Are guns shows a good deal for used guns?


May 14, 2012, 09:56 PM
I'm considering going to a local gun show, never been to one before, but I've been looking for a WASR and have had no luck in the my 2 lgs's. Before I spend my weekend and $10 I'd like to know if such shows are usually good outlets for such rifles. Are prices usually higher or lower? Are most people at shops dishonest/shady and trying to rip you off?

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fireman 9731
May 14, 2012, 10:09 PM
Some amazing deals can be had, but usually the prices are outrageous on most things. Don't be afraid to haggle and cash is king. Look for private sellers too, they usually have more reasonable deals than the large dealers. I wouldn't be surprised to see a $600 price tag on a WASR though. Your best bet for them are online dealers like AIM Surplus, J&G Sales, Classic Arms, and places like that.

May 14, 2012, 10:12 PM
I'm sure you will get both yes and no answers. Strongly depends on where you are.

Around here gun shows generally can't be beat for new guns because of competition among the larger dealers in the state at one location. For used guns, most are IMHO overpriced, but I've found a few on occasion, but generally the best used gun deals are from someone walking around disappointed by what the dealers will offer for it, so as long as you know the market, you've room to negotiate between what the dealer will offer and what the guy who paid way too much at retail would like to get.

I enjoy blowing $10 walking around a gun show a lot more than blowing $10 sitting through a movie.

May 14, 2012, 10:14 PM
I like gun shows, you become aware of other shops from not that far away that you did not know about. You can connect with vendors. I would recommend knowing what you are looking for, price range and options prior to going to the show. If you are well informed, you will make the best deals and know a good thing when you see it. I have learned over the years the some of the sellers regularly have the better firearms and at better prices. The shows are worth the price even if you do not buy anything. But that is just me, I enjoy looking at all the neat stuff.


May 14, 2012, 10:16 PM
It is worth the $10 to get a feel for your local shows, they are all different quality. Look for private sellers, but if you have your heart set on an AK fireman 9731 is right go to a national dealer. Not a whole lot of people selling used AK's right now.

May 14, 2012, 10:31 PM
Around here, it's not the bricks and mortar dealers at the gun shows, it's the home FFL's who buy a table and troll for suckers. I've found some great ammo deals, but rarely found decent guns in good conditions for even ballpark-reasonable prices.

May 14, 2012, 10:37 PM
Good for ammo, components, accessories at times, but rarely guns. I have just one firearm I bought at a show.

May 14, 2012, 10:44 PM
One of my best deals at a gun show was for a Savage 24 almost like new for $200 less than I was willing to pay. It was when I was leaving and I met the guy in the parking lot on his way in.

May 14, 2012, 10:45 PM
They are hit and miss. I have been to several and felt cheated out of $$$ and i have been to some and would have payed $$$$$$$$$$ to go in. I love guns so spending $10 to walk around ALL day and look at guns is worth it to me

Sent from my DROID RAZR

May 14, 2012, 10:58 PM
Are you talking the Tucson area shows or Phoenix?

May 14, 2012, 11:15 PM
Are you talking the Tucson area shows or Phoenix?

It's the Flagstaff show.

Firesky - Is the used AK market really that dried up right now?

May 14, 2012, 11:21 PM
Hit or miss here too.When i have money to spend i do not find a good deal.But when i find a good deal i dont have money.I did buy my S W 4044 at a show for 320..

May 14, 2012, 11:24 PM
I'd have to say it depends on the show. I'm not a dealer but I set up at several shows a year to move excess stuff I've accumulated, and to snoop for things I want. I price my stuff reasonably and move a lot of it. I have indeed seen stuff priced so high I'm shocked, but then I've found some very good deals too. You just have to look around.

Now you do realize there's a limited selection at any given gun show out of necessity. You have an unlimited selection online because you can shop all over the world. Know what you want, and know what it's worth, and be prepared to haggle at a gun show. That's getting to be pretty much a lost art, but it used to be the norm 50 years ago. Too bad.

If you're looking for a specific gun, check the usual online sources: AIM, J&G, Gunbroker, Guns America, the "for sale" section of this forum, and other forums. You can find anything at a good price if you are willing to put in the time and effort. If not, you can probably buy anything today at some price, not necessarily the lowest.

But if you've never been to a gun show, by all means go. They are a fun time and you never know what you might find there. Have fun.

Ignition Override
May 14, 2012, 11:45 PM
Being a milsurp guy, my buddies and I must go to shows to seen any decent variety, as only one overpriced (basic WASR: $600) shop here in Memphis-sometimes-has a decent selection. The rest might have two or three actual milsurps (1930s-60s).

You might be a bit familiar with the Czech VZ-58?

May 14, 2012, 11:47 PM
Flag... Tough buyers market that far up sometimes. Should you make a day of it and come down to the valley, try to schedule for the Crossroads show at the University of Phoenix stadium or better still hit the "Small Arms Review" show in the fall at the Fairgrounds and take in all the Class II/III etc... SAR is the only show that will get me to go to the otherwise nasty fairgrounds while the UoP stadium show is better for the run of the mill shows, free parking and a VERY clean show.

Shadow 7D
May 14, 2012, 11:51 PM
Um, it depends, I price it at going (non dealer gunshow prices) I won't loose money, BUT...
the prices are high, cause they want to haggle, and if you are at your bottom dollar amount, you don't have anywhere to go,

But you go, "this is worth X, I have it at a reasonable price, well I can't come down on this but how bout this much for the whole lot." you usually make everybody happy, you are happy for move a lot, they are happy at the fact they got a deal.

Also, I need to get one of the price guides, I know the going on lots, but you throw an enfeild, I'm not going to give you value, I'm going to offer trade value that makes it worth my time to get rid of it.

May 14, 2012, 11:54 PM
Do some homework, know what the going price is, be a little bit tough, be willing to walk away if they won't haggle a bit.

May 14, 2012, 11:56 PM
Gun shows are pretty subjective and as others have stated can be "hit or miss". With that being said you'll never find out if you don't go. 10 bucks can't buy a whole lot now anyways and gun shows are a great way to get a first hand perspective of certain firearms and support local gun clubs/organizations. I've spotted plenty of "steals" at local gun shows, however it will often require a great deal of weeding and sifting through the more outlandishly priced and undesireable stuff.

May 15, 2012, 12:00 AM
Always fun to look. Go to buy or shop for components or accessories. Forget about the guns. Go to a local gunshop.

May 15, 2012, 12:44 AM
A gun show should only be purchased from if one KNOWS what they are buying. If you can identify, inspect, verify, and are aware of proper pricing, then you might find a great deal.

And avoid the reloads. All of them. Or anything that might be reloaded.

May 15, 2012, 03:44 AM
i went to one in tuscon its worth it just for the experience. prices seemed around the same as in store some were much higher but chances are youll run across small stuff youll pick up magazines ammo etc.

if your in flagstaff have you checked j&g sales in prescott they may be the best bet

May 15, 2012, 07:18 AM
It depends upon where you are.

When I was stationed at Ft. Knox, there were a number of very good gun stores between Ft. Knox and Louisville, several of which had EXCELLENT selections of used guns.

Here in the Cleveland area, things are VERY different. Most of the local gun stores have either closed or been bought out by one local chain. Selection of used guns is simply miserable. Prices on used AND new guns range from high to insane. Recently, a seller from Mansfield (south of Cleveland) has opened a store in the Cleveland suburbs (Middleburg Heights) with good prices and decent selection. The local stores really needed the competition.

Down in the Akron/Canton area, there are a couple of very good gun stores. Their prices tend to run high, but they have excellent selections.

Most of my guns have been purchased in face to face transactions with friends or fellow club members, or at gun shows. The local stores tend not to carry the sorts of things I'm interested in (especially pre-lock S&W revolvers).

If you want to sell to me, you've got to have what I want, at a reasonable price. Most of the local stores don't qualify on either count. Local gun shows (Berea and Medina) are FAR more likely to.

May 15, 2012, 06:07 PM
Maybe in a free state AK's are getting passed around like... nevermind that was not highroad, but here no one parts with their AK. I only see them at gunstores. Maybe it is the pain in the neck bullet button that makes people keep it.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
May 15, 2012, 06:15 PM
Where I live, rural area, the gun shows are a joke. They are over-crowded, over-priced, noisy, hard to walk three paces as everyone is stopped in their tracks, looking at some piece of junk that is overly-priced.

The last time I went, I bought some .223 brass. When I got it home, it looked worse under all my reloading bench lights. I ended up tossing about half of it in the trash.:uhoh:

I don't salvage metals any more. Not since I loaded my pickup truck full of brass, iron, steel, copper, etc. and drove 49 miles one way to the salvage yard with an overloaded small pickup truck to only end up with thirty-eight dollars plus some change for all the time I spent, years I spent saving it and finally overloading my truck to get it to the yard.:o I ended up losing money.:banghead:

May 15, 2012, 07:08 PM
I go to 5-6 shows a year. I take cash and trade bait and look for a deal. Usually go home with only a little ammo. Sometimes I sell a gun or 2 that I carry around. But it's like fishing. You ain't going to catch anything sitting on the couch at home. Most of my favorite guns are gunshow finds.

Usually if I find something I want the sellers price is more than I want to pay but occasionally everything works out. Two weekends ago i found a rifle I've been wanting for years. A Stainless Classic Winchester Featherweight in 30-06. They only made a few in 1999 and 2000. I've only seen 1 in the past. Found a guy selling his private collection and he had one unfired, with hangtags still attached. I paid the guy almost 2X what it cost new 12-13 years ago, but still $200-$300 less than something similar would cost new today.

Bought the gun on Saturday, took it to the range Sunday. Fired 1 shot at 50 yards to get it on paper, adjusted the sights and fired shots 2-4 into a .312" group at 100 yards. For me this is the Holy Grail of hunting rifles and you won't find one just anywhere.

If you go to a show looking for something specific you'll be disappointed. If you let the guys with overpriced junk bother you, you'll just leave with elevated blood pressure. Go, enjoy looking, ignore the thieves and jerks and meet some nice folks there doing the same thing you're doing.

Deus Machina
May 15, 2012, 08:48 PM
It's worth going even if you don't buy anything.
Most stuff is overpriced. The local ones have good deals if you scrounge around the old dingy booths, and in the bins in the back that the seller is trying to keep the expensive stuff forward with.
For example, there are no stores with good selection or pricing on reloading supplies around me, but stuff at the gun show can be had for non-rapacious prices. One booth tends to have things just below what I would pay to have them shipped from Midway. Even better, on big things like the brass tumbler and corncob media I bought.
The finds between my friends and I so far include full furniture kits to convert a Saiga for $30, a stainless Bersa 9mm Compact for $280 OTD, a Star Model B for $200 (try finding anything that looks like a 1911 for under $300 in my area!), a NAA mini .22LR for $120, several unissued, nearly unfired Mosin Nagant 91/30s for $110 including the goodies (about right, but we got to inspect them first), and my $30 Carcano.

Shadow 7D
May 16, 2012, 12:35 PM
take cash and trade bait
And there are the two tricks of getting a good deal

first, dealers will deal, some, but they are LESS likely than 'some dude' who's bought a table to either sell off some stuff from their collection OR does it as a hobby
(yes, no matter how much the ATF may not like it, buying and selling guns as a HOBBY is still legal)

You have to look, and if you need something like parts for a specific gun, you may have MUCH better luck in a parts bin, the last one I went to, the collector's association had, as part of their tables, the entire center isle (which happen to be right infront of the entrance) parts by type of rifle. I believe that parting out non functional guns is one of the 'fundraisers' and a damn right steal if they happen to have the part you are looking for.

That said, you also have the guy with a crate of AR lowers, and the lower build kit, doing a package deal for $200, and how he was making his money was the "special" half price build fee of $50 instead of his usual $100, and by selling the rest of the AR, the buttstock and uppers, all in all, it wasn't a bad price for a AR, actually for a custom AR $700 is a good price, but the great deal was the lower, or lower and guts package.

You just have to know what you are looking at. Want a scope, you can get a used scope for 10%-25%? of new and similar stuff like stocks and blanks, saw $500 dollar stock blank move, went to a gunsmith who was building a .338 Mag. for himself.

Shadow 7D
May 16, 2012, 12:39 PM
Oh, and lets not forget about the roasted (and candied ;) ) nuts
and the 'all natural 100% organic' X jerky... Caribou anybody?

May 16, 2012, 12:50 PM
You have to go, you never know what treasure you can find. People are fickle, they sometimes sell guns before even shooting them, because they saw something else, or a buddy told them they should have got another model. Once they see what the dealer will give them it becomes a bargain as they feel the need to get rid of this gun they wanted so much. If you are there when this happens, you can score big. Dealer prices are subjective, just because they run a special on a few models, don't assume that they are all bargains.

May 16, 2012, 12:55 PM
I always say a good gunshow depends on the attendee. I laugh at all the naysayers because if you have a preset perception, you'll usually get what you expect. It also leaves more great deals for me.

1) be informed. know current prices on what you are looking for
2) be systematic, don't bounce around like a pinball, use a method and look at everything on every table
3) be friendly and talk up the vendors
4) have more cash in your pocket than you think you'll need
5) if you are looking for a specific item, do comparision pricing between vendore before you buy
6) be polite
7) ask for their best price, out the door (including taxes) and then make a reasonable counteroffer
8) be positive, I've found great deals at every show I've gone to while the negative nellies were too busy complaining to notice the deals I got.

May 16, 2012, 12:58 PM
It seems to depend on the state. I've witnessed a precipitous decline in the Alaska gun shows since the late 90's. The last "big" one was less than 1/4th the size of the first one I went to in around 99. And most of the tables were static displays, NFS. Sometimes I find good deals on ammo, but the firearm prices are inflated. Mostly I go for socializing and just to see some of the historic displays.

The real gun show has moved on line around here, in the form of several local BB's and classified sites for guns. The day and age when you had to wait for the next big gun show to sell your extra iron is long past. The last few firearms I posted locally were sold and picked up that same day.

May 17, 2012, 08:10 PM
You will find a lot of overpriced merchandise at most gun shows. You will also likely find a good deal or 2 if you are willing to search and search, then dicker. Never pay the asking price! If they won't go lower, walk away. Sometimes you will find the best price near the end of the last day, when some dealers dread having to haul their stock back out to the trailer.

May 17, 2012, 09:05 PM
By the time a dealer buys a table, brings in the staff he needs, and takes care of travel expenses, he's easily got an extra $1,000 invested before he sells anything. He as to cover that somehow in order to make the trip worthwhile.

Check the firearms classifieds at for a benchmark... usually about 1,000 rifles for sale there, and about the same number of handguns, mostly private purchase situations.

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