Gunshow etiquette


November 26, 2005, 04:54 PM
I haven't been to a fun show since the late 80s. Back then they were really cool, but lately I've heard that now it's all beanie babies & beef jerky.

I'm going next weekend (Crossroads @ the Fair Grounds if anybody cares) and wanted some input on what to expect. I also have some questions.

I'm planning to take a backpack with a few gun rugs along in case I do actually find something I like. Is this OK or something they frown upon?

I'm hoping to get a deal on some ammo (hello J&G), but I don't know what I'm going to do with my new pallet of buckshot while I continue shopping. Do I take it to the car so it can get stolen while I'm back inside? Is there a dock/loading zone/secured area for big purchases like this where I can pick it up when I leave? Am I going to have to wheel a dolly (or little red wagon :D ) around with me?

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Jason M.
November 26, 2005, 05:01 PM
I always liked the ones in Az. It was a bit of a mixed bag, but I enjoyed them. I'm big into C&Rs, and there are always plenty - I've always found a good deal or two. Not necessarily for something I'm looking for, but the deals are out there. Buddy bought a nice and shiny Norinco RPK clone for 300 bucks, for example. :) "Is this the right price, sir?" *gruff voice* "That's what the sticker says, isn't it?" Hehe, didn't have to argue with the guy. I made sure my friend took the deal.

I'm planning to take a backpack with a few gun rugs along in case I do actually find something I like. Is this OK or something they frown upon?

That will be fine.

I'm hoping to get a deal on some ammo (hello J&G), but I don't know what I'm going to do with my new pallet of buckshot while I continue shopping. Do I take it to the car so it can get stolen while I'm back inside? Is there a dock/loading zone/secured area for big purchases like this where I can pick it up when I leave? Am I going to have to wheel a dolly (or little red wagon ;g ) around with me?

Go as early as possible and buy your ammo right before you leave. That's how I always did it with my buddies, anyway. Or at least how I planned to... I would inevitably end up dragging ammo around looking for "one more thing". :) I don't think they have any kind of loading zone set up, so a dolly might be a good thing. You always see guys with dollies running around, so you won't be out of place.

November 26, 2005, 06:59 PM
When I buy bulk ammo I get there first thing when the show opens and buy it (so they don't sell out of it!)

They hold it for me until I'm ready to leave, then I borrow their dolly to get it outside. If anybody does break into the car when I'm returning the dolly, they most likely won't get too far running away with 28 kilo crates ;)

Standing Wolf
November 26, 2005, 08:12 PM
I drove in to Colorado Springs for a gun show today. I saw a couple guns I might have liked to take home, but the sucker prices were beyond ludicrous.

How about an old, beat up Smith & Wesson model 41 for $100 more than the price of a new one?

November 26, 2005, 08:44 PM
-Not a good idea to allow vanilla ice cream to "plop" onto displayed mdse on tables.
-Not everyone has seen beef jerkey used as a Chamber Flag when handling guns.
-Cotton candy does cause splotches on some finshes, makes synthetic stocks and frames really sticky.

Yes, I have actually seen the above. Did I mention I have not attended a local gun show in ...I do not recall.

I carry a handkerchief anyway. I make sure I have at least this, if not another one, or some type of nice soft cloth. I ask permission, and I make sure the person whom allows to handle - sees me check to make sure gun is unloaded and safe.

Many times I do not leave prints, as I handle only the wood. No matter I at least show I am willing to remove my prints, many times the dealer appreciates this courtesy and respect and will wipe down instead.

Many times I do wipe off the gun...In Tulsa, quite a few dealers really appreciated my attitude, changed the Reporte' more positive...sadly, some other shoppers looked me as if I were nuts.

Mutual Respect and common courtesy. Earned by dealer, and customer.

November 26, 2005, 08:45 PM
I go to 8-10 shows a year. I still find the occasional great deal, and I love shooting, the you know what, with gun guys/gals. If I told you about a few of my pickups in the last few years, some of you would call me a liar. Please stay away from gun shows. We all know YOU will never find a great buy!!!!! :neener:

November 26, 2005, 08:57 PM
If I told you about a few of my pickups in the last few years, some of you would call me a liar.

You talking about guns, or women? :D

November 26, 2005, 09:02 PM
When I approach a booth that looks interesting, I make eye contact with the vendor and ask "how's the show going".

If I want to handle something, I ask permission.

If I want to dryfire, I ask permission.

After I handle a gun, I ask for a rag to wipe my smudges off. Usually they smile and say don't worry about it.

I never comment about too high price. If something is overpriced, they will figure it out in a few more shows. If I am interested in something, I make my best offer and let the games begin. If something I am not interested in is UNDERpriced, I suggest that if the item is not sold by end of shot that they put it on an internet auction and raise the price.

I always ask for a business card and the next show that they will participate in.

I ususally set up a table or two once a year to get rid things I no longer need. After ten or so years, I have learned gunshow ettiquette the hard way.

Jason M.
November 26, 2005, 09:04 PM
I really like some of the suggestions here. I always try to be as courteous as possible, but some of these things I've never even though of - such as wiping off fingerprints. Thanks, everyone!

November 26, 2005, 09:30 PM
When I make a purchase, I ask the vendor if he/she will hold it until I'm ready to leave. I've never been turned down. I hate walking around the show with things in my hand. I've bought a gun, ammo, reloading supplies, and an imported decorative plate at shows.

Yes, I said plate. My wife likes to hang them on the wall so it justifies me going to the show in the first place. I've even bought her fancy hand lotion at one show. By doing that, I reduce the satic when I buy another gun. There is a method to my madness.


Sylvilagus Aquaticus
November 27, 2005, 02:08 AM
I always carry a soft polishing cloth and wipe down a firearm where I've touched it. I prefer not to leave skin oils on finer firearms. I'm not going to mention fingerprints. I pick up business cards from folks I'm interested in doing business with, and sometimes I offer them one of mine. I've made some good if not interesting friends that way. I do not take a cup or food with me when I'm standing at a table looking at goods. I always speak first to the person or persons behind the table and smile. I do not interrupt people when they are speaking to a prospective buyer (or a tire-kicker).
I might not buy anything from someone today, but I might tomorrow. Being on pleasant terms with them usually works out to my advantage.


November 27, 2005, 02:27 AM
Went to a local Show in MN today at a Na. Guard Armory and was very open and there were all types there, mostly white males and some very nice loking woman, some gang banger types (baggy cloths, head bands). You coulda walked in with a Street Sweeper under a leather jacket and the girl taking the $4 wouldnt have noticed or cared.
Was very laid back, everyone was nice, chatty, I got 2 good deals on Guns and took my 7 yr old that had a good time checking out the Pelts, other knick knacks, that vendors bring like coyote teeth, buffalo hooves, etc...


November 27, 2005, 06:59 AM
There is one show in my area that is half gun related and half flea market rejects related. I skip that show, but go to the others. Even if I do not see any great deals I generally see at least one unique item. The best as an M2 Browning machine gun setup on a tripod.

I bring a dolly with me for moving crates of ammo, but leave it in my care trunk until it is needed. I have never had a problem with a dealer holding something “behind the counter” for me until I am done browsing.

That is a great tip about carrying a polishing cloth to spruce a gun back up after handling it. I never thought about it; I will carry one with me from now on.

November 27, 2005, 11:18 AM
You talking about guns, or women? :D Neither. I was obviously talking about my Silverado!:banghead: :)

November 27, 2005, 11:40 AM
Bring a pocket knife or some wire cutters for after the show. When you want to take those blasted plastic ties off and try out your new gun. :p

Dick Dart
November 27, 2005, 12:06 PM
I agree with Jason M on the ammo purchase. Besides, you tend to get the better deal on ammo on the last day of the show. Most people don't want to load all that stuff back in the truck and would rather sell it.

November 27, 2005, 12:23 PM
Gun show ettiquette:

Never ask the dealer to come down on the $350 beat to hell makarov
It was Kruschevs personal side arm dontchaknow!

Don't ask the dealer to unwrap the Mosin Nagants from their wax paper for inspection. They were factory rearsenaled in 1946! How did he record the serial number? Well clairvoyance of course. duh!

Don't bother a person at a table for information regarding what they are selling because you would get more accurate information from a magic 8 ball.

Remember all 1935 russian ammo is non-corrosive because they say so!

Don't ever question the old man in the tobacco stained overalls and no shirt
about the authenticity of the $3000 "original" Colt 1873's with made in italy
stamped on the side.

Always wait patiently for the seller to finish his cell phone conversation and the mouth full of burger before attempting to buy something at his table
don't ever expect his beehive hairdo wife in the lawnchair to get up and take your money.

There are many more of course but this list will get you through the first 5 tables.

Vitamin G
November 27, 2005, 12:29 PM
If you make a joke about trading your glock26 and $100 for the LNIB colt delta elite, you better have $100 handy...

I love that colt! ;0

Spreadfire Arms
November 27, 2005, 02:42 PM
i had a guy spill his coffee on a cardboard Remington box and walk away like it was no big deal.

i also like the guys who pick up a rifle and in the process of doing so, separate my security cord, causing the alarm to go off. then they set it down and walk away but dont even make an attempt to at least acknowledge it was an accident or reconnect the wire. they just walk away.......

ive had two guys do a FTF deal on my tables right on top of my inventory. dude, if im paying $50 a table you guys can go pay $50 for your own table or not use my inventory as a trading bench!

ive had guys steal my Small Arms Review magazine ($5) right off my table, probably thinking they were free. never mind the "SMALL ARMS REVIEW MAGAZINE $5" sign next to it, and each magazine having a $5 price sticker on them.

ive had guys argue with me over how i should just ignore the law and hand-to-hand them a machine gun under the table.

i had one guy ask me not only to beat Academy's price on an AR15 but also to cover the sales tax too. meaning, Academy's price was my price "out the door."

ive had non-FFL's come up to me with a resale certificate requesting tax exempt status, asking me to not collect sales tax since they had a resale certificate. you go to WalMart and show them your resale certificate too, when you have no intent of reselling anything?

i had one guy bring six 10-year-olds to a gun show and let them tear ass through every gun show table, picking up guns and dropping them on the table. then after being told to control the children, he said he could just go to the US Marine Corps armory and show them "the good stuff." suuuuuuuuuure. then go. im sure the USMC will go and pull out all the big guns for the kids to see when you show up. then why did you go to the gun show and pay all that admission charge?

i had a guy look at an M249 SAW and ask me if it was "cash and carry."

i had a guy wanting to sell me an illegally converted machine gun.

that's just the stuff i remember..... :D

November 27, 2005, 02:49 PM
I went to the one in Costa Mesa yesterday, didnt find much...

Basically looking for an Enfield No.4 Mk1, found 2, one heavily pitted w/ beat-up wobbly wood, and one over-my-budget-by-two-fold peice

I did in the end buy 100rds of .303brit, 4 bricks of .22lr, a Yugo Mauser bayonet, a repro Hitler Youth knife (and sharpened by the lady with the sharpening tools), and this really cool plier-flashlight-screwdriver-knife-saw-whatcha-ma-jiggie

November 27, 2005, 03:09 PM
the only ones i don't ask before handling are firearms sitting on top of the factory box at a 12 table booth (complete with huge banner) manned by two guys, one on the phone processing applications, the other trying to sell three glocks and a sig at one time. they really don't care if i pick up a $169 22 rifle (not enough drop at comb, sadly).

anything else, i ask permission. nearly all of them appreciate it.

November 27, 2005, 03:23 PM
I have only been to a few but have a friend who goes faithfully every show here in San Antonio and he has stated many of the things already mentioned here carry alot of weight when you decide its time to buy.

He offers to wipe down anything he handles, he has also instructed me to ask first before touching and that seems to be very appreciated. His good gunshow manners paid off when after a few shows looking at a certain SIG the guy said you really like that gun don't you, and came way down on the price, but my friend never once asked if that ever was his best price. He just always asked to look at is and said, someday maybe it would be nice to have one of these. The guy I think realized he was never going to get the price he was asking for it and here was a guy willing to pay something for it, I guess breaking near even was better than never selling it.

November 27, 2005, 07:25 PM
J&G won't have any problem holding your ammo for you. You're not the first guy that didn't want to hump 3 cases of ammo through 2500 tables. If it's ammo that's the least bit in demand, get it first. They will sell out.

I imagine it's possible that cars in the parking lot have been broken into, but if I were a thief, the last place I'd want to be committing crimes is in a parking lot full of armed people.

Bwana John
November 28, 2005, 12:17 PM
The SAR/Crossroads show is just about one of the best.
I really like using the little girl with the pony cart to haul my ammo purchases back thru the parking lot to the truck.

November 29, 2005, 10:49 PM
On the website, it says:

1 Ticket
2 Great Shows...
3 Big Days!

Is my ticket really good for all 3 days? :what: I was just planning to go on Saturday, but if that's the case, I'll swing by Friday afternoon on my way home from work to catch any early-bird specials. I might even go on again Sunday to see if I can find any sell-it-so-I-don't-have-to-pack-it-up deals.

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