Gun Shows


January 5, 2006, 12:45 PM
I am about to go to my first gun show as a gun owner. What can I look foward to at a gun show that a normal gun shop can't offer?

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January 5, 2006, 12:49 PM
Beanie babies, jerky, wizard figurines, nazi paraphenelia, goofy Klingon style knives, and ak's with 'da switch.:D

January 5, 2006, 12:51 PM
Around these parts you can look forward to higher prices, rude dealers, jewelry and jerky. Oh, and if you go back next year, most of the guns will still be there. :scrutiny:

I hit about 3 gun shows a year to stock up on ammunition and that's about it.

January 5, 2006, 01:13 PM
Yes, lots of the above stuff. Also:

1. Some dealers with good ammo prices, usually for surplus or Wolf. I stay away from the dealers that have loaded their own.:uhoh:
2. I often find lots of knife dealers, and like the opportunity to get my hands on knives that I can't find in the regular shops.
3. Oddball stuff -- parts that you might have a hard time finding otherwise, usually for mil-surps -- things like Mauser capture screws, or cleaning rods, slings, etc.
4. Sometimes good prices on guns, but don't count on it.

January 5, 2006, 01:49 PM
A heavy police presence :D

Seriously, the best deals I see at gun shows are usually on things other than guns. Like TheEgg said, bulk ammo and odds and ends. The prices usually aren't any better than you can get online, but you don't have to pay shipping or wait for the goods.

Smokey Joe
January 5, 2006, 01:51 PM
Isaman200--All of the above. IMX, some of the best deals are to be had with individuals walking the aisles with a firearm they want to sell. This practice is welcomed @ every gun show I know about.

Go with a pocket full of cash, but don't plan on necessarily spending it. (Cash is welcome everywhere! Dealers usually do checks and plastic, too, but deals with individuals are almost always cash.) Have a list of what reloading-and other-supplies you need, but don't just shop for the list. Keep an open mind.

Dealers have SOME deals. They also have overhead to cover. They also have to pack and unpack 3 tons of inventory (guns and ammo are both heavy!) and drive 200 miles in the sleet to and from the show. You can't begrudge their trying to make a profit. If it weren't profitable, there wouldn't be gun shows.

I look on going to a gun show as a form of entertainment. There are lots of guns to look at that I'd never see otherwise, there are dealers I've seen often enough that we greet each other at a show, there are OCCASIONAL deals to be had, and there are gun parts/gun books/cleaning supplies/reloading supplies/surplus stuff/knives/etc, etc, etc. to be looked at. If I can go with one of my fellow shooters, so much the better.

I pass by the Indian crafts tables and the sellers of nazi gear, swords, and Klingon knives. For those that like that stuff, they're fine. They help the organizer of the gun show make a profit, and again, if organizing gun shows weren't profitable, there would be no gun shows.

Even the worst gun show beats an evening of lousy TV, to say nothing of a lousy movie. At $5/head admission, it's good entertainment.

January 5, 2006, 02:09 PM
I attend one of the Eastman gun shows in Atlanta 2 or 3 times a year. Think of it as a "gun store mall". Most of the tables are for licensed vendors but you have quite a few under one roof and you can see a very large inventory in an afternoon. Of course there are the "non gun" sellers, browse or ignore as you wish.
My strategy is to go in with however much cash I might want to spend and first seek out the private sellers, those with a few guns to sell or an estate to liquidate. I usually have an idea of what I want or at least a list of things that might be interesting. It seems the best time to be looking for private sellers is a show in December, near Christmas. People often want to unload (no pun intended) a few things for some extra Christmas cash ... and you can help them.
Be aware of the "normal/averagel" prices for what you are interested it and you can find pretty good deals. But, be prepared to walk away.
In the last three years I've bought a Marlin 1894 in .357, a Marlin 336 in 30-30, and this last year a fine M1 Garand. All at a December show, all from private sellers.

January 5, 2006, 05:22 PM
I bought my first pistol, a Walther P22, at a gun show. I never would have seen it otherwise, and I love it. I had no idea if the price I was getting was good, but I found out it was about the same as anywhere else, maybe a little cheaper. I like gun shows because I can see and hold a bunch of guns, so I know what to look for and price online, etc. No sense price shopping for a gun that is too big for my small hands. I am fortunate that we have a pretty large gun show once a month here in Austin.

January 5, 2006, 05:31 PM
2-4 hours of laughing at various dealers offering "deals" at 10%-20% higher than normal prices.
1 hour laughing at uinteligent "gangstas" trying to do straw purchases.(before someone flames me this is no way shape or form race related so dont bring it up)
1 hour of some damn fine jerky 1/2 hour of I cant believe I just ate that.
6 hours of me being laughed at:scrutiny:
15 min of good conversation with someone you just met

January 5, 2006, 05:41 PM
Around here there are pretty good deals on used guns and mil-surps. You might pay a little more money for an ak, but if you buy one online for $20.00 less and then have to pay for shipping and a dealer transfer and you've negated your savings. I usually stock up on mil-surps(none of my dealers carry mil-surps at have decent prices),ammo, and odds and ends. I've also bought from guys in the aisles for good prices(a Springfield .45 G.I., in great condition for $180.00).

January 5, 2006, 08:35 PM
I avoid the jerky, enjoy chatting with some really nice folk, (both dealers and those just walking around), have a cup of bad coffee.
It's nice to be able to handle lots of guns if you're looking for something that fits your hands, and you might find that special something.
Great entertainment for a couple hours, and I've found some nice deals.

January 5, 2006, 09:09 PM
I have yet to be disappointed with spending the time to go to a gun show. (or the entry fee)

I have often came out with nothing purchased, but I always enjoy looking and talking, and most always find a little something to buy. It's cheap intertainment if nothing else and better for you than sitting on the couch watching Opra .

January 5, 2006, 09:10 PM
I bought my first pistol, a Walther P22, at a gun show. I never would have seen it otherwise, and I love it. ... I like gun shows because I can see and hold a bunch of guns, so I know what to look for and price online, etc.

This was my same exact experience! Love my P22! And, love the Nations Gun Show in Chantilly, VA! :)

January 5, 2006, 10:45 PM
Your bio says "Buffalo"; if that means New York, then I assume you can't buy a gun at the show and carry it out that day. My brother who lives in the Corning area tells me that, if memory serves, you have to have a gun registered before you can take possession. If all that is true, then I don't know how you get deals at a show, at least on guns.

You are a gun owner so you already know the hoops necessary to jump through. Hopefully someone from NY will fill you in on any gun show requirements.

I like going to shows to easily comparison shop, fondle something that I have just read about, or find accessaries and ammo. If private sales are not permitted, then it limits your potential for good deals.

Talk to the show organizers to find out what kind of vendors will be there and how many tables will be filled. I always try to see the whole show before I commit to buy anything, unless from experience I know for sure that something is a real deal. Have fun. poppy

January 5, 2006, 10:56 PM
I love gun shows! I am excited the whole week leading up to the show. Sometimes I see one or two great gun deals and have the money to buy. Some shows have terrible prices and I still buy. Either way, being surrounded by guns and gun people is always worth the trip and admission/parking.
Have a great time at your first show. Hopefully you will have many more to come.

January 5, 2006, 11:16 PM
I don't know if there's such a thing as a bad gun show. How big will it be? A large one can almost become tiring. Here in western Washington we have the advantage of Puyallup (home of the WW State Fair) and its Washington Arms Collectors show: every month 2-3 indoor acres of guns (with the occasional zombie knife, jerky, clothing, bags, jewelry, gold panning, overpriced hot dogs, bad coffee, and almost decent lattes and cappuccino (I did say western Washington)). Here, with patience, you can get really good deals several times a year.

January 5, 2006, 11:59 PM
Go with a open mind
and if not looking for any one thing just check out the deals that people walk around with , just never know what you may find

January 6, 2006, 12:53 AM
I go for the ammo at least to the smaller ones. Always a couple tables. The shows in Pasadena always have 2 or 3 tables selling new pistols at descent prices. I have bought most of my guns at the shows here. There are also quite a few tables with lots of milsurps of various kinds. Sometimes they are good prices, many times not. You have to know what you are looking at on that stuff.

It is always a nice diversion and fun to walk around and see stuff. I don't like jerky though. I would also second the notion to avoid the guys selling ammo reloads. Might work in some guns, but not others.

I know some guys who go to one or two shows a year and pretty much spend all their time trolling the ticket line as it opens asking about guns people are selling. Sometimes you can find deals, sometimes you can't. Can't hurt to ask though. Some don't know what a gun is worth.

January 6, 2006, 05:13 AM
I have went to gun shows around my area for the better part of 6 years now. Like some of you mentioned, any gun show is better than watching tv all day. Alot of my purchases at gun shows are from people roaming the aisles. Its just so much fun because you really never know what you are going to find. Alot of times I try to go with no real expectation of what I want, and if I find a good deal on a gun or something I always wanted, then I'll buy it. But I think a gun show is the most fun because it a day spent with some friends or family member looking at some really cool and different items that you may never get to see again.

January 6, 2006, 02:38 PM
Lately we've been going for AR items as we're building some kick-arse ARs.

But I always like to go to hear the complete lies that come from people's mouths--dealers and visitors alike.

I like looking at the military stuff, the class 3 that I'll probably never have, Sunset's way overpriced stock, and the really really old firearms and wonder what history they have to share.

Usually don't find great prices there, at least not on the long guns. A few of the dealers that offer handguns have some decent prices.

And always ammo. But you have to go early for ammo. There isn't much left by Saturday afternoon and forget it if you do on Sunday. For the common stuff anyway.

January 6, 2006, 03:07 PM
Ive only been going to gun shows as a potential buyer for about 5 years as Im 26 but alot of older guys like my Dads age tell me that gun shows are nothing like they used to be and not in the sense of background checks. Now its basiclly a gun store show. Its hard to find deals these days at gun shows. Gotta love CDNN though!:)

January 6, 2006, 03:16 PM
First gun show. I remember my first.... used to see all these people walking around in camo and wonder what the heck was going on. That was before I became enlightened. Attend a small show first so you can appreciate a larger show.

In my neck of the woods, the largest show is in Louisville KY (National Gun Day; believe the next one is in Feb). That is a couple 1000-table show with dealers from all over the country. Local shows are in the 200-300 table range. They are fun , but I don't spend the entire day there usually.

Big shows or little shows tend to be the same except the big shows just have more of everything. If you are into collector stuff, the bigger shows are the way to go. What's big? 500-1000+ tables. Little shows are generally in the 200-300 table size and are by far the most common. I wouldn't travel more than an hour or two to a small show.

You will see lots of flea market junk, ammunition dealers, dealers selling gun parts, knife dealers, custom knife makers, new gun dealers, collector gun dealers, and folks that just buy a table and sell their stuff. They are both a lot of fun and educational.

If the show is out of state, I would hook up with a FFL dealer prior to the show and hopefully get a signed copy of his license for gun shipping purposes. Always good to be able to complete the deal while you're there.

Take cash. Take a wish list and a price range for whatever you are looking for. Prices can be about the same as local gun shops or really good. You run into all kinds of pricing. Best things that you find at gun shows are used guns and collector stuff that may not be commonly available around where you live. It is American free enterprise at its best! Enjoy!

January 6, 2006, 03:31 PM
Beanie babies, jerky, wizard figurines, nazi paraphenelia, goofy Klingon style knives, and ak's with 'da switch.:D

Haha! The worst part is he's right. You will also find...

1. Rediculously priced firearms.
2. Idiots in BDU's and stocking caps smoking Liggets.
3. A lot of people fingering things they have no intent to buy or want.
4. Swords with blades shaped like lightning bolts.
5. Indian jewelery.
6. Vendors too busy talking to eachother to help you.
7. Lots of gun "experts" who jump in and tell you why you don't want that.
8. Knives won in the quarter machines at your local carnival.
9. Fine smoked meats.

In reality, a lot of gun shows are disappointments, but then again some of them are great. You may not find what you are looking for, but you may get some great deals on holsters, ammo, etc. Adam's tip for gun shows is to look for the guys walking in the door with guns to sell. Ask them what they are looking to get for it, offer them a little less and they will more than likely take it. Vendors don't give them crap for their guns.

I was at a gun show once and a guy walked in with a MINT .223 M77 with a big scope, bipod, and a nice sling. I heard him tell his buddy he wanted to get 500 out of it. Seemed about right for what it was. I didn't have that kind of money to spend that day, so I just let it go. A while later I heard someone over my shoulder say "I'll give you 3 for it." I turned around just as that guy was handing the vendor that rifle in return for 300 bucks. I woulda gave him 350 for it! Live and learn.

January 6, 2006, 03:41 PM
Your bio says "Buffalo"; if that means New York, then I assume you can't buy a gun at the show and carry it out that day.

Not so. You fill out the Federal form that states you are prohibited from owning a firearm, the dealer calls in the Instant Background Check info on you, you pay the dealer and walk out with the gun. Handgun purchases are a little more involved as you have to have pistol permit purchase stub, but are doable as well. If you buy from someone else attending the show (non-dealer) who has a personal gun for sale, you must pay a dealer at the show to run the Instant Background Check on you. That's about it.


January 6, 2006, 03:50 PM
A good place to pick up and handle various guns to see if they fit your hand, but...

...also a lot of dealers who won't come down at all on prices that're $100-$300 more than what you can find the same gun for online, even if you show them the LIVE competitive price via a pocketPC...which I do. Won't budge. So they take a lot home, I guess.

Samuel Colt equalized human beings, perhaps, in the famous line, but online auctions equalized the gun market and laid a good smackdown on regionally inflated prices. Some dealers just haven't realized it yet.

M2 Carbine
January 6, 2006, 04:35 PM
Good prices on bullets, primers, powder, ammo and sometimes good buys on guns and accessories.

At the last show I spent a half hour trying to talk a guy out of selling me his M1 Carbine because he was selling it too low.
Then after I bought it he pulled out a Carbine bayonet and 2 30 round magazines and handed them to me.

The gun shows aren't what they were 20 years ago, but what is.

January 8, 2006, 12:07 AM
Well my first gun show i guess was a success. I purchased 1000rds of Golden Tiger 7.62 X 39 FMJBT for $125. Anybody know if i got a good deal?

January 8, 2006, 01:29 AM
Gun shows are tuff, it seens the Guns that i want are the Guns that they dont have, and if you do find one its not in good condition, or to much money GO figure.

January 8, 2006, 01:55 AM
Well my first gun show i guess was a success. I purchased 1000rds of Golden Tiger 7.62 X 39 FMJBT for $125. Anybody know if i got a good deal?

Thats about normal pricing! The cool thing is you actually found some! There was a major shortage of that caliber in the last 4 or so months! Maybe thats a sign of everthing going back to normal or that person had a stash left!

Ala Dan
January 8, 2006, 11:35 AM
as a gunshow in Birmingham, AL is currently on going (Jan 7th & 8th-2006).
Had a customer come into our shop yesterday (the 7th) and said he had
been to the gun show, and it was a "waste". He explained that it wasn't
what he expected, "just a few old men with high dollar guns, sitting 'round
eating crackers"~!:uhoh: :D

January 8, 2006, 12:39 PM
I only go to gunshows 2 or 3 times a year here in Oklahoma City. The only thing I've ever bought at one was some jewelry my wife eyeballed and just had to have and a pewter dragon for my eldest daughter who is an RPG'r.

All in all depending on the size of the show visiting one is a fun way to kill a half to a full day.

I like watching the people and you get all kinds.
I like eyeballing the wares and checking the prices against what I know the same thing sells for in the various gun stores in OKC.
I like the knife displays.
And sometimes there's even stuff I've never seen before.

I like hassling the NAZI's - not the guys selling memorabilia but the NAZI dealers hawking their anti-USA BS conspiracy crap, bomb making manuals etc.

At some point I take an active role just for kicks. :evil:

Invariably there's a table or two that's selling SKS' and Mosins for $300+. After eyeballing them and inquiring as to why they are priced so high considering their condition and annoying the dealer I go to work. I wait for someone to come by who handles the wares and looks genuinely interested. It's easy to pick out the knowledgeable from the new guys. If a new guy is seriously considering a purchase I'll sidle up to him and ask if he's thinking about buying the rifle. If he says yes I'll tell him - loud enough for the dealer to hear - that he can buy the same gun in as good or better condition at <name two gun shops> for about half of what this guy wants. I love it when they thank me for the information and walk away. I love it even more when the dealer tries to get in my face and make me leave. I don't - leave that is. Some try threats, some whine and cry, even had one offer me $20 to go away once (I took it). :neener:

Why do I spend a half to a full hour doing that. I hate those guys ripping off the public. Besides it's a real hoot for a guy like me that thrives on confrontation. :D Gotta use your free time somehow - might as well enjoy it.

January 8, 2006, 01:55 PM
Buffalo - one of my old home towns close to my heart. Went to UB and married a local gal. Never went to a gun show there, however.

A serious answer: In TX, what I find at the gun show are standard model new guns at prices significantly lower than MSRP and most of the gun stores.

Thus, if I wanted a Glock, SW, Ruger, etc. I would check the MSRP and scout out a well know and stocked local store. That would give me a price break.

On ammo, the discount sports stores here are the same or better.

Used guns - it depends. Caveat Emptor. I've bought some from a dealer I know but it can be a crap shoot.

Eat Beef on Weck for me!

January 8, 2006, 01:57 PM
I also hang out in the parking lot.
You can do some awesome deals there.


January 8, 2006, 02:16 PM
Definitely good values on ammunition. Shipping is what kills the price. I paid less than 5 cents per round on Greek 8mm and less than 8 cents per round on 7.62x54 yesterday. $8 per 20 rounds for Wolf K31 ammo. Can't order anything that cheap.
Also, occasionally find a rare firearm cheap.
If you know your vendors, you can occasionally get good advice.
For me, the $6 entrance fee is worth it.

M2 Carbine
January 8, 2006, 03:10 PM
Yesterday at the gun show I got a Kel Tec PLR-16 for $430.
A nice used Redding reloading press for $20.
Two new GI AR 15 twenty round mags for $10.
1,000 rounds of Brown Bear .380 for $110.
And some other stuff.

And best of all I met and got a signed autographed book from James Megellas, the 82nd Airborne's most decorated officer in WWII.:)
"All The Way To Berlin"

I also was very proud to meet and listened to a wheel chair bound Vietnam vet that had been a "guest" of the Hanoi Hilton.

Two very humbling experiences.

January 8, 2006, 04:14 PM
Is there any National Gun shows? If so, where and when?

January 8, 2006, 11:51 PM
Im surprised nobody mentioned "the gunshow hotdog"...or gutbusters as they were called at a time.they could make a better profit off these and give a packet of tums to go with each purchase.The jerky really wasnt that bad,I spent more on that than the admission price.

A bunch of us crammed into my honda and headed up to a big show up north,after a few hours of entertainment,we got hungry and ate at the small break area.needless to say,the drive home was miserable-we got some odd looks driving down the interstate with the windows down in 32 degree weather.nobody bought anything but what the heck,better than going to a craft show with a bunch of hens and pretending to be having a great time.

yup,fantasy daggers,windchimes,watches,velvet elvis pictures,gi joe toys,kids toys,flea bitten old military clothing,reading for the entire family,free glasses cleaning,little glass thingamajigs that hang on your widows..and other "stuff" that they just cant sell anywhere else,cause nobody wants it:D

January 10, 2006, 09:34 PM
well i can speak for westchester county thats 20 mins from manhattan the laws here are disgusting ccw is a bad work unless you hit lotto and you can prove there are threats on your life. After 5 guns the county police have to see your safe and house and all entrances. when you buy a gun you have to leave it with the dealer until you fill out a amendment form and it gets signed by the judge that can take from a week to 12 weeks min the only licence you can get is a target licence all guns have to have trigger locks in the safe all ammo has to be in a differnt place and i know the clinton ban was lifted and the same day pataki signed the same ban for new york NEW YOK LAWS S--- thats all i can say

January 13, 2006, 06:21 PM
Anybody ever see any quality parts for SAR ak's at shows?

January 13, 2006, 06:34 PM
Last year at the Harrisburg PA gun show I met Gen. Tibbets... the pilot of 'Enola Gay'... first man ever to drop a nuke in combat. Very nice guy.

Most gunshows are AR related.
Then SKS.
Then K98s.
Then crap.

Go for the small parts that you hold off buying cause shipping is $5 for a $1 part. I get a lot of 1911 parts, mags etc. I rarely buy a weapon because thier prices are really, really, crappy and they generally don't haggle.

Ex an M4 may be say $600 on the net, yet dealers will not budge less than $750. I even took in a printout to try and bolster my position.. no sale. Ended up building an XM16E1 on a Stag lower for $500.

Garand prices are CRAZY.

I picked up 8lbs of H4895 for $112, not that great but saved shipping ($20+$20 hazmat).

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