da AK wit' da switch':evil: a while back.

September 27, 2004, 05:54 PM
I was of a very low opinion of gunshows, like you. I had been to two gun shows and was thoroughly unimpressed by the "deals" offered. I went to a gun show this weekend though and even though it was small it was about 98% guns and knives. Everything seemed to actually be a deal also, or they seemed more willing to dicker granted it was in Pahrump but I think their were as many guns at this one as at the ones 5 times bigger in vegas.

September 27, 2004, 06:15 PM
Im kicking myself for not buying a S&W model 10 in 32-20 for 150.00 at this show.They havent made it in that chamber since 1941

September 27, 2004, 06:26 PM
this all makes me think that great gunshows are like great people...

...that they are kinda rare...

meaning we deal with less than desirable people most of our lives, so that when we meet or have the pleasure of knowing one of the good ones- we truly appreciate them for what they are- a rarity in this world...

having said that- the last 2-3 years I have been attending a lot of gun shows. I feel the same frustrations of all the other posts here. However, you just never know what you are going to come across. I have found some really good buys because the dealer had had the gun for so long and no one wanted it and he finally dropped the price cause he was tired of looking at it.
I remember certain dealers that deal mostly in used and collectible guns and they generally have decent prices, and are pretty easy to deal with and trade with.
I think John Taffin once wrote that he perused the classified ads- looking at thousands of guns for sale- his hope was that out of looking at all those guns, he would find a good deal on A gun or perhaps two every year.
Going to gun shows and wading through all the junk, overpriced new stuff, and outright rip-offs has unfortunately become the same.

September 27, 2004, 07:12 PM
I don't have the link, but there was a hilarious thread about gun shows, and 'Da AK wit' da switch' a while back. I had to find this thread. Here is it: Is your gunshow anything like this one? (

September 27, 2004, 07:59 PM
Picked up an Marlin 39a this weekend at a gun show for $130 it was old but in good shape had to fix the eject spring and it needed a good cleaning on the chamber area. Has open sights and shoots good. also picked up a compound bow for $15 dollars. I notice they did not have many sks for sale and they wanted about $200.

September 27, 2004, 08:35 PM
No doubt about it, you yankees need to get down south to some real gunshows! ;)

September 27, 2004, 10:49 PM
The Gun shows around here are decent. They vary from month to month. I got my WASR-10 from the gun show. I use the show to pick up ammo mostly, 500 rounds of 7.62x39 can be had at a pretty reasonable price at these shows. I also use it to pick up all my 30 round mags.

September 28, 2004, 03:46 PM
If you consider it "A Day At The Circus", it's worth the attendance fee. :D

September 28, 2004, 06:07 PM
I agree with the advice that you should know what you're looking for before you go, if you really want to make an educated purchase.

A couple months ago I went to one in Salt Lake City looking for "normal" capacity CZ-83 magazines. I was hoping to purchase one for about $40. There were three vendors selling them. Two vendors were asking $90+ per mag. One vendor was asking $24. I asked how much for two, and next thing I knew I had two mags for $40 total!

Moral of the story: Shop around and know what you're looking for before you go.

September 29, 2004, 11:48 AM
There are Guns SHows and then there are Flea Markets disgusied as Gun Shows.

Sadly too many gun shows loosened their rules in the depression of the later 1980s early 1990s and as aas result they have become Flea Markets.

The secret it to find a REAL gun show. THey do still exist. Once you find and attend one you'll understand. And then you'll want to go again.

Daniel T
September 29, 2004, 12:01 PM

Don't those prices only apply to people with 01 or 03(C&R) FFL's? Someone correct me if I am wrong please. At least that is what I had understood from the sales policy on AIM's web site.

The prices apply to everyone, but they will only ship guns to 01 or 03 FFLs. You'll probably have to pay a transfer fee to the FFL that the gun is shipped too, but AIM and SOG charge you directly, and they charge you the prices shown on the websites and in the catalogs.

September 29, 2004, 09:19 PM
carp killer

Gun shows are a crap shoot. Sorta like going to garage sales, thirty with womens clothes, broken toys and exersize equipment to one with tools and gun stuff.


(Homer......... Ummmmmm tools and guns )

Red Tornado
September 29, 2004, 11:10 PM
in Cape Girardeau. There was some neat stuff to look at but I couldn't find a .22 pistol that I wanted. Several were close, but nothing really 'blew my skirt up' so to speak. (No, I don't really wear skirts.)

However, since I felt I had to buy something, at least a souvenir, I found a really nifty 50lb hand crossbow for $8.

At least I left happy, and it's great fun in the back yard.:D

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