Gun Shows: How far is too far?


March 26, 2011, 07:50 PM
Hello everyone,
Yup this is a gun show thread but I really need some opinions here.
Debating whether or not to travel 90 miles to go to a gun show. Specifically the one in Princeton, IL. I've heard this show is the best one in Illinois and I really want to go to see what all the talk is about. I don't have a table or anything, but I will be bringing a couple rifles with to offer as a possible trade, or sale if I encounter anything I like.

Now I know there are some hard feelings towards gun shows, but I really like them. I enjoy every one I go to no matter how many guns there were or beef jerky tables or whatever.

So I'm looking for some opinions. How far is too far to go for a gun show that is supposedly good? Also if you could explain your reasoning that would help too.

Gas is not really an issue, Gramps has offered to take his truck!

Also, when one lives in such an anti-gun area and people want $200+ for a Mosin, sometimes you really wonder about seeing what else is out there that is more appealing than $4000 "German" FALS with "accessories."

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March 26, 2011, 07:52 PM
90 miles is no biggie, IMO. I'd jump in the car and go...I add very little work mileage on my personal vehicles....8 miles a day, 4 days a week. However, I still rack up 25k+ a year in just running around.

March 26, 2011, 08:04 PM
Most of the gunshows are somewhat further away, typically in the more rural neighboring counties. The furthest one is probably less than an hour away so distance is not a big issue for me.

March 26, 2011, 08:07 PM
Thanks guys, so it seems typical for a longer trip to a gun show.

The last poll option seems kind of redundant next to the 3rd one, so I guess just disreguard it. Sorry about that!

March 26, 2011, 08:10 PM
i know guys that look for any show within a day's drive and will overnight for the fun of being first in. 90 miles is not a problem for them.

Ala Dan
March 26, 2011, 08:16 PM
I would not go a'round the corner, too attend a "gun show"; as by now, most
of them have achieved the title ""JUNK SHOWS"~!

Those tables where a few firearms are found, well most folks (including myself)
would not tote them home; as they are in that bad a condition~! :eek: ;)

OTHO, at the last Birmingham, AL "gun show" I attended (in Oct '06), it was
nothing but a bunch of "old farts" sitting around eating homemade ginger
bread cookies, and drinking buttermilk with high price weaponary scattered
about their tables~! :barf: :cuss: :banghead:

March 26, 2011, 08:19 PM
Went with option 1 since there was no "I no longer go to the conglomerate of local dealers who jack their prices up that they call a gun show around here".

March 26, 2011, 08:24 PM
I think you should attend that show. It is good to stretch your wings from time to time.

I have driven 8 hours to attend a gun show. There are only a few that merit such consideration. I know people that fly and rent a car to attend gun shows. By the same token, I often skip the local shows entirely that I can crawl out of bed and be there in 20 minutes.

As with everything, it depends on the show , who is organizing it, and my history with that show.

Pistol Ranch
March 26, 2011, 09:29 PM
I found some really good jerky, toasted nuts, t-shirts, bumper stickers,
Aztec jewelry, cheap watches and sunglasses at a gun show that I had to drive 50 miles to attend..
They are having another one next month...P.M. me for the location ;)


March 26, 2011, 10:28 PM
About 100 miles is my limit. That happens to be the distance between Northern Virginia and Richmond, which has a couple of good shows (the Raceway -- formerly the Fairgrounds -- and the Mechanicsville Showplace). I used to go to these fairly regularly. But now, since the same promoters, and the same vendors, do the larger Nation's Gun Show in Chantilly, right near me, what's the point of driving the 100 miles? But I'll skip any gun show, generally, unless I'm looking for something very specific.

Actually, some of my best finds in gun-related stuff have been at events not labeled "gun shows" at all. Specifically, I try to always go to the East Coast Rally of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association in Aberdeen, Maryland, the North-South Skirmish Association meets in Winchester, Va., and the 18th Century Market Fair at Ft. Frederick, west of Hagerstown, Md. You can often get bargains, and find rare stuff, because of the "arbitrage effect" of dealing in a different market.

March 26, 2011, 10:32 PM
They are a waste of time unless you want jerky. Hit a pawn shop and low ball. I have had the best deals this way.

March 27, 2011, 01:01 AM
I have friends who fly here from Europe for shows. The most I've traveled for one was ~250 miles - it's always a good show, and I help staff a table at it every year.

Old Shooter
March 27, 2011, 01:02 AM
The farthest I usually go is about 30 miles and it's mostly to walk around and see and handle some of the guns I read about and/or am thinking about buying. I have a parts wish list for some of my older guns and if I spot an item at a decent price I will pick it up then. A lot of the guns are overpriced but every now and then you can pick up a decent deal on something you don't often see in the LGS.

I agree, they don't make gun shows like they used to..... :(

March 27, 2011, 01:44 AM
Up in New England it's about 3-4 times a year we get any gun shows, and they're usually pretty big. I've found some decent deals at them, got my M96 at one. Often they're good for the crossbows, spare parts, handloaded ammo and being a general "gun-oriented fair". Then again, we have less restrictions than other states for what we can get :) I'd say go for it, yes, there's alot of overpriced junk, but also some odds n ends and rare pieces that you can pick up. It's more of a gamble, really, but fun all the same.

March 27, 2011, 02:28 AM
I am 304 miles from Anchorage and have attended events there. Otherwise, the closest is Fairbanks at about 50 miles.

March 27, 2011, 02:58 AM
I would travel a 100 or so miles to visit a good show. Been a while since one met the standard.

March 27, 2011, 03:03 AM
If the show is known for being good I'd travel but the ones locally are really hit or miss.

The Lone Haranguer
March 27, 2011, 03:14 AM
Now I know there are some hard feelings towards gun shows, but I really like them. I enjoy every one I go to no matter how many guns there were or beef jerky tables or whatever.

I am with you on this. :) For that matter, I think most of the complainers are already planning for the next one. ;) I will do it just to enjoy the drive and have some time to kill at the end of it. Ninety miles is not excessive if you look at it that way. I regularly go to shows in/around Knoxville, some 100 miles.

March 27, 2011, 03:57 AM
Tulsa, OKC, Ft. Worth, Mesquite, all within range.

I go for parts, kits, odds and ends, occaisionally I'll find a good deal on an unusual gun.

March 27, 2011, 04:17 AM
I live in Ogden, and I go to Salt Lake regularly anyway. I also haven't paid to get into one in years, I have a family member who scores me passes.

March 27, 2011, 04:33 AM
There are 10 gun shows a year within 10 miles of here but I don't go unless I need something. I don't go to just look. I went to one in Brasher Falls yesterday and picked up a bag of 44 mag casings for $6. Good score! There were a lot of nice rifles and shotguns there but not much in the way of handguns. I go to the one in Syracuse each year which is 3 hours one way but it's huge.

March 27, 2011, 11:02 AM
There are three shows a year on average in Hamilton Montana, I try to make all of them. It is a little over 200 miles each way for me. They never fail to have items I'm looking for or are interested in.

March 27, 2011, 11:14 AM
Our local shows are mainly tables covered with firearms offered by local dealers showing off their stock for which I pay $7 to see. I can get a better deal from my local dealer than I usually can get from a show for a new gun.

Being not large shows for my locality the vendors for ammunition are limited and I can get better deals via the internet. I really go to shows to look around for odds and ends which often I can also find on the internet.

To go a distance it is best to also have a second item on your agenda. Perhaps you look at the gunshow and then do something else like sight see or in my case visit a nearby plant nursery.

March 27, 2011, 11:35 AM
Guess I've gone 90 miles to a show here recently. Actually ended up buying a fair amount of stuff, got a great deal on a set of reloading presses.

Just look at it as a road trip and an afternoon of looking at pretty guns :)

March 27, 2011, 11:45 AM
When it comes to the Great Tulsa Show (next weekend), there is no distance too far (In my case about 250 miles).

March 27, 2011, 11:49 AM
I wouldn't drive more than half an hour, but I'm in a sweet spot geographically, because there are three convention centers around me that routinely have decent shows.

Sounds like if I were in your situation, I'd be tempted to drive the distance just to check it out. Gun shows can be fun, and I've found it's not necessarily about finding great deals any more (although I have found a few :D). I like to wander around, check out prices, hear conspiracy theories, and chew the fat with some friends that I might not see otherwise. I figure the few hours of entertainment is worth the <$10 entry fee. Haha, I just thought about that, most movies around here cost more than a gun show!

March 27, 2011, 03:46 PM
For that matter, I think most of the complainers are already planning for the next one.

Statement makes no sense.

March 27, 2011, 03:58 PM
Well, the poll did specify "good" and gun show.
I've gone 200 miles to hit up some of the bigger militaria shows. At least i did back when i was employed and could afford to.
But, this is also Texas, anything under 4 hours' drive is pretty much a "day" trip.

This Second Depression seems to have dried up a bunch of the traveling shows that would come to my town and the surrounding ones in the 30-40 mile range. The traveler shows seem to have gravitated to the small rental halls just out side the bigger metro areas.

March 27, 2011, 04:59 PM
Well, I did go to that show and boy am I glad! There were about the same amount of guns as my local shows, but they were GOOD guns. The kind I like, lots of colllectables, relics, military stuff, etc. However, there were the occasional absurd prices on certain stuff. Overall, not to many complaints, and I had a great time. In addition to this, the show only cost $2 to get in! This is less than the $5 I'm used to at the more local shows.

Ended up selling a Browning model 53 by just carrying it around, and settled on a more than fair price. Really satisfied with that.

Also picked up an Ultra-vintage L.C. Smith 0 grade damascus shotgun for pretty cheap, which I will put up in the shotgun forum as soon as I get some pictures.

Keep the responses coming!

March 27, 2011, 05:37 PM
I drove an hour each way yesterday to attend a show. Waste of time and gas.

Kurt S.
March 27, 2011, 06:46 PM
When I lived in the NW suburbs of Houston, the shows were mostly more than 15 miles away- Brown Convention Center downtown (17m), Reliant Center (about 20), Conroe (25 or so), Pasadena (close to 40). Made them every chance I got.

Now that I'm out here in Brewster County, Midland/Odessa is about 150 miles, El Paso over 200. Even though I'm retired, it's a little difficult to get to those.

March 27, 2011, 11:16 PM
I love gunshows. A lot of them are pretty lame, however I always find somebody to share information with. Some of the small shows around here are good as they tend to bring in locals with their stuff. I live in NE Ks. and regularly attend the Missouri Valley Arms collector show, it's an excellent show. Next week I'm driving 250 miles to Tulsa and I do it every year. Eleven acres and 4000 tables. I've never went to that show and not brought something home. In Tulsa you'll see one of everything you've ever had and many things you've never seen. It's crowded, some prices are high, it can be hot and sometimes you don't find what you were looking for, but with an open mind it's a very satisfying time.

I never take enough money, but I always have a good time.

Ignition Override
March 28, 2011, 01:25 AM
Living in the Memphis area, the only good show I've attended was in Ft. Worth on Jan 1st, but it was sort of on the way back from elderly in-laws in San Antonio. The selection was about four times larger than those near here and Jackson, TN.

Might try a visit to St. Louis, or Nashville (Franklin was about like all shows near here).

For milsurps, the best in the country is reportedly in Louisville, maybe once per year.

March 28, 2011, 06:38 AM
Depends...on whether it is a good gun show, how long since you've been to the last one, if you're looking for something in particular, whether your driving by yourself or with friends, etc.

Live in Austin, driven up to FT. Worth (3 1/5 hour drive) for a 1200 table show.

Have fun!


March 28, 2011, 06:43 AM
We have a person who puts on about 10-12 shows thru Maine, New Hampshire and Mass. The same person usually has the same dealers, therefor, the same stuff. I usually hit 2 of the shows within 45 min drive one way. Then there are some shows close and up to 2 hours one way that I go to that are put on by the local gun club of that area. I like them shows as I always seem to get the best deals on brass and other components.

March 28, 2011, 11:39 AM
The one show we have locally is about 20 miles as the crow flies. Lot of cheap gun cases, old magazines, various junk, and some overpriced guns kept me from going last year. The same outfit puts on the other area shows which are all over 100 miles away. Same people and the same thing as at the local show so I just quit going to those also.

March 28, 2011, 11:47 AM
When it comes to the Great Tulsa Show (next weekend), there is no distance too far (In my case about 250 miles).

I agree here, this one is worth it, and exactly why I voted the way I did in this thread's poll.

I have made the trip from St. Louis, MO to Tulsa, OK maybe 3 or 4 times in my life and it's never dissapointed.
Wannenmacher's? It's around 7 acres indoors, climate-controlled.

Old guns, new guns, gun parts, ammo, knives, you name it. Even a smattering of jewelry, I guess for if you bring your wife?

March 28, 2011, 12:00 PM
The last 3 gun shows that I have attended really put me off. I have resolved myself to not go, never ever never ever again. I decided it isn't worth it, and here's why:

Right off the bat...factor $15+ to get in the door.
Every booth I went to was selling accessories for %5-%15 more than online e-tailers. I checked prices as I shopped on my phone. Counting the $15 above, i would come out cheaper to sit at home and pay shipping charges. 1 was ridiculously rude. He was selling magpul stuff and I inquired about the magpul mbus that was missing a price tag. He responded with "Why? It's crap. It has no elevation adjustment, why on earth would you want this pece of junk?" He didn't offer to sell me something nicer, just kind of stood there. I guess he was having one of those days?
Lots of vendors on-site selling night sights mounted at a decent price. This is good...but I can mount them myself and the sights themselves were %15 higher than e-tailers.
I went to two show hoping for a good deal on an AR upper, lower or complete rifle. I never saw anything that my LGS couldn't beat.
Ammo prices stunk. Again...slightly more than e-tailers. Saved money on shipping...but lost money on the entrance fee.

The only thing they had going for them was lots of jerky and some decent deals on milsurp, which isn't my thing. I have an enfield...maybe one day I'll add a mouser and a garand.

I think the internet is slowly killing gun shows. Thanks to the internet, Joe Schmoe in Alaska can pay the same price for an item that Peter in Florida bought. It keeps vendors in check, but it hurts some vendors who can't do the volume necessary for volume prices. I'll spend %10 more sometimes to do what I can to support my LGS...but I'm not supporting the roaming vendors at gun shows.

Maybe I just need to give in and go to one of the huge gun shows out town. But the ones that come through my area have put me off of gun shows entirely.

Claude Clay
March 28, 2011, 03:24 PM
i didn't vote cause i haven't gone to one since 07. in 03 i said no more but it took 2 more before i would listen to my self.
but if it pleases you---go.
consider the cost of fuel, possibly lodging and entrance fees like you would any other cost-of-having-fun.
and whose to say your area may be still dynamic; unlike anything within 100 miles of Hartford, Ct which the dog covered up and moved on years ago from.

March 28, 2011, 07:25 PM
It costs me more to go to a movie nowadays, and there is the people watching opportunities on top of the possibility of finding a deal or something special.

There are two gun shows I go to down here and one of them is easily over 20 miles on the highway.

March 28, 2011, 07:28 PM
I've driven two hours one way to go to a gun show. And it was well worth the trip.

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