I'll be attending my first gun show hopefully next month, so I have some questions for all you "old-timers" here ;-).
1. What is some proper etiquette I should know and remember when I go to a gun show
2. What sort of ID do I need to have if people ask for it?
And, of course, anything else you guys think I should know, even if it doesn't pertain to the two above questions, will be very appreciated.
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Heavy Metal Hero
November 11, 2006, 03:14 PM
I am not really an "old timer" but I have been to my share of gunshows. I know that a lot of the tables at the Suncoast Gun Shows in Tampa are rude if they don't think you are there to buy.
My advice is that I would only ask a question if you need something answered. They are there to run a business and unfortunately customer service is not a strong point.
On the other hand, there will be many people who are happy to tell you what you want to hear, and they may even start up a conversation with you if they think it will net them some dough.
I don't mean to be jaded, but when I go to gun shows the only "people" I want to talk to are SIG, CZ, S&W, and the others.
Don't bite on impulse buys either. If you are looking for a gun find one you like BEFORE hand and do some research on it (Model, Price, etc.).
Good luck and have fun!
November 11, 2006, 03:15 PM
Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. There are a lot of gunshow commandos that like to spout off incorrect info. There are also some very smart people but they aren't as prevalent.
1. Ask the seller before picking up or handling his firearms. Remember the 4 rules and practice them. It seems like every time I go to a show I get swept with the muzzle at least a dozen times, sometimes a gun pointed right at me, finger on the trigger. Yeah they are probably unloaded but there have been times that's not the case and I still don't like it, nobody does.
2. A driver's license should be fine, or a CCW permit if you have one. You'll need your DL if you are going to puchase a gun, and IIRC some states allow you to skip the background check if you have a CCW permit.
Heavy Metal Hero
November 11, 2006, 03:16 PM
Some states even let you walk out with the gun that day if you have a CCW.
November 11, 2006, 03:25 PM
Bring cash. Cash, not credit cards. Most dealers at gun shows won't/can't handle a credit card exchange. Also, cash is needed if you see someone walking around with a gun you want (private individual).
I can often talk a dealer down $10-$20 just by saying "I'll be paying in cash".
November 11, 2006, 03:28 PM
Don't buy the first thing you see.
November 11, 2006, 03:45 PM
+1 on remembering the four rules.
Also, most gun shows I've been to disallow CCW, so pay attention for that. Course, thats not really an issue in Missouri, is it?
November 11, 2006, 04:23 PM
If you are going with the intention of purchasing a particular firearm, scope, etc, have a price range in mind ahead of time. You will see differences of hundreds of dollars from table to table for the same gun. One guy may be selling a used Glock for $550 while the same gun can be purchsed new at a couple of tables over for $485. Look around and have fun, if a dealer is rude, move on.
November 12, 2006, 12:17 AM
Some people are there to sell.
Some people are there to buy.
Some people are there to trade.
Some people (most?) are there to look.
Know which category you are and who you're going to be interacting with.
Have cash (as stated before)
Know what you want (if you're there to buy)
Walk the aisles once looking at tables that interest you. Note items of interest, dealer, price, condition. Compare with others similar if time allows. Go back for specific items once you've seen it all (caveat... some things are worth buying RIGHT NOW! if the price is right)
I always ask permission to touch/pick up. I avoid leaving fingerprints on metal.
I always ask (if I'm there to buy) "How much you gotta have?" as I fumble with some cash (like I'm counting how much I have in that pocket... I never put all my cash in one pocket...)
I'm always ready to walk away, politely.
As others have stated... 4 rules of safety.
Have as much fun as possible. The people, the toys, the atmosphere... it's all (usually) good.
November 12, 2006, 12:30 AM
Wear comfortable shoes.
November 12, 2006, 12:33 AM
get some beef jerky!!:p
November 12, 2006, 12:43 AM
Ive noticed some bolt actions have zip ties holding the bolts shut. I dont touch those. All others, check the chamber and follow the 4 rules.
November 12, 2006, 12:48 AM
1. Bring enough basket to carry at least four pounds of beef jerky.
2. They do sell swords but I don't often see scabbards, so you might want to bring one of those.
3. Don't be fooled by those SKS/AK accessories that look like cheap plastic. They really are extremely tactical and worth twice what the guy at the table is asking.
Seriously, though, cash cash cash. If you have something in mind that you want ahead of time, try to find market value on it before hand so you know what's fair. A little politeness and courtesy goes a long way, but don't think you have to sit there and humor the guy behind the table trying to offer too little money for your gun.
November 12, 2006, 12:53 AM
Here is a handy Field Guide to Gunshows , it should have all the info you need
Above all have fun while there .
chris in va
November 12, 2006, 01:03 AM
It could just be a VA thing, but the last large gunshow I went to required two forms of ID with a CURRENT ADDRESS on both to purchase a firearm. My friend from MD wanted an AK but he only had his drivers license and they wouldn't take it.
Yes, bring cash. Their ATM's run out of money quick.
Impulse buys are actually pretty fun. I had never seen a HiPoint carbine before, and I just bought one because it looked cool. Turns out to be one of my favorites. But yes...many of the 'deals' are actually not at all.
Bring a friend. Poking around by yourself sucks.
Sometimes you can find really good deals on ammo.
Buy something for the missus. Usually there's a table or two manned by little old ladies selling cute beaded things. Revolver earrings don't count unless she's into that.
November 12, 2006, 01:10 AM
I've been to a few now, and I've found that there are good prices on . . . everything but guns.
Yes, there are exceptions. I found a Kel-tec SU-16 for $465, whereas it would cost me $490 at my local shop. Given that the shop backs things up with their own service and go to bat with the vendors for the customer, handle the shipping and stuff, I was willing to spend the extra bux to order it through them.
Magazines are typically substantially better priced than in stores. Ammo prices are usually quite good. I've seen some good -- even great -- prices on knives (careful though, some guys will sell stuff you can't legally carry). Holsters, carrying cases, lock boxes . . . all good.
I always find more stuff to buy than the money I brought.
But the guns themselves? I bought an M1 Carbine locally. Decent shape. Works. All original. Price was okay. Ran into a guy at the show selling one that seemed to be in decent shape, but had been modified, no longer all original. He was asking $300 more than I paid locally.
Know your prices before you go.
In Nevada, it's okay for a private party to purchase from a private party, and such transfers are not subject to the NCIS check. However, anyone selling to another private party at a show usually takes care to get all the driver's license info and records the sale -- can't be too careful -- if he sells to a private party and something bad happens, he needs documentation to show that there really was a transaction.
One thing that often has a good price is a bare AR15 lower receiver. These can be found for $200 and under (friend of mine picked one up, Stag Arms, for $198, another company locally makes one for about $210).
As the other guys have said, do your homework before you go.
If I run into anything unexpected while I'm there on Day One, I'll go home and research it and return on Day Two to transact if that's appropriate.
All of that having been said, remember to have fun.
November 12, 2006, 01:31 AM
Bring your DL and if you have to have a license to buy in your state, bring it too. I would also agree with the previous posters' urging to bring cash. There has been several occasions where I missed good deals because the dealer didn't take cards. And the limit on ATM withdrawls is usually 200$ or 300$ per day, so it can leave you short. And as for good deals, there are a few, but I go on the "if its meant to be" principle. If you see something you want, keep it in mind and keep looking. If its still there and you still want it when you make a full round of the show and get back to the table, then get it.
Know what you want before you go. There are always going to be impulse buys, but if you have an idea of what you want before you go, you are always better off.
As for behavior, I have two suggestions. First, do not dress like a damn militant. Fatigues are for a hunting trip or combat zone, not a gun show. If you do dress like that, be aware that PEOPLE ARE LAUGHING AT YOU!!! Second, if you want to look at something, even if its not cabled to the table, ask. They will usually say sure, but its my opinion that they like to be asked. It shows you respect their position as a seller and that may make them more willing to negotiate on the price.
Good luck and have a good time.
ADDED: Go on day one if you can, you'll find better deals. Also go on the last day and some buyers will be more likely to haggle to get rid of some things.
November 12, 2006, 01:35 AM
One thing I forgot to mention; it's just a courtesy to the dealers I do, after I look at one of their firearms, I always replace the price tag right side up.
November 12, 2006, 01:43 AM
1. Bring Cash
2. know what you want to buy and know what the going price is
3. Check EVERY gun on EVERY table before you buy something, only way to stumble across the real good deals
4. Buying from a private seller is easier, no back ground check, no sales tax, and you can haggle more (at least in Texas)
5. Don't pay any attention to the weekend warriors that think they know more about guns than anyone else on the planet
6. Don't get upset if some of the sellers are rude
7. Always ask permission before handling a gun
8. Know how to inspect guns, if you look like you know what you are doing, you are likely to get a better deal
Thats all I can think of right now..
November 12, 2006, 03:03 AM
It could just be a VA thing, but the last large gunshow I went to required two forms of ID with a CURRENT ADDRESS on both to purchase a firearm.
Oh I forgot, if you go to a gunshow in Richmond, VA and buy a gun, be polite to the ATF agents when they prone you out in the parking lot. :neener: lol sorry, couldn't resist.
November 12, 2006, 11:51 AM
Let your family and neighbors know to be polite to them as well when they show up on doorsteps wanting to know if you really live in the area. :fire:
November 12, 2006, 12:06 PM
Have a mental list in your head of what you really want to look at most and/or buy. Also on that mental list have all the research in your head of what the usual going rates are for what you want. DO YOUR RESEARCH beforehand.
The only times I've been "taken" at the funshow is when I impulse buy and didn't know the real value/going rates.
I have also found that by keeping my mouth shut and just listening, I learn a lot more about who knows their stuff and who doesn't. If I talk to a dealer that obviously does not know his own product, then I don't buy, because usually these types of dealers over-charge to be "on the safe side".
Also, bring a big dolly and/or some inlaws to carry your ammo purchases. :D
November 12, 2006, 08:16 PM
DO NOT EAT food from the concession stand. Trust me.
November 12, 2006, 11:35 PM
geezer, you're not talking about the food at the Concord show, are you? :barf:
November 25, 2006, 12:18 AM
^^^ What happened?? :D
November 25, 2006, 01:43 AM
Gun Shows.... eat before you go. There is usually food sold there if you want to eat something or get something to drink.
Ask permission to handle a firearm
Don't remove zip ties. If you are really interested in a specific gun, the dealer may remove it for you. Tiny wire cutter pliers works well for this vs knife.
If a potential customer is looking at a gun, that customer has first dibbs until he walks away. Don't butt in on someone else's negotiation. It's business and not welcomed.
As mentioned, if you have a specific firearm in mind that you want to purchase, try to research prices prior to attending show. Be aware that many firearms are more expensive than what is listed on the current Blue Book. (I keep a Blue Book in the car, for reference.)
If you see something you want, and it is at a fair price to you, buy it immediately. So often you will look at something, walk away and realize that the price is very good. Gun is gone when you get back. Sometimes you forget which table it was at too, especially if it is a big show.
Take cash in $20's and $50's. $50's sometimes makes dealers nervous though. $100's do especially although it depends on the price of the gun. If it is a $2000 gun, pretty stupid to whip out 100 20's.
Anwyay, there are often good prices. There are also dealers that think whatever they have is gold. So you have to have some reference points on price to sift thorugh things and evaluate.
Price negotiation is okay. But don't unless you are serious about buying. Sometimes if they know you, they'll simply volunteer their best price.
People say that Sundays give best prices. But the pickins are frequently slim. Just depends on what you are looking for. The key is to be able to make a decision and don't look back. I prefer to be there when the doors open on Saturday morning.
November 25, 2006, 10:21 AM
Lots of good advice here. I'll re-stress proper gun handling here as well, I've been swept so many damn times at a gun show it just makes me sick! Look, if you want to sight down a gun then point it at the damned ceiling or over people's heads.
Walked around a corner at the last show I attended just in time to have a 20-something pick up a shotgun, point it STRAIGHT at me, and pull the trigger (I could hear the CLICK of the hammer). :what:
On the plus side the guy selling the gun leans over, takes the gun and tells the idiot "Woah man, that was SERIOUSLY uncool, I think you need to shop at somebody else's table".
November 25, 2006, 10:32 AM
Know how much money you want to spend before you go.
I got a guys to drop his price by a large margin on a little .22 revolver that I love by saying, "Look, I know $XX is far less than you are asking, but it is all I have to spend. Will you take it?" He did, and I have a great little plinker. I was courteous, and did not imply that his gun was worth less than he was asking.
November 25, 2006, 10:56 AM
Well here in Myrtle Beach, at least 1/3 of the floorspace is devoted to airsoft, which is kind of frustrating.
Good deals on anything but firearms. (I don't consider $25-$30 less than what I can buy locally a good deal)
Don't buy anything tactical (like those cheap drop leg holsters... I speak from experience).
Pick up a cheap SKS... I try to get one every time I go to a show.
November 25, 2006, 11:08 AM
Know how much you spend on ammo per round. Last time I went I ended up paying .02 cents per round more! :what: :what: :rolleyes:
November 25, 2006, 11:29 AM
Rule #1: There will always be at least a few of these. Bring your skepticism with you.
Outside of remembering the four rules, I would say the best advice one could give was the person who said do your homework. Know exactly what you're looking for, what the going rate is, and maybe some of the offers other people have made at shows to get the item. I went to a show looking for a CZ 40, and one of the vendors was asking some outrageous price for it ($400 if I remember correctly). And, of course, once you tell him the smaller vendor 30 feet from you has it for $340, magically, his price drops 80 bucks.
Also, double check what he's handing or showing you is what you asked for. I've had several occasions where the pistol I asked to see was not what he handed me to look at (one time I asked to see a Sig P228, and he handed me a SigPro, this difference is very noticeable, but others may not be quite as much).
Carl N. Brown
November 25, 2006, 12:10 PM
Every gun show I've been to recently the cop at the door
cable ties your gun so a round cannot be chambered.
That also means no one can check the action or barrel.
I have passed on buying used .38 revolvers because I
could not check timing, barrel or chamber condition.
I usually look for ammo, magazines, parts or accessories
I cannot find locally and which would not be economical to pay
shipping and handling to order. I get better service after the sale from
my local dealers on guns, so most gun purchases I make local.
Gun shows either have great bargains or great ripoffs in guns,
either way, the gun show vendor is not there for you after
Know the price range on what you are interested in before going in.
Most vendors are NOT equipped to handle plastic money: take paper.
Thankfully both Meadview Conference Center and Appalachian Fair
Ground have better food than some venues.
On the last day of the show, vendors are looking at paying their
gas, food and hotel/motel bills and I have found my best deals
with vendors on the last day, last two hours.
November 25, 2006, 01:22 PM
You've been given a TON of useful advice. I'll just add this..bring a small notebook and pencil to jot down prices and vendor locations so you can return to the best deal.
November 25, 2006, 08:31 PM
It could just be a VA thing, but the last large gun show I went to required two forms of ID with a CURRENT ADDRESS on both to purchase a firearm.+1, VA State Law. A check with same name/address as your driverís license counts as the second ID (at least it did for me in March 2005) even through I paid cash (got a little better deal with cash.) I think a phone/utility bill with the same name/address counts but Iím not sure. A passport, ATM card or credit card does NOT count.
(Hope this this is helpful to someone.)
November 25, 2006, 11:00 PM
Well, you're in Missouri, but maybe this will apply- I know it does here in Texas.
You need to watch as many episodes of "King of the Hill" as possible, and pay close attention to the way Boomhower talks- you will need to be able to decipher what 80% of the vendors and your fellow attendees are saying. :D
November 26, 2006, 12:11 AM
Gun shows are always a joy to go to. Like many have said, remember the 4 rules. Gun shows here in Jacksonville are usually small, but are fun to go to and can easily be interupted by a kid putting a gun in your face. Don't ever eat something from the food court (I can't because it smells like cigarette smoke and butt and I would puke) so eat before you go. Always look around, but if you see an excellent price on a gun you want snatch it up. Also make sure that the ammo is easy to find. I was at a gunshow last year and saw a 9mm largo for $125. I checked it out and was in good condition but I was not quite familiar with the Largo. I bought it and was looking for some ammo next. I was trying to find a place to buy it from and only one person had it. It was $21 a box :what: ! I took it back, luckily the guy was nice and it was a private sale. Then that same day I came across a Russian Makarov for $225. I am glad I took the 9mm largo back because the makarov is my favorite gun now. Bring cash. To me, it doesn't really matter if you have certain gun you are looking for or not, just as long as you know what gun you are buying and the have knowledge of it. Last but not least, have fun!
November 26, 2006, 01:48 PM
All good advice.
I was reading fast but did not see anything about dry firing. I always see some guy at a show pick up some seller's gun without asking, then put his finger on the trigger and pull it. CLICK! Drives me nuts. Guys like that deserve a buttstroke to the head.
Don't get turned off by:
The guys that never bathe but seem to have plenty of time to eat
The guys with the little red wagon full of junk that rolls over your feet
The posers claiming to be some sort of ex- hi-speed spec-op veteran
Enjoy the show more by taking a friend. I have old friends and coworkers that live far away but we meet at a gun show and then have lunch afterwards. Makes for a great day.
November 26, 2006, 02:05 PM
CASH AND CARRY:neener:
November 26, 2006, 05:07 PM
If you are short on cash, but have something to trade, take it with you. The cop at the door will plastic-tie it shut, but dealers will cut it to inspect it, and reapply a tie...same for any of their guns you want to inspect, as long as it is clear that you are a serious shopper.
The suggestion about taking a small writing pad (mine fits in my shirt pocket) and pen is really good...even if you are interested in something, but don't want to buy it until you do more research, you can get the dealer's contact info along with the gun specifics. He may still have it after the show...
Treat the dealers with respect...treat them as you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes. If nothing else, you may make some friends that way, and friends are likely to get special consideration at future shows.
I always carry a small daypack in my hand (frequently too crowded to wear it), with ziplock bags of mixed nuts and dried fruit, and a bottle of water. The pack is great for carrying small purchases.
Wear your National Rifle Association cap!:D
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