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Going to my first gun show! What to expect/watch out for?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by newbie4help, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. newbie4help

    newbie4help Member

    Feb 11, 2008
    What kind of good deals and/or scams should I look out for?
  2. Duke of Doubt

    Duke of Doubt member

    Dec 29, 2008
    We really ought to build a sticky with all the gun show "archetypes." You know; Ye Olde Codger, Spooky Class III Guy, Jerky Turkey, Mighty Hercules, Ammo Dump, The Armorer, Mr. Yard Sale, Herr Faek, The Professor, Glockophile Donedeal, and all the rest.
  3. doubleh

    doubleh Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    NM-south of I-40
    High prices. I haven't seen a bargain at a gun show in years. I've seen a few things at list price but overpriced is more common in this part of the world.
  4. Hungry Seagull

    Hungry Seagull member

    Feb 19, 2009
    We went to a gun show once years and years ago.

    There were two people that were... strange. Munster family/gomez addams family strange. Every table we go to, there they were a distance nearby.

    We spend the whole show worrying about these two fellas and dont recall anything in the place.

    Hopefully there will be gunshows in the future without ... strange people to worry about. Creepy people with bright eyes and stiff walks and sort of a ... tight, tense, non relaxed look. *Shudders.
  5. pbearperry

    pbearperry Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Peoples Republic of Massachusetts
    Look out for those loopholes we keep hearing about.
  6. jakemccoy

    jakemccoy Senior Member

    May 26, 2007
    Northern California
    There are some good deals and some bad deals. You have to know what you want and what it's worth before you get there. If I find myself unsure about a price, I don't buy. The least expensive new gun I've bought was at a gun show. On the flip side, I did get burned once on a leather gun sling that was overpriced.
  7. pgeleven

    pgeleven Member

    May 17, 2007
    traverse city, mi
    dont forget:

    'The Lying Historian' i.e. "this pistol was found in the Führerbunker"

    -do a lap or 2 around the place before buying anything, you have no clue how many of us buy something right off the bat on impulse only to find out we could have gotten it cheaper on the other side of the room. many vendors are selling the same or similar items.
    -take a friend with you. preferably one who also has knowledge in the world of firearms so you can get a second opinion on a purchase (second opinions do NOT count when coming from the vendors). if you dont have a friend who knows firearms, then bring one who knows your current financial situation so you dont walk out broke.
    -never let the vendors pressure you. they can smell interest on you and will say lines like 'well id get that one now if i were you, a fella was just talking about buying it and went off to the bank and could be back any minute'. they want to make as much $ and pack up as less crap after the show as possible so some will use pressure sales.
    -dont get in pissing matches about firearm facts. some guys will exaggerate on the capabilities of an item and you WILL feel inclined to slap them. just let them do their little talk and remember what they say so you can post it on here later and we can all have a laugh
    -dont feel like you are inclined to buy anything. i have spent many $5-$10 covers to get into a show only to find there was absolutely NOTHING there i wanted. just chalk it up as a field trip and walk on, you DONT have to buy anything.

    just enjoy yourself there. roughly 90% of the items will be overpriced because the vendors ARE trying to make a profit. this isnt a garage sale. but you should be able to find some good deals. just be wary about what you may purchase there.
  8. rickomatic

    rickomatic Member

    Feb 25, 2007
    Snohomish, WA
    Hopefully your state hasn't closed the "gunshow loophole" yet.
    There's nothing more maddening than waiting around for your background check to come back on that packet of buffalo jerky.
  9. Duke of Doubt

    Duke of Doubt member

    Dec 29, 2008
    Sgt. B's advice is sound. Lately I've bought very few guns at shows, but plenty of ammunition, accessories, parts, supplies, books, bayonets, militaria, et cetera. You'll get your $5 admission worth; don't feel pressured to bring home a gun.
  10. bannockburn

    bannockburn Senior Member

    Apr 24, 2007
    I think SGT B covered most of the highlights. Just a couple more...

    Take along a notepad and something to write with. Don't know how big your shows are, but it helps to write down what you saw, what table you saw it at, and how much it was. Helps for future reference if you want to go back and look at something again.

    Pay attention to not only the tables but what other people are walking around with, trying to sell on their own. Dealers and most individual table holders aren't going to give top dollar for anything. But you might catch a bargain if a private seller has been "educated" about what their gun is really worth, and they're trying to get a decent in-between price for it.

    Also don't just look at guns. Many vendors have parts, ammunition (though that has become rather scarce for some time now), accessories, books, etc. Keep an open mind about everything.

    And of course, caveat emptor.
  11. kdave21

    kdave21 Member

    Sep 18, 2007
    I started going to gunshows about 2 years ago. I have only sold one gun, and bought one gun at a show. I have paid many covers, and never bought a thing, or just something little. I mainly go for the education benefit. First you can get a good idea of what guns sell for, and can compare to your local sporting goods store. And even though you hear lots about the scoundrels at the shows, there are also a lot of genuinely good guys who will take time to educate you. (Yes sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt, especially if there is something in it for the guy talking to you). Even though I am an FFL, I am far from a gun expert, and dont pretend to be. Rather I engage guys with the truthful statement of, "I am not real familiar with this model, what can you tell me about it?" People appreciate it when you admit you're not a know it all but have an interest in learning. I also go to the gunshow to observe people. Definitely some wierd peeps there, but in a wierd way, that's just part of being in America. It's cool to see the people from all walks of life take part in their 2nd amendment rights.
  12. colorado_handgunner

    colorado_handgunner Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Florence, SC
    Make sure to check if truly is NIB. Also, keep an eye out for knockoffs.
  13. crazy-mp

    crazy-mp Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    I have to disagree with pgeleven, if you see something you want and YOU think it is a good price buy it then, more than one I have thought, "No I will wait and see if anyone has it cheaper", or "I will get it before I leave," because I didn’t want to carry 600 rounds of ammo around. Well you will be mad when you go back and it is gone or even worse going to where it is and seeing someone pick up what you wanted and getting it cheaper than the price tag says.

    Yes I have bought things out of peoples hands before while they were kicking the tires at gun shows, it will piss them off but if they wanted it they should have bought it before I said I will take every box of it you have.

    The worst that could happen is you will over pay a bit, but if it something that you really want and you think it is a good price go for it, and don’t let all the prices scare you, most people at gun shows will come down if you can convince them you are there to buy, not just a tire kicker.
  14. gidaeon

    gidaeon Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    south east MI
    Don't buy a firearm that you didn't research well before attending the show. Learn value, traits, ect., Do a THR search before hand. This will prevent you from way overpaying, and over looking something important condition wise, as well as help a little bit with buyers remorse. Know what you are interested in, choose several models\options you find acceptable and know your price range ahead of time. Never buy a used gun without inspecting the action, and checking bore, muzzle condition. Be skeptical but polite. Its okay to merely 'window shop' and learn before forking over hard earned cash.

    Ask me why I say this\know this :eek:

    Just visit the 'most embarrassing gun shop moment \ purchase stories' thread for healthy reminders :D
  15. ThrottleJockey

    ThrottleJockey member

    Jan 25, 2009
  16. pgeleven

    pgeleven Member

    May 17, 2007
    traverse city, mi

    everyone has their own shopping technique. the reason for me to recommend that was i have purchased an item at one of the first tables and found the same thing for a better deal, or better condition, down the tables. to each his own, but thats only my suggestion. you do have a valid point on someone else snaking a good deal away before you can come back to it, but when it comes to the more expensive purchases, it never hurts to browse a bit. id rather go home empty handed rather than find out i could have saved a few hundred or more.
  17. Duke of Doubt

    Duke of Doubt member

    Dec 29, 2008
    "Oh, just one more thing" (said Detective Columbo):

    The dealers will respect and appreciate you more, and will offer, unasked, to come down on price if you LOOK at their guns without picking them up, and then pick up the ONE you really are interested in. Sure, you'll pick up a couple at the show to inspect more closely. But an experienced buyer knows what he is looking at without having to pick it up and handle it. You pick it up to check condition or maybe a proof mark you can't quite see. And condition matters only if you are considering buying the thing, not just looking at it.

    All that handling wears the finish and even the fitting of the guns. There's a big difference in value between a 99% gun and a 95% gun. If you really want to handle some guns to learn about them "hands on," work the action, take out the bolt, etc., but aren't likely to buy them, then fine -- pick up the 40% specimen, not the 99% specimen. THEN, ask if he minds you taking a closer look at the 99% gun. He won't mind, now. Inspect it carefully, and gently broach the question of the price. Watch it fall.
  18. taprackbang

    taprackbang member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Go to the little guys. Ask them if they have what you are looking for, if you do not see it out on a table. I have discovered mucho 'mil surp' .308 by employing this exact method. Be folksy and just chat with folks 'cause friends want to help friends out.
  19. Cannonball888

    Cannonball888 Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2007
    This should be a sticky too:

    Ode to the Gunshow (edited for language)
    Originally by McUZI

    Saturday's a coming And I can't wait
    Gunna hurry on over, Cuz I can't be late
    I'm going to the place We all love and know
    The local overpriced nightmare gun show

    I had to park my car twelve miles away
    The walk to the door takes me half a gosh darn day
    I go to the door and pay my entrance fee
    Walk around the floor, to see what I can see.

    I get a sample Beef Jerky that taste old and stale
    Some lady's selling left over garbage from her last garage sale
    I see a table with some hardware that's looking mighty fine
    I pass a pair of homies gawking at a Tec-9
    I get to the table and what do I see?
    A gun I've always wanted. There just for me.

    I ask the dude behind the table, (How much is this thing)?
    I was hoping that the price was right and wasn't going to sting
    He thought for a second, and rubbed his Grizzly Adams beard
    His demeanor got somber, and his face looked weird

    "This very gun was used by a NAVY SEAL
    but I'm in a good mood, so I'll cut you a deal
    Ordinarily, I'd need to get a grand for this gun
    But I'll sell it for $800, howse that sound to ya son?"

    I about soiled my pants!
    "$800? EAT MY SOCK!
    It's a worn out police trade-in ratty old Glock
    I think you were drinking when you wrote your price tags
    So you can keep your stupid Glock and your lame post-ban mags"

    But I didn't despair, I just went on my way
    The Class-3 table ought to brighten my day
    The man behind the table was a sketchy old cat
    With dark tinted glasses and a MOLON LABE hat

    He stood there looking proud at all his full-auto goodies
    The kind of guns that could give a gun-nut woodies
    I asked him how much he wanted for the Colt M-16?
    He snapped his head around and started to scream


    His arms were flailing 'round like a bat out of hell
    And just at that moment, I caught a horrible smell
    I felt kind of bad, but it still made me laugh
    What he has is machineguns, what he needs is a bath

    So I pulled up my shirt to cover my face
    My eyes were tearing up like I got nailed with mace
    I walked off quick, the smell was just too rude
    Till I got to the table of the C&R dude

    "This rifle is handpicked and personally chosen
    by the Czar of Russia as the Worlds finest Mosin
    Now lest you think it's out of your price range
    I'll let this gem go for $200 and change"

    I said "Dude, your nuts. Out of your freaking mind.
    Those guns sell for $50, for the exact same kind"
    He got really mad, and threw a hissy-fit
    So I told him he could keep his outdated old kit

    I needed some ammo, so over I went
    To the ammo display in the green army tent
    The ammo guy named Tom told me to come in
    And look through the baggies in the little blue bin...

    He said his 10mm ammo should be somewhere in there
    Loaded by his drunk brother Willie, hot enough to kill bear.
    I politely declined, and wandered back out on the floor
    And slowly but surely made my way back to the door.

    As I left the building. the promoter said "Have a nice day"
    To which I replied "Your gun show was lame"
    They asked if I had plans on ever coming back?
    Yeah. Maybe the next time I'm strung out on crack

    The moral of the story is "modern gun shows suck"
    And are no longer the place to go if you want to save a buck
    While there are things there that we'd all like to get
    It's all just overpriced crap bought off the internet.
  20. The Deer Hunter

    The Deer Hunter Senior Member

    Aug 20, 2006
    Chairborne HQ, MA :(
    Gun shows are really only good for hard to find stuff and looking at guns you can't afford. It's actually a great place to see how guns fit and stuff, but not actually buy them. Also don't listen to a word any vendor has to say.

    Good place to get military surplus things like stripper clips and ammo. Ammo is usually overpriced and the only surplus non corrosive I've ever seen (if you know what I mean...).

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