What can I expect from a gun show?


February 26, 2007, 08:06 PM
There will be a gun show in Tucson, AZ march 3-4 at the pima county fairgrounds.. what can I expect from the show? Any fake guns if possible? do they take credit cards? Just curious never been to one and dont want to be lowballed./.. any input is appreciated.. thank you much!

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February 26, 2007, 08:14 PM
You can expect high gun prices, a crowd full of illegal aliens, thugs and Californians all tying to find straw purchasers, beef jerky, candles, sunglasses, cheap optics and a lot of other useless crap. Most the larger vendors will take plastic with an extra charge, most of the smaller vendors will not.

I go to almost every gun show in the Phoenix area. I used to go to the Tucson and Flagstaff shows too, but cut that out a couple of years ago, it just wasn't worth the money. With a $12 entrance fee and a $6 parking fee, I'm about to give up the Phx shows too.

Unless I'm wanting to buy a goodly amount of bulk ammo, I'll just stick to the smaller local shows from here on in.

February 26, 2007, 08:15 PM
1. Cash is king. Some places may take checks, and fewer may take debit/credit.
2. Expect lots of beanie babies, beef jerky, and airsoft crap.
3. Do your research before the show in order to avoid getting hosed. Prices may vary wildly.

good luck!

February 26, 2007, 08:17 PM
Deffinatly do your research first
I dont know how many times ive seen a price at the gun show on a used gun that seemed high and when I got home and checked it out it was new gun pricing

February 26, 2007, 08:42 PM
People sell gold too (coins, nuggets, etc), watches, jewelry, lots of knives, milsurp, NRA memberships. I saw lots of optics, but nothing over $200. You can usually find good deals on magazines and miscellaneous parts for more popular firearms. You also see a lot of beat up old crap for ridiculous prices.

Ammo is probably the best reason to go. You can usually find something reasonably priced. In bulk, it'll be tax free and likely cost much less than buying locally with tax or paying a ton for shipping fees out of state. Money can let you haggle a little too if the person is willing to play ball. Some people with tables don't seem to want to sell anything though.

February 26, 2007, 08:44 PM
There's one in my area next month as well. Was thinking of going but I don't really hear good things from shows. Only good experience are people buying guns off people unloading their stuff at shows.

February 26, 2007, 08:50 PM
hmmm ive heard more negatives than posotives... ill probably cancel

Prince Yamato
February 26, 2007, 09:05 PM
you CAN find good deals, you just need to know what to look for. Truth be told though, you can find many better deals over the internet. Also the supposed "gun-show loophole" ie, Face to Face (FTF) transfer... yeah, the only people I ever find selling guns at shows are FFLs. So you still have to pay the stinking sales tax.

Ala Dan
February 26, 2007, 09:51 PM
Here in central Alabama, you can expect too see a bunch of old fart's
with weapons that command insanely high prices, sitting around eating
cookies and drinking milk~! :uhoh: :eek: :scrutiny: :banghead:

February 26, 2007, 09:53 PM
Just as I said in response to a simlilar question over at TFL, expect a lot of fantasy swords, Nazi regalia, mystery ".40SW +p+" reloads in a plastic bag, and beat used pistols for a fraction of their new price - usually about 5/4. (It's an old line but a good one). :D

Having said that, gun shows are fun, bargains on milsurps, ammo, books, magazines (both kinds), parts, etc., can be found, some people bring their exotic NFA stuff to show off - I've seen a real MG34 and '50s AR10 on display, sometimes collector's associations have great displays of Garands, Winchester lever-actions, Lugers, and so on, and it is, after all, a huge room filled with thousands of guns. They're not usually an ideal venue to purchase current-production or recent used firearms, at least in my experience, but overall, not a bad afternoon's entertainment for a few bucks.

February 26, 2007, 09:59 PM
I hate gun shows and rarely go to them. The only thing I enjoy about gun shows is that you do get to see (and handle if you ask nicely) a lot of weapons and other items that you don't normally see at gun stores. All kinds of odd junk is sold at gun shows. I find that attending one gun show about ever 5 years more than satisfies my needs.

Ragnar Danneskjold
February 26, 2007, 10:04 PM
You can expect a lot of beef jerky, and other kinds of jerky as well :)

February 26, 2007, 10:08 PM
I've only picked up ammo and ammo cans. Those are dirt cheap. Accessories are good too. My friend's wife picked up a large ammo bag that she now uses as a purse. Most of the vendors at my local gun show (held almost every month) take plastic, but I'm sure they'll work a bit for cash. Research is key, as others have said. Remember, these are guys out to make a profit of some form.

Leif Runenritzer
February 26, 2007, 10:10 PM
You should go at least to see what it's like. I'm sure that many gunshows are as trashy as we always hear, but not the one's i've been to.

Jim K
February 26, 2007, 10:12 PM
Wow! Those descriptions may (or may not) be accurate in some areas, but most places they would be, at best, somewhat jaundiced.

In fact, gun shows can be good places to buy guns, if you know what you are doing. And there is no better place to look at guns and learn. One of the major failures of beginning collectors is not looking at enough guns to know what is right and what is not. Gun shows can help remedy that problem.

Whether the show is mainly guns/accessories or mainly unrelated junk depends on the show sponsors; they approve the table applications. As to people trying to buy guns illegally, most shows in this (VA/PA/MD) area don't have much of a problem. The sponsors police them pretty well and there is often some (usually unobtrusive) BATFE/police presence. Due to the state laws, most sellers will be FFL dealers, but that is not always true.

If you plan to buy and are not from the state where the show is being held, make arrangements in advance with your local dealer to take a shipment for you. It is even better if he will give you some signed copies of his FFL, so you can give one to the seller and he can ship. If you have a C&R license, take it with you and you can walk out with C&R items. You can also walk out with antiques (pre-1899).

One thing to remember is that the seller rarely cheats the buyer; the buyer cheats himself by thinking that he has found something worth paying too much for and that the seller doesn't know what he has. That is true once in a while, but usually it is the buyer's delusion and the buyer's loss.

Unless going to the show is inconvenient, go and enjoy. See for yourself, don't take other people's word on it.


February 26, 2007, 10:13 PM
Not much I can add to what everyone else said, but even then I still enjoy going. The only thing's I've ever bought at one were a Makarov pistol, and a couple of magazines for guns I already had, but it's just fun to walk around, and look. I'm not looking for anything, and there are a lot of shall we say "characters" who show up. I'll usually find some old coot like myself to talk to.

Where else you going to get to see all three pistols that Hitler used to kill himself in one room? (and one of them was a Glock. ;) )

February 26, 2007, 10:23 PM
Jim Keenan makes some great points. They can be educational, the well-informed and calm shopper generally has nothing to fear, and the ones I've been to, although they did have fantasy swords and Nazi regalia and some rinky-dink ammo (I've never actually seen "mystery .40SW +p+ reloads", I just think the phrase is kind of funny), the majority of the tables featured guns and gun-related accessories, parts, and books.

If you've been to a few, the humorous or questionable aspects can tend to stick in one's mind, that's all. :)

cracked junior
February 26, 2007, 10:29 PM
i posted a couple weeks ago about legality of buying a rifle in kansas, while being a nebraska resident. gun show across the border into kansas. i went to it but didnt buy anything. it was like others have said. everything but good firearms. there were used rifles that cost more then cabelas new pricing. jerky, candy, coins, gold, clothing, military clothing, stripper clips, used m16/ar15 mags, homemade crafts.

one table had a used and abused m6 laser sight/light combo, the sticker said 300. the guy wouldnt come down at all. i i finaly said i can buy new for cheaper and he turned away.

i did talk to a guy that i havent talked to in a few years. so it was worth it.

February 26, 2007, 10:32 PM
Where else you going to get to see all three pistols that Hitler used to kill himself in one room? (and one of them was a Glock. ;) )

Ha, good one. 2 shows ago I saw a Luger with a crudely hand-lettered sign that said something like "Hitler had one". Apart from that being a somewhat unappealing sales pitch, wasn't he really more of a Walther man? :rolleyes:

Jim K
February 26, 2007, 10:43 PM
By most accounts, Hitler was not much of a gun person. He never hunted and was a strict vegetarian. He carried a gun at times for protection in the early days, and it was a gun belonging to him that Geli Raubal used to kill herself, but he had no collection, as Goering did.

The Walther Hitler used on himself was a factory presentation piece. Sometimes described as "solid gold", it was not, though it was engraved and gold plated, quite the sort of thing that would be presented by a major arms factory to the head of state.


February 26, 2007, 10:51 PM
If you're into reloading you can save the hazmat shipping fees by getting primers and powder. Then again, after paying the parking and entrance fees, you could just patronize your local shop.

February 26, 2007, 11:12 PM
I enjoy the living daylights out of the gunshows I attend. Perhaps I'm a bit too easily pleased, or the shows I go to are "different", but I always appreciate the chance to go.

One major factor unmentioned so far, is that you often can actually see (and sometimes handle) guns that you have only read about, or have no realistic expectation of owning. Some exhibitors/sellers are literally founts of information about their particular fields, and I have LEARNED a great deal from chatting with such folks.

At our small-town local show, with perhaps only fifty tables or so, I found the absolute best deal I ever expect to find. It happened as I was ready to walk out the door, when I glanced back and saw a revolver GLITTERING at me from easily 50 feet away. I went back, and found a Smith & Wesson SPECIAL PRESENTATION GRADE pre-Model 27 .357 revolver, in excellent-plus condition. It was engraved as a Camp Perry prize gun for the 1959 National Matches.

The price was $275. I even beat him down to $250, and having sold two Ruger three-screws at the show for a $140 profit, I figure the S&W cost me only $110 out of pocket! The gun's history was confirmed by Roy Jinks, S&W's historian, as was the Presentation designation (of which I had never heard).

February 26, 2007, 11:42 PM
beef jerkey, overpriced crap, beef jerky, tacticoolnees at inflated prices, beef jerky, overpriced stuff, beef jerky, the occasional deal, oh and did I mention beef jerky?

February 27, 2007, 12:15 AM
You can find good deals! Nothing spectacular, but I have found the guns I was looking for and I paid their online price, but since I didn't need a dealer transfer, or shipping, I saved some money.

I've actually bought both of my gun show purchases from the same guy, but at different gunshows. He always seemed to have what I wanted, at a great price. I told him he had the best prices and he simply said, "I'm not here to get rich like some people, but I try to make a little."

Guess who I'm going to find next time the big gunshow hits town? I could probably get him to knock a few buck off the sticker price because I've already bought two guns from him, but I'd rather pay full price and give him some extra money for his honesty in a place of some very dishonest people.

February 27, 2007, 12:19 AM
WOW:eek: The gun shows around here are not like what was described above. I try to go early because they get too crowded. Most of the vendors are friendly and go out of their way to help you find something. I picked up a SIG 229 40cal for $529 at the Dayton gun show. I guess maybe I should stay in Ohio:confused:

February 27, 2007, 12:27 AM
Ive only ever been to one gun show. Unfortunately, it seemed to meet the negative descriptions above, more than the positives... A lot of wierd, shady-looking individuals, many many overpriced guns of a fairly limited variety, and tons of worthless junk. Unless you want bulk ammo, or the like- I got a good deal on some brass, so it wasnt a total waste- I probably wont go to another for a couple years or so.

Prince Yamato
February 27, 2007, 02:16 AM
One advantage to going to gunshows however, is that you can bargain. You have to know what you're looking for. Sometimes you find a deal, sometimes you don't. The reason people don't see too many "deals" anymore is that most people there are FFLs selling at store prices. The private sellers tend to be few and far between.

February 27, 2007, 10:03 AM
I have been to a few gun shows and I tend to go just for the entertainment and the education experience. I get to handle as many guns as I want to and I get to talk to other gun people. I will usually end up buying some form of reloading components if I can get a decent price. Very rarely I will buy a gun. I did find a Remington 700 ADL in .270 for less than what I can buy a used Savage in similar configuration from a private seller.

February 27, 2007, 10:19 AM
My experience with the gun show that rolls by town is that there are a couple of tables with people TRYING to sell guns. Then there are the rest that are just there to show off stuff or sucker people into paying premium for junk :scrutiny: (or I don't know what they're doing). If you see a gun on a table that's decently priced then that dealer is trying to sell something. If it's over-priced, move to another table, those guys are there for something else and they rarely come down on the price. Best deals at gun shows are from people walking around trying to sell guns TO dealers. Don't keep your eyes peeled on the table, look for people with guns walking around. Once I just hung out near a dealer that had a "WE BUY GUNS" sign and talked to people getting low ball offers (like $50 for a SxS winchester) and turning away. Too bad I wasn't looking for one.

Creeping Incrementalism
February 27, 2007, 10:34 AM
How much does beef jerky typically go for at gun shows? I probably eat two pounds a week, so if I could find a good, cheap source I might go to a show just for that.

February 27, 2007, 10:46 AM
I think that one of the best things about a gun show is that you can handle a lot of weapons that your local dealer can't or doesn't stock. That lets you get a "feel" literally, as well as a chance to examine fit and finish, so that you can either eliminate a weapon from consideration or add it to your wish list.

Big Calhoun
February 27, 2007, 10:46 AM
Every show, or I should say, every organization that puts on a show can produce a different experience. I've been going to one here in the Dallas area pretty steadily. I forget who it's put on buy (Dallas Arms?) but's it's usually held at the Market Center.

IIRC, upon visiting the website for this organization, I looked at their rules for vendors and they specifically had a rule against non-firearm related items. Now, didn't stop me from finding a guy selling some very yummy homemade sausage, but all in all, there weren't too many non-firearm related items to be had.

As far as the atmosphere itself, I was a little intimidated at my first one because it was mostly white, older males and I'm a young black male. But after talking to a few vendors, I felt very comfortable and enjoyed myself.

Vendors are different. Some seemingly don't mind if you pick up a weapon and handle it. Others do seem to regard that as a big 'no no'. I simply do as the romans do: If I pass by a vendor and it appears he has no problem with people handling the wares, then I'll usually check out some stuff. Otherwise, I stick to 'window shopping'.

Price wise, the actual gun prices do seem a little higher than what you could pay for locally. I was a little surprised by that. IMO, you do get selection though as I had a chance to view and handle (in some cases) firearms that I've heard of but never seen or manufacturers that I don't have any experience with. So if anything, it is a good 'candy store' type experience. I do tend to find somewhat better prices on ammo and thats usually what I end up buying. Typically, I save $3-$5 a box from what I would pay locally, which isn't bad IMO. As far as I can tell, cash is indeed king. But it seems to be that way in the gun business in general. I haven't attempted to purchase a firearm at a show so I have no impressions as to how much you can bargain with the vendors.

But again, these are my impressions from the shows I attend out here in Dallas. I'd imagine that any given show could be different, for better or for worse. YMMV.

February 27, 2007, 10:52 AM
I have seen it all. I have seen, what I suspected to be, undercover feds trying to sell full-autos, and full-auto conversions (Clinton era), to people. Near-by FFL-holders told me that these characters were Feds. To buy the kits, one had to provide a name, address and telephone number, then pay. The company would send you the kit. Yeah...right.

I saw shoplifting off the tables, and I alerted the owner. I have seen the deal of the century. I have seen people refusing to budge a penny on an item that was near worthless. Why do people do what they do? I don't know, but it is always entertaining. Just don't take things too seriously. Go and enjoy it for what it is...a gathering of a whole lot of very interesting, and mostly nice people.

Credit cards, trades, barters, cash, etc. all accepted. Oh yeah...be ready for a lot of unrequested advice. :rolleyes: Many people will tell you everything you never wanted to know. Overall, if you don't get too serious, it's fun!


Ala Dan
February 27, 2007, 11:39 AM
Beef Jerky usually sells for $3.50 a bag for the economy size; and $5.00 a
bag for the "super size". You can buy a bag, and eat for a week if your
wifey ain't into cooking~! (Laughing Loudly :D :D :D)

February 27, 2007, 12:23 PM
No - DON'T CANCEL. They are great. Just remember to really look around and when you find a gun you are interested in DICKER a bit. I have bought some really great guns from shows. Most aren't as bad as described here although some are. Cash is king, as someone stated, but many take credit cards. Fewer people, it seems, want personal checks although you can use them too. A lot of times people will sell their unwanted guns at the entrance and it can be productive.

A GREAT GUN SHOW, at Pennsdale in Pennsylvania is coming up this weekend at the firehall. It is not huge but a relatively big show. Lots of guns and a very decent breakfast. There will be no beanie babies or jewelry stands there!

So, again I say -DON'T CANCEL - Try it out. And good luck.

February 27, 2007, 12:54 PM
I have more favorable experiences than many here. The larger gun show will often have a good variety of ammo you can't find elsewhere (and pay cash for), books you don't see at Barnes & Noble and oh yeah lots of guns. The smaller ones are still nice ... lots of guns.
I don't go with the expectation of finding a bargain anything but I'm on the lookout for good buys or something "on my list"... like for example the guy selling his private collection of Garands (I turned so fast that it almost gave me whiplash), or the very nice Swedish 96/38 for $200. Sometimes it is something you can't find locally, like a Marlin 1894 (another private seller) or the AO carbine (out of town vendor and 4473'd).
None of those were any screaming bargains ... but they weren't overpriced either.
Just go, have fun, look and browse and ... be alert! Opportunity sometimes meets available funds.

February 27, 2007, 12:57 PM
Here in central Alabama, you can expect too see a bunch of old fart's
with weapons that command insanely high prices, sitting around eating
cookies and drinking milk~!

A sad but true assessment of every gunshow I've been to here in 'Bama. Other than the milk and cookies. Never seen that. I always suspected something stronger than milk was the order of the day. :scrutiny:

February 27, 2007, 08:34 PM
Definite indigestion if you eat the urinal flavored hotdogs :what:

February 27, 2007, 08:44 PM
Maybe you guys are a bit scarier than I thought... :rolleyes:

I go to Crossroads of the West here in Phoenix every time it comes through and I itch and moan about the price (12 bucks) to get in and parking (just like kids in a drive though; carpool) they are hugely fun.

I see many of the same people and many new people. It's always a blast. In spite of Sara Brady's claim to the gun show loophole I've actually seen people get denied a sale because they said they weren't citizens or here illegally. So that's total BS in my experience.

I've found crap. Of course I've found it at Cabela's and other local shops too!

But I've also found gems. Beautiful pieces that I bled for. That was where I was actually able to hold a real SigP210! WOW!

And if you can ignore/avoid the glockophiles (ug talk about creepy!;) You can find amazing deals from both FFL's and FTF sales.

The best recommendation I've seen is to go informed. If your looking for something in particular know what your buying. Know it's price. Know what to look for to see if it's good, i.e. not broken.

Ultimately it's buyer beware. Just like your local shop. If a feller has a pile of crap tell him no thanks and walk away. Just remember to wash your hands, that Jerky is spicy and I always rub my eyes in disbelief:what: owee!

February 27, 2007, 08:57 PM
Go in with a plan. If you are looking for a Mosin Nagant you would want to know what type and go looking for that, bore condition, matching numbers ect.. Ammo early in the day especially if it is .30 cal govt type in bandoleers it sells out quick. Parts for M1 Carbines, yada yada. Then it's a great time to walk around and watch for the good deals. I picked up a never used/shot low serial # Iver Johnson 22LR .30 cal carbine look alike (West Germany) for $150.00 the 15 round magazine alone that came with it can be worth upwards to $100.00. :D

February 27, 2007, 09:33 PM
you should definitely go. I wouldn't expect any real big bargains on firearms, but you never know. After all, how bad can a gun filled afternoon be anyway?

February 27, 2007, 09:41 PM
I've been to a few in Dallas as well. My impression is there are a few categories, with some crossover.

*There are some fairly large dealers that focus on low prices on new guns. I've bought two handguns from two different dealers and in each case got a much better deal than I could find on the internet.
*There are several dealers that specialize in AR15 variants, with some other odds-and-ends thrown in. Lots to choose from.
* There are several dealers with lots of old guns, some collectible, some just old. These may or may not have items from past wars.
* A handful of vendors specialize in accessories, from gun parts to safes, to purses, etc.
* Lots of knives.

It's worth the trip, but I won't be going every weekend.

February 27, 2007, 10:08 PM
I go too and set up at gun shows. You will find junk and you will find gems.

I have found the price of the tables has a lot to do with the type of dealers you will deal with. I first set up at about every show I could get too. Some of the smaller promoters will rent table for as little as 10 or 15 dollars a table. These are the shows you will find the more shady types, that think they will get rich selling junk. They will have small inventories and not really be in business as such.

If you go to the bigger and more expensive shows you will have dealers with much larger inventories and willing to price things to sell. They are looking at the overall profit for the show and not so worried about making a killing on every gun.

I stopped setting up at the smaller shows, now only set up at the larger shows. I still find great deals, both from other dealers and customers.

February 28, 2007, 08:40 AM
$400 dollar makerov pistols,$500 ruger mark2's.50% mark-up over retail.

My nephew went to one last weekend and called me from his cell.I had to laugh but told him to wait and come visit the local guy who will give him a much better price.I told him the tables have to charge extra to pay for the rent and they pass on their costs to the buyers to make it profitable to lug their stuff around show to show.I told him its best to go on the last day and the last 2-3 hours when they dont want to lug it back again and might cut him a deal.He just left.

Apparantly, its not changed.They still peddle the other non gun stuff and should change the name to flea markets.

February 28, 2007, 09:09 AM
teal shotgun $1500
double barrels from $500-1400
Jennings J22 magazines $20
beef jerkey
beanie babies
a couple dealers have the same exact shotguns every show

February 28, 2007, 11:36 AM
Last show I went to I was looking for a specific gun. Found several but passed them up. They were used. I did pick up a couple cans of Rem oil just cuz I needed to buy something. Afterwards we went to Gander Mountain and they had the same gun I was looking for NIB over 100.00$ cheaper. I did save 20 cents on the Rem oil though. Next big show I'll propably go, but just do your homework. Have fun.

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