Moment of Weakness.....I went to a gun show


May 14, 2005, 11:30 PM
In a moment of extreme weakness, I attended a gun show in Fort Smith, AR, today.

A couple of years ago, I swore off gunshows.

I got tired of the rip-off prices, and seeing more junky knives, canteens, and beef jerky strips than guns on sale.

Well, today, I went back to my first gun show in a couple of years.

I'm not sure why.

I guess I had a nostalgia attack, or maybe I was still in a haze from sitting through yet another college graduation as a faculty member......Maybe it was like the person who quit smoking years ago, but who walked through a cloud of second-hand smoke on the sidewalk, and just couldn't resist buying one more pack.....just for old times' sake.

It was total waste of six bucks. Six freakin' bucks down the toilet.

The show was small, and full of junky knives, canteens, and beef jerky strips.

The only real buy I saw were Butler Creek 25 round 10/22 mags for $15 each.

But that was only one table.

On another table, I saw the exact same mags for sale for $50 each.

Another guy had a 12 gauge pump shotgun of some sort, looked like a Rem 870, with a $500 price tag on it.

Mosin Nagant M-44 rifles (available from AIM for as low as $59) were marked $175.

One guy had six cases of .223 Wolf ammo for the low, low price of only $179 per 1000 rounds. (Same ammo available from for $117, and that includes shipping!!!!)

So, when adding in the six bucks at the door, you could have stocked up on Wolf 223 for $185 per case of 1000, or more than a case of British Radway Green 5.56 would run you from Aim Surplus.

Everything was junk. Everything was grossly over-priced, especially the entry fee.

All the vendors were sour-faced and haggard-looking. They were overwhelmingly grouchy old men, with a few grouchy old women thrown in.

All of them looked like they were just coming off a week-long Mad Dog 20/20 binge.

Who ever buys anything at a gun show any more?

It was like the awful junky ripoff Hell that time forgot.

I can't believe I was stupid enoug to go in there.

The only real moment of the whole show was when I thought I had found my stolen MAK-90 on a table. And to be honest, that was the only real reason I went in look for my stolen guns.

The serial number matched on the MAK-90, except for the last two digits.

So that MAK-90 was made in the same run as my stolen one, but it just wasn't my rifle.

Oh well.


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May 14, 2005, 11:46 PM
I've been to that show in times past.

It does leave a lot to be desired.

Most shows have deteriorated because the promoters will sell a table to anyone who has the money.

The last show I went to there were dog houses, jewelry, cell phones, candles, incense, paintings, a table completely dedicated to sewing machines, beef jerky, candy, get your picture on a beach towel and more insidious garbage.

Most of the gun related tables were from the same people at every show, with the same guns with the same unreasonable prices. There were a couple of bright spots, but not more than that.

Call the promoter and tell him how you feel. He probably won't care, but if enough people voice the same opinion, maybe he will work a little harder to sell the show to vendors who will actually be of interest to the attendees.


May 15, 2005, 12:03 AM
So how many days did the show run? Up here, gun shows are only run on Sunday mornings from 0800 to 1200, usually every couple of months. Depending on the club sponsoring it. Never more than 50 or so tables. Lots of over priced junk, but every once in a while...

May 15, 2005, 12:09 AM
Sunray, in the states, gun shows are almost always at least two days, and often times three days.

Saturday and Sunday, 9:00 am--5:00 pm is typical.

Some shows even throw in a 5:00pm--9:00pm Friday night session.

I have just about reached the stage where I don't care if gun shows never happen again.

I swore off gunshows two years ago because almost every single vendor in them either didn't know, or pretended to not know about this little thing called the Internet.

You know, the Internet...where I can find out within seconds that a case of Wolf .223 ammo is worth at most $129, most certainly not $175.

But, like an idiot, I went back for another dose today.

It's going to be at least another two years before I go back to another gun show.


May 15, 2005, 12:16 AM
Oh yeah, one more thing about this gun show to cause revulsion and anger.

At the door, the dowdy, unattractive chickie-poo taking the six freakin' bucks it cost to get in asked every single entrant if they had any guns concealed on their bodies.

A man in front of me asked why they were concerned about that, since Arkansas is a shall-issue CCW state. She said, "Our insurance won't allow us to let folks carry inside the show."

So, there you go.....a gunshow that disallowed CCW.

Funny thing was that inside the show, I saw a vendor, a pot-bellied grouchy old white-haired man in a tactical t-shirt, and he had on his hip a stainless steel 1911 with those faux-ivory USMC grips on it.

And the magazine was in the pistol and it was cocked-and-locked.

Sooooo...if you are one of the peasants who shell out six freakin' bucks to get into the show, you can't CCW in there because the promoter's insurance "won't allow" it.

But, if you are one of the sharks who shell out probably fifty freakin' bucks so you can set up your table to prey on the peasants, you can apparently carry your 1911 .45 ACP on your hip inside the show.


May 15, 2005, 12:18 AM
I was quite suprised, and disappointed, when at the last gunshow, the entire thing was guns. And guns priced halfway decently.

Why disappointed? They were all new (well, not new) commercial guns. Out of 600 tables or so, maybe a half dozen C&R's. I missed the tables of milsurp junk and ammo.

chris in va
May 15, 2005, 01:18 AM
We get this HUGE gun show a couple times a year. What a smorgasbord. Good stuff too.

And then there's the little VFW shows... :barf:

May 15, 2005, 06:48 AM
That comment you made about "junky knives, canteens, and beef jerky strips" really got a laugh from me. There must be a law somewhere saying that every gun show in the US must have at least one vendor selling crappy knives and one vendor selling homemade mystery meat sticks.

On a serious note, I go to a lot of area gun shows and buy pretty much all of my military surplus type ammo from them. The reason? No one will ship ammo to my county of residence. All the great deals available online do me as much good as a knock on the head.

May 15, 2005, 08:51 AM
Well, I did pretty good at the last show near me. A couple of buys from fellas walking through the show. A decent project gun off a table and a like new AMD65 kit from a vendor. A couple of cases of SA .308 for less than the shipping and sales tax added to AIM's price- sometimes it sucks to be in Ohio- and they loaded it in my truck for me. The pluses of gun shows have always been the ability to look at the exact item that you are shelling out your money for. No arguing at a distance over 'shipping damage' to an item that arrived in a perfect box. No squinting at a computer screen trying to make out details on a blurry photo. Gunshows aren't perfect; neither is the 'net.

May 15, 2005, 08:56 AM
Six bucks is what I spend to get into the Bill Goodman's gun shows in the Dayton area, but I've never felt like I wasted it.

It is true that I see some 'junk' there. Stuff like candles, t-shirts, home made pillows etc. And I must say I see more of it than a few years ago. There are also vendors with toys, even toy guns and accessories. I actually like seeing that. Have you tried to purchase a toy gun lately? When I was a kid you could get them anywhere! (Ok, that was a long time ago! :D ) You are lucky to find one today. One thing I have noticed though is with all the other items there, it is more family oriented, you see more men there with their wife and kids. That's a good thing, as long as the main theme is still firearms and all the things that go with them.

What I like about it is that there are always a few local dealers there that haul in a lot of new and used guns for sale. Most of the new guns I've purchased in the last few years have been purchased at the Dayton show. There is always a lot of milsurp too, thought they don't meet AIM's prices, if you know what you are looking for you can still find a good deal. There are a couple of Glock armorers there for all the Glock fans (not me, but they stay plenty busy). You can purchase just about anything you need for reloading (and save the UPS charge) and there is usually a large selection of ammo as well. There is one knife dealer that actually sells name brand knives (and lots of them) and has old collectable ones too. He'll beat any price in the SMKW's catalog, or even order for you and you can pick it up at the next show. You also have the option of picking up a used gun from a private seller too, as long as the sale is handled out of the way. You can even buy a gun safe there. Well, you get the idea.

The show is never perfect, the bad vendors I simply stay away from. There's just something about walking around all those guns and ammo that makes for an enjoyable day. My dad (he's 77) and I go just to walk around and look, whether I have any money to spend or not. It's always a good time for us.

May 15, 2005, 09:58 AM
I went to a small local gun show last fall.
There were quite a few interesting guns including a bunch of Winchester side by sides. I saw a couple 28 gauge pumps which have been hard to locate here and a bolt-action Savage .22 pistol that tempted me a lot.
Unfortunately the club always has this show when I'm broke.
I just bought a couple of books.

I missed the spring show due to illness. Looking forward to the one this fall.

larry starling
May 15, 2005, 10:08 AM
I to have found myself turned off by the flea market apperance of gun shows lately! But I finally decided to attend one and found one heck of a great deal! A blue 98 percent colt delta elite! so I maintain hope that there are some bargins to be had at shows! :evil:

May 15, 2005, 11:20 AM
I guess that's the point I see about these gunshow rants. No, the gunshows aren't like they used to be. I remember the Washington Court House shows that I went to as a kid with my Grandpa back in '63-'66. Trapdoor Springfields piled 6-8 deep on the tables- plenty of original parts and pieces for SAA Colts and Winchesters (66 thru 95), etc., etc. Well, I can't pull out of the car dealer with a nice new car for $1200, either. Things change. $6 for a gunshow, even a poor one, still beats most of the movies out there. I almost always learn something new at a show. Maybe that's just because I started out really dumb.

Standing Wolf
May 15, 2005, 12:00 PM
Our insurance won't allow us to let folks carry inside the show.

I think it's a lie.

May 15, 2005, 12:55 PM
In the past year I have found several nice and economical buys at gunshows.

A S&W early model 610.

A S&W .45 model of 1950.

A S&W model 18-2

A S&W model 10

A Colt .38 Special Diamondback.

And at my favorite gunshow in the country,

A Winchester model 69 dual sight.

I think you are going to the wrong "freakin" gun shows. :rolleyes:{90201B22-6945-4AF5-8155-847DECEFB2D4}/picture.JPG

May 15, 2005, 01:07 PM
hillbilly --

IMO, the only show in this area (OK/AR) worth paying money for is the Wanamaker show in Tulsa in April and October. Sure, it has some of the stuff that you noted as irritants but the wide range of guns shown makes up for it. Some of the pricing is even reasonable. I have bought there before and probably will again. Now that my son and his wife live in the Tulsa area, I can even convince the wife to go along to visit while my son and I go to the show.

May 15, 2005, 01:54 PM
Just about all the shows in Houston have the 30.06 CHL Felony sign out front with a couple of cops check guns and putting tie wraps on them.

Some of the smaller shows in Houston suck, but some are okay. The big Houston Gun Collector's show doesn't sell ammo, but they usually have a wide number and variety of guns.

May 15, 2005, 02:12 PM
You just described nearly every gun show that goes on here.

Sometimes they really piss me off that I wasted money.

Guys that STILL want $75+ dollars for hi-cap Glock mags. Not to mention the table full of M16 mags that look l like they ran them through a blasting cabinent before they brought them in, and want $35 apiece for them.

Toy guns, junk knives, etc. All crap. It's so hard to find a dealer that sells stuff for decent prices anymore. It's getting to where I have to buy all of my stuff off the net. I don't like to go into a show (or a store) where the price is 25% over suggested retail and haggle them down to what a normal person would pay at a major retailer. It's a huge turn off for me.

cortez kid
May 15, 2005, 06:52 PM
Gotta agree with you. The first gun show I went to in years and it was totally junk. Then I went to the Harrisburg show. Big difference. Lots of tables, tons of guns of all types. All the revolvers, what I'm interested in, were expensive. They're all expensive everywhere now. The biggest difference was that some of the vendors there, smiled. Some were down-rite polite. Still a bunch of sourpusses, but enough good natured people to actually make the 2 hour drive worth it. Some poor slob actually made a double sale because he was nice!!. Going back to the other show next weekend. Wish me luck.
good shootin

The Rabbi
May 15, 2005, 07:25 PM
I pretty much swore them off not too long ago too. Guys hawking at the door waiting for someone to come in to sell a gun. Then they pounce on him looking to steal it. Junky guns on the tables at top mark up. And all that for a measly 6 bucks. Who needs it?

May 29, 2005, 11:26 PM
Boy you guys need to move to Seattle.
The Washington Arms Collectors ( have 22 shows per year in two nearby cities.

All are 95% guns and related stuff. Your yearly membership ($25) gets you into all of the shows.
Even though I am completely broke, I go to every one. The walking does me good and I get to visit with a lot of friends. I see more good deals at every show than I can shake a stick at. Of course sometimes you have to look a little harder. Anyone who thinks the sticker price is final is a fool. Almost everyone there will negotiate.

Back in my former life, I recall lots of good Gun and Gun & Knife shows all over Kentucky and Indiana.
I was a Kentuckiana Arms Association member for many many years.
They didn't allow ANY non-gun dealers there. Everyone had to have at least of their space devoted to guns, ammo and shooting accessories.

I really feel sorry for all y'all who can't find a decent show.

Perhaps you should get together and start one instead of moaning and groaning.
There's plenty of good dealers out there would would jump at the chance to set up at a good one.
And there's still plenty of people who will attend a good one.
I know that back when I was a dealer I'd go just about anywhere for a good show.

May 30, 2005, 10:48 AM
In my experience, even a bad show is better than no show at all. But then, I've never seen one as bad as the Ft. Smith show Hillbilly describes.

May 30, 2005, 11:38 AM

I have been on both sides of the gunshow table and I agree with a big part of your rant. Most promoters have a problem filling a show to capacity with vendors and patrons, so they let in the "junk" dealers to help cover the costs associated with gunshows. So after a few frustrating trips as a "sour puss vendor" I decided to check into putting a show together myself.

Wow :what: the hassles. I don't mean to give the promoters a pass, cause some of them are just horses rears, but it is a major pain in the butt to put together a show. Insurance was going to be out the roof expensive and that doesn't count paying the local cops to "watch the doors".

As a table sitter, I have been harrassed by buyers about my prices. Yet, as they offer you their guns for sale they want top dollar for the guns as well. Usually, we can come to a mutual arrangement, but since I do it more for fun than $$$$$ I don't have to brow beat someone out of or into a gun. I do mark up my prices high in order to have haggle room and that is part of the fun, IMHO, but if someone really doesn't like to haggle they can look at other tables.

On the other side, as a patron, six bucks to walk in a look for a buyer for one of my pieces or a bargain isn't a bad price to browse and talk and meet others with like minded indivduals.

Some of tem are sour pusses, some are downright mean, some are salt of the Earth. Ya win some, you lose some.

I hope you don't give up on shows completely. Try getting a table for a show and see how the other half the people selling beef jerky and ask them if they shoot. If not intrduce them to our sport. Be a smiling face with reasonable prices and you'll be the star of the show.

May 30, 2005, 02:21 PM
I guess I am in the minority but I LIKE all the other junk at gun shows. That way, I can get my wife to go with me.* She is into woodworking and always looking for ear protection, sharpening tools, and the like. At the last Birmingham show she found a display box for some lacrosse jerseys from our Baltimore days and a little pouch to keep change in; meanwhile I was browsing the gun stuff!

* discliamer - we've only been married two weeks! :D Most of this theory relates to our dating days. In fairness, though, our wedding was 5/14 and we were at the Birmingham show on 5/22!

May 30, 2005, 05:55 PM
Congratulations and Best Wishes to Mr & Mrs Greyhound.

May 30, 2005, 06:20 PM
one vendor selling homemade mystery meat sticks. The technical definition is "Omni-Meat." There's a little bit of everything in there.

I've been to a few shows here in Dallas. They're almost always at market hall. The front 2/3 of the show is usually solid guns, and the back 1/3 is the other stuff. Prices might be a little out of whack. I'm not usually paying attention because I'm usually not the one buying, but I have noticed a few things that I would consider good deals. It is best to do your research before going to a show, and then haggle over price when you get there. At the very least, I enjoy looking at all the guns.

May 30, 2005, 06:23 PM
The gunshows I've been to in Ohio sound like hillbillly's experience. The knife/sword/martial arts weapon people are very amusing. Some of the stuff seems overpriced, but most of the guys behind the table are willing to haggle, even on new items. A new Glock will have a $100 price difference between tables.

I wouldn't buy most of what they're selling, but I'm glad we can still have the shows. $5 is less than a movie (even a matinee), and I enjoy walking around the show for as many hours as I want over the course of the day and see guns I would normally only see in a book or on the Internet. Sometimes I meet people locally and chat, sometimes not.

I haven't been to a show in Arkansas for fifteen years (I was born and raised there) but I don't remember them being much different between then and now. When I lived in Arkansas, I couldn't afford even the used prices anyway. Being poor is part of the state creed, which is one of the reasons I left! ;)


Vitamin G
May 30, 2005, 06:53 PM
That sucks... the gun show around Pittsburgh has always been pretty decent to me. Sure, there's the guy selling knives and swords straight out of the BudK catalog, and the guy selling ammo from the 60's, 70's, and 80's, and trying to get $1/round for black talon, and the guy selling a "PRE-BAN!! AR-15!!" for $1200, but there's also tons of dealers with some pretty good prices...

I picked up a Colt Delta Elite for $495.
I picked up a Argentine Hi-Power for $299.
I got $400 for my glock 26 on a trade-in.

Unfortunately, some guy got shot at the last one...

May 30, 2005, 07:18 PM
They don't have many shows around here.

The ones they do have, I attend because Georgia Arms always has a table there, and sells ammo for the same prices they have listed online. I usually pick up a case of .223. The $6 to walk in is less than the shipping would be on said case, plus I get to look at the other stuff even if I don't often buy it.

I sure wish someone would start bringing cases of Wolf x39, or cases of good x51 surplus, but I've never seen either.

I've never bought a gun at a gun show; anything I'm interested is usually well overpriced.

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