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Gun Show Advice

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by 45R, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. 45R

    45R Well-Known Member

    Going to the Cal Expo (Sacramento, CA) Gun Show this weekend. I was wondering if you guys had any advice to a show newbie. What to look for in trades, what to stay away from, what ammo to buy or not buy etc. Your opinions are very appreciated.


  2. PATH

    PATH Well-Known Member

    Caveat emptor! If it looks too good a deal to be true then it probably is.

    Do a little research on items you may want to look for. Ask around about prices before you go. Do your homework. I think most folks are decent but you have the few that give everyone else a bad name.

    Most of all......enjoy yourself!
  3. stans

    stans Well-Known Member

    Before going to a gunshow, know what you want to buy and what it would cost at your local gunshop or through a mail order house. Good deals can be had at gunshows, but you can also get ripped off. Knowledge is power and proper planning prevents poor performance. You must go with a plan, otherwise you may come home with a nickel plated Smith & Wesson 29-3 or a Colt Delta Elite Stainless that you had not planned on buying!!!!
  4. AZTOY

    AZTOY Well-Known Member

    Also if you see something you want . Do not buy it right away . Walk around the show first and see if you see the same thing cheaper. Show's can have 20 dealer's selling the samething.
  5. telewinz

    telewinz Well-Known Member

    You need to have an idea what you want and then a reasonable price you are willing to spend. Just assume the guns at the show are over-priced by 25-30% to start with or worse. My experience has been that most dealers just want to do business with "suckers" and conduct thenselves accordingly. Gunshows are a great dumping ground for white elephants and slow moving merchandize, go to the bigger shows they tend to have more competitionin pricing. Deal with private collectors if possible (rare breed anymore at the shows) their prices tend to be better but buyer beware still applies.
  6. MountainPeak

    MountainPeak Well-Known Member

    I agree with the previous posts. Some people are down on shows, but once in a while a great deal still can be found. Check out prices in firearms you are interested locally. I personally think an investment in "The Blue Book of Gun Values" gives you a good starting point. My recent experience has been that gun show prices usually exceed the "Blue Books" prices. Don't be afraid to make an offer that is low ball. Occasionally you might just walk away with a good buy. Buy yourself a bore light, and reading glasses if you need them. Don't be afraid to ask them to remove a safety tie to check the action, trigger etc.. Some sellers are rip off artists, but some may be selling to reduce a collection and really don't want to take their guns back home.
  7. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

    In Alaska its always...same stuff, different table!:neener:
  8. SouthpawShootr

    SouthpawShootr Well-Known Member

    I don't trade guns. Don't have the knack for it and it really is an art. Case the whole show before you buy anything, even if the first table has exactly what you want (this doesn't necessarily apply to rare pieces with collector interest). As far as ammo goes, don't buy any reloads. Only get stuff that is packaged in original manufacturer's packing. Your guns will thank you. I stay away from Wolf ammo as a rule, primarily because the steel cases are hard on extractors. If you shoot AR-15s you can mess up the chamber shooting laquer sealed ammo (this isn't so bad with military barrels but with match grade barrels, it makes a mess).
  9. enfwago

    enfwago Well-Known Member

    I would check out what the local shops are selling for, then go from table to table to find the best deal.
  10. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Well-Known Member

    All good points. I'd add that, if you're looking for something collectible, make sure you know how to tell a parts gun from the real thing. I got stung once, but once was all it took.
  11. Redlg155

    Redlg155 Well-Known Member

    Some Rules I always use.

    1. Know what the max you will pay for the weapon and stick to your limit.

    2. Research your weapon choice.You need to know what is legal and what isn't if you are into military style semi auto weapons. If you are into pre ban AR15s make sure you are armed with a serial # cutoff list. You can get one over at AR15.com. Many a dealer has sold a post ban AR or AK fitted with pre ban parts. In the end you will get stuck with the rap even if the dealer sold you an "Illegal" weapon.

    3. Pre Ban pistols are a marketing ploy to elevate the price. You can put pre ban mags in a post ban manufactured weapon. Why pay the price of a new gun or more for a used pistol when you can buy a new one that does exactly the same thing for the same price or less?

    4. Never buy at the first table you see unless it is a very rare item. You most likely will find many more of the same weapon around the show unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt it is a super deal. I've kicked myself many a time for not following this rule! Also, make sure you look closely at every table. I've found little gems on tables that were dedicated to other items, such as swords and war memorabilia.

    5. Use time to your advantage. Lets say you want a CETME, a fairly common weapon these days at gunshows. The chances of them selling every single one is pretty remote. Wait until the last 2 hours or so and make your final offer. In most cases the dealers would rather sell and make less of a profit than hold onto it and drag it to another show. This is especially true for out of state dealers.

    Hope that helps some.

    Good SHooting
  12. Greybeard

    Greybeard Well-Known Member

    At least the show I commonly attend at Dallas Market Hall (got one this weekend!) must be a little different than some described elsewhere. It has a decent number of major dealers whose prices are very competitive initially and they have virtually no "dicker room". They even have firm upcharges for credit card purchases. On new handguns, prices sometimes $10 or so less than when on shelf in their retail store.

    On the other hand, there are still some tables where there may be, shall we say, questionable ethics ...

    Like others have said, it is generally not a good idea to buy the first thing that jumps out at you. Take a pen and paper and be prepared to take some notes, then if planning to spend big bucks, go back and talk at applicable tables. If dealer does see that you've got comparative pricing in hand and has any "dicker room" (and you have cash!), he'll be more inclined to believe you are serious.

    Ditto on taking notes if planning to buy ammo. But ... unless it appears they may sell out of what you want, save the heavy ammo purchase until the VERY LAST item before you hit the door.
  13. Kevinch

    Kevinch Well-Known Member

    her's what I think is important:
    • Do your homework. Know what a good deal is before you get there.
    • Don't be afraid to haggle.
    • Be prepared to buy if the right deal comes along.

    In all the years I've been going to gunshows (over a decade), I've only bought 1 gun - & that was from a local dealer whom I knew very well by visiting his store on a regular basis. The popular mis-conception is that guns are priced low at shows.

    They aren't.

    These guys have retail stores, & have to pay for the table space at shows, not to mention additional sales personnel to man both locations - at least on Saturday. If you regularly buy from a dealer that is competitive, he probably doesn't have too much of a markup on his product when you finally reach your price anyway, so he won't be dropping it too much.

    The real advantage to a show is being able to look over a slew of product without having to drive all over the county. I've also bought a lot of ammuntion & cleaning supplies at big shows - the selection is good.

    For the first time, I'd choose one or 2 guns I'm interested in & do a lot of research prior to attending the show. Look on the internet at the classifieds & at the auction sites - but pay attention to the closed auctions that resulted in a sale. Also, cruise the local gun shops & note pricing. Ask on boards such as this what a good price might be, along with the other boards - such as the S&W Forum, Ruger Forum, etc. Then go to the show & see what you can find!
  14. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Well-Known Member

    You are going to a good show!

    Advice: Once in, take a quick walk around (that's not really possible!) to get a quick idea of the layout and location of whatever your interest is in. Things I look for: Major dealers in name brand discount ammo. Reloading supplies and components. Individuals selling out their personal stuff. Toilet and food locations. Gun case and target dealers. "Tetra-Gun" oil and grease (the very best there is!). And guns in general...:D
  15. Forseti

    Forseti Well-Known Member

    I have gotten *very* good prices at shows. If you are really shopping for something, go early...at opening if possible. Dealers will have their largest selection early. It gives you the chance others have mentioned, that is, scope out the selection and prices at the entire show from all dealers prior to buying.

    Be an informed buyer...you should, if possible, know what you want before you go in. Use rental ranges, forums, and any other media you can to research what you want. Then consider each source of info, and use common sense to filter it...everybody has opinions and facts...some of them are not what I would consider good advice...some is excellent. Experience will allow you to separate the two.

    Manipulate and "play" with whatever you are considering purchasing (within reason...I ask the dealer for permission to dry fire a weapon if I want to feel the trigger before I do it). Politeness goes a long way at the show. (or anywhere else, really....)
  16. 454c

    454c Well-Known Member

    Lots of good tips have been mentioned.The one that saved me some cussing is to get a book that shows gun values.It can save you if you run across a gun you hadn't planned on getting but would sure like to it out.
  17. JohnBT

    JohnBT Well-Known Member

    I've been going to gun shows for a long time and could never figure out the guys who had the same overpriced high quality guns on the tables year after year. You know the tables. They have signs that say don't touch the guns and the vendors are sitting back from the tables chatting with each other. Maybe they just like traveling and getting away from home. I never could tell what they were up to and never bothered to ask. I just knew that they were asking way over Blue Book for everything.

    Recently J Belk, a gunsmith who posts on the riflesmithing forum at HuntAmerica.com, posted the info that answered my nagging question. He said the the overpriced guns are BAIT to entice people to go home and bring in their old guns thinking that they're worth a whole bunch of bucks. Then the table owner can start pointing out flaws in the gun or guns and driving the purchase price down.

    They buy tables at shows to acquire guns. They trade with other dealers and if they happen to sell one to somebody like me at a sucker's price that's okay too.

    Thank you Mr. Belk.

  18. Sisco

    Sisco Well-Known Member

    Ohboy! I've been waiting for a chance to post this!

    Gun shows are run by and for dreamers. Every dealer who sets up a table seems to think that the people who attend are half-wits who will happily pay 25% more than manufacturer's suggested retail price for their goods; and all the attendees hold it as an article of faith that the exhibitors are desperate men who have come in the hopes of finally disposing of their stock at 30% less than wholesale cost. In this environment it helps to have some idea what to expect; so for the benefit of those who are so unfortunate as never to have experienced this distinctively American form of mass entertainment, I offer this guide.

    The following terms apply to items offered for sale:

    MINT CONDITION: In original condition as manufactured, unfired, and preferably in the original box with all manufacturer's tags, labels, and paperwork.

    NEAR-MINT CONDITION: Has had no more than 5,000 rounds fired through it and it still retains at least 60% of the original finish. Surface pitting is no more than 1/8" deep, and both grip panels are in place. If it is a .22, some of the rifling is still visible.

    VERY GOOD: Non-functional when you buy it, but you can probably get it to work if you replace 100% of the parts.

    FAIR: Rusted into a solid mass with a shape vaguely reminscent of a firearm.

    TIGHT: In revolvers, the cylinder swings out, but you need two hands to close it again. For autoloaders, you must bang the front of the slide on a table to push it back.

    REALLY TIGHT: In revolvers you cannot open the cylinder without a lever. Once it's open the extractor rod gets stuck halfway through its travel. On autoloaders, you need a hammer to close the slide.

    A LITTLE LOOSE: In revolvers, the cylinder falls out and the chambers are 1/4" out of line when locked up. There is no more than 1/2" of end play. For autoloaders, the barrel falls out when the slide is retracted. If the barrel stays in place, the slide falls off.

    GOOD BORE: You can tell it was once rifled and even approximately how many grooves there were.

    FAIR BORE: Would be similar to GOOD BORE, if you could see light through it.

    NEEDS A LITTLE WORK: May function sometimes if you have a gunsmith replace minor parts, such as the bolt, cylinder, or barrel.

    ARSENAL RECONDITIONED: I cleaned it up with a wire wheel and some stuff I bought at K-Mart.

    ANTIQUE: I found it in a barn, and I think it dates from before 1960. Note that ANTIQUE guns are usually found in FAIR condition.

    RARE VARIANT: No more than 500,000 of this model were ever made, not counting the ones produced before serial numbers were required. RARE VARIANTS command a premium price of 150% of BOOK VALUE.

    BOOK VALUE: An irrational number which dealers consider insultingly low and buyers ridiculously high. Since no one pays any attention to it, it doesn't matter.

    IT BELONGED TO MY GRANDFATHER: I bought it at a flea market two weeks ago.

    CIVIL WAR RELIC: The vendor's great-grandfather knew a man whose friend had been in the Civil War.

    SHOOTS REAL GOOD: For rifles, this means at 100 yards it will put every shot into a 14" circle if there isn't any wind and you're using a machine rest. For handguns, three out of six rounds will impact a silhouette target at seven yards. In shotguns, it means that the full choke tube throws 60% patterns with holes no bigger than 8" in them.

    ON CONSIGNMENT: The vendor at the show does not own the gun. It belongs to a friend, customer, or business associate, and he has been instructed to sell it, for which he will be paid a commission. He has no authority to discuss price. The price marked is 150% above BOOK VALUE. All used guns offered for sale at gun shows, without exception, are ON CONSIGNMENT, and the dealer is required by his Code of Ethics to tell you this as soon as you ask the price. A BATF study has proven that since 1934 there has never been a single authenticated case of a used gun being offered for sale at a gun show that was actually owned by the dealer showing it.

    I'LL LET IT GO FOR WHAT I HAVE IN IT: I'll settle for what I paid for it plus a 250% profit.

    MAKE ME AN OFFER: How dumb are you?

    TELL ME HOW MUCH IT'S WORTH TO YOU: I'll bet you're even dumber than you look.


    RAMBO: He's looking for an Ingram MAC-10, and wants to have it custom chambered in .44 Magnum as a back-up gun. For primary carry he wants a Desert Eagle, provided he can get it custom chambered in .50 BMG. He derides the .50 Action Express as a wimp round designed for ladies' pocket pistols. He has already bought three years' worth of freeze- dried MRE's from MARK, as well as seven knives. He is dressed in camoflage BDU's and a black T-shirt with the 101st AirBorne Division insignia, though he has never been in the Army. He works as a bag boy at Kroger's.

    BUBBA: He needs some money, and has reluctantly decided to sell his Daddy's .30-30, a Marlin 336 made in 1961. He indignantly refuses all cash offers below his asking price of $475. Unable to sell it, eventually he trades it plus another $175 for a new-in-box H&R Topper in .219 Zipper. He feels pretty good about the deal.

    GORDON: He is walking the aisles with a Remington Model 700 ADL in .30-06 on his shoulder. He's put an Uncle Mike's cordura sling and a Tasco 3x9 variable scope on it. A small stick protrudes from the barrel, bearing the words, "LIKE NEW ONLY THREE BOXES SHELLS FIRED $800." This is his third trip to a show with this particular rifle, which he has never actually used, since he lives in a shotgun-only area for deer.

    DAWN: She is here with her boyfriend, DARRYL. At the last show, DARRYL bought her a Taurus Model 66 in .357 Magnum. She fired it twice and is afraid of it, but she keeps it in a box on the top shelf of her clothes closet in case someone breaks in. She is dressed in a pair of blue jeans that came out of a spray can, a "Soldier of Fortune" T-shirt two sizes too small, and 4" high heels. DARRYL is ignoring her, but nobody else is.

    DARRYL: He has been engaged to DAWN for three years. He likes shotguns for defense, and he's frustrated that he can't get a Street Sweeper, so he's bought a Mossberg 500 with the 18-1/2" barrel, a perforated handguard, and a pistol grip. He plans to use it for squirrel hunting when he isn't sleeping with it. He plans to marry DAWN as soon as he gets a job which pays him enough to take over the payments on her mobile home.

    ARNOLD: He is a car salesman in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has a passion for Civil War guns, especially cap-and-ball revolvers. He has a reproduction Remington 1858, and is looking for a real one he can afford. He owns two other guns: a S&W Model 60 and a Sauer & Sohn drilling his father brought home from the war in 1945. He has no idea what caliber the rifle barrel on his drilling is, and he last fired the Model 60 five years ago.

    DICK: He is a gun dealer who makes his overhead selling Jennings J- 25's, Lorcin .380's, and H&R top-break revolvers. He buys the J-25's in lots of 1000 direct from the factory at $28.75 each, and sells them for $68.00 to gun show customers. He buys the H&R's for $10 at estate auctions and asks $85 for them, letting you talk him down to $78 when he is feeling generous. His records are meticulously kept, and he insists on proper ID and a signature on the 4473. He doesn't care whether the ID and the signature are yours, however. Other than his stock, he owns no guns and he has no interest in them.

    ARLENE: She is DICK's wife. She hates guns and gun shows more than anything in the world. Her husband insists that she accompany him to keep an eye on the table when he's dickering or has to go to the men's room. She refuses to come unless she can bring her SONY portable TV, even though she gets lousy reception in the Civic Center and there isn't any cable. When DICK is away from the table, she has no authority to negotiate, and demands full asking price for everything. She doesn't know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun, and she doesn't care, either.

    MARK: He doesn't have an FFL. He buys a table at the show to sell nylon holsters, magazines, T-shirts, bumber stickers, fake Nazi regalia, surplus web gear, MRE's and accessories. He makes more money than anyone else in the hall.

    ALAN: He's not a dealer, but he had a bunch of odds and ends to dispose of, so he bought a table. On it he displays used loading dies in 7,65 Belgian and .25-20, both in boxes from the original Herter's company. He also has a half-box of .38-55 cartrdiges, a Western-style gun belt he hasn't been able to wear since 1978, a used cleaning kit, and a nickel-plated Iver Johnson Premier revolver in .32 S&W. He's asking $125 for the gun and $40 for each of the die sets. He paid $35 for the table and figures he needs to get at least that much to cover his expenses and the value of his time.

    GERALD: He's a physician specializing in diseases of the rich. He collects Brownings, and specializes in High-Power pistols, Superposed shotguns, and Model 1900's. He has 98% of the known variations of each of these, and now plans to branch out into the 1906 and 1910 pocket pistols. He owns no handguns made after the Germans left Liege in 1944. He regards Japanese-made "Brownings" as a personal insult and is a little contempuous of Inglis-made High-Powers. He does not hunt or shoot. He buys all his gun accessories from Orvis and Dunn's.

    KEVIN: He is 13, and this is his first gun show. His eyes are bugged out with amazement, and he wonders what his J.C. Higgins single-shot 20-gauge is worth. His father gives him an advance on his allowance do he can buy a used Remington Nylon 66. He's hooked for life and will end up on the NRA's Board of Directors
  19. para.2

    para.2 Well-Known Member

    It's all been said before, but I'll get my licks in on this dead horsie...
  20. Ebbtide

    Ebbtide Well-Known Member

    ...more if you are looking for beef jerky:D

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