My First Gun Show (What to expect)

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Valko, Aug 24, 2019.

  1. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    DFW (formerly Brazos County), Texas
    Shows vary by venue (and by State), each one can be a bit different.

    If you have never been to a venue, find a quiet spot by the entry door, and scope the layout first.
    Usually, the tables are laid out is a semi-logical grid (barring the odd-shaped venue, like a VFW, or the Reliant Hall in Houston o_O). Starting at one end and working to the other saves retracing steps. Look for signs and/or lables for the aisles and rows (these are handy for finding a table again)
    If the show is large, call that more than 500-600 tables, I try to start at the furthest spot from the entry door and work back to the exit.

    Keep an eye out for things like a shoe-shine stand, this can give you a nice break to sit down and relax a bit.

    Watch for ATM machines, too. Sometimes these are in the entry lobby, so you might need a stamp, sometimes they are in the venue. Be prepared to fork over for the privilege to get cash (I know of a show where the fee is $5 to make a withdrawal).

    If the show is large, 750-1000 tables, if you find a cool buy, get it then, as it will not be there if/when you get back to it (unless it is a specialized/niche unicorn that only you will recognize (this is where having done your research first comes to your advantage).

    If you go with a buddy, or a group, please, please, please, do not come to a dead stop in the middle of the aisle to gab. You want to keep your situational awareness, and few enough will around you. (Side note, we share a fascinating and wonderful and varied community here, but we seem to not be able to park our vehicles any better than a bunch of inebriated pigs in heat.)

    A "possibles" bag or backpack--as noted above--can be nearly essential. I use a musette back with a shoulder strap. Which has a number of "bits" hung off of it, one of which is a pocket to stach sunglasses. It also has some straps to cinch up and stow a coat or raingear, as those are seldom needed indoors.

    Oh, and if you get heavy Items, ask--nicely--if the dealer will hold them for you until you leave. Unless you like the idea of toting heavy objects up and down aisles.

    A note on show organization. The show organizers charge the vendors more to be in close to the entry/exit doors. The cheapest tables to rent are in the very back and at the edges. This why you will find the salt lamp, salsa, and roasted nut vendors back there. You often will find better deals back there, too. And more private sellers (if your State--or the show--allows that).
    theotherwaldo and MosinT53Hunter like this.

    OARNGESI Member

    Sep 9, 2011
    Expect most to be over priced boring Glocks and tactical accessories then you’ll see the nazi paraphernalia not sure why it’s so common but there at every show. Then bring cash I like to separate into separate pockets so you don’t feel dumb haggling over a couple dollars then pull out a wad of cash. Also go for the show with no expectations but be ready to snag a deal if it comes up. But in all honesty I hardly go to shows unless I want out of the house most deals will be found online anymore.
  3. MosinT53Hunter

    MosinT53Hunter Member

    Dec 15, 2016
    There is always lots of "Nazi" stuff at those, and "Ultra Rare" things too. You listen to one story, you have heard them all.
  4. George P

    George P Member

    Jan 10, 2018
    When I knew I was going to be buying a lot of heavy items like 6250 round cases of .22lr ammo or multiple sleeves of primers, I have brought my own handtruck with me. I go get those things first, take them back to my vehicles and leave the handtruck there. Then I go back in for the "treasure hunt"
    NIGHTLORD40K likes this.
  5. lionking

    lionking Member

    Jul 6, 2006
    Table had new Glock Gen 5 G17 or G19 for $550.00 , $600 is the norm around where I am.

    Didn't see guns I was looking for, but got some ammo and ammo cans and a Vortex Spitfire 3x optic. The show gave me a chance to check out Vortex and a Primary Arms optic (both ACOG clones) together on one table I didn't like the Primary arms. The Vortex Crossfire scope is nice also.

    The surplus guy that I have bought from many times had a nice Enfield N04 MK1 and a nice 1900 Carl Gustav Swedish mauser at his stand I almost bought the mauser but I have been spending too much lately and held back, I already have four Swedish mausers anyway.

    Wanted to check out a Cugir Romanian WASR-10 AK, nobody had one just American made AK's for sale. Nobody had a new Inland commercial carbine also, wanted to check one out. No one had any Yugo Tokarev either, thinking about getting one.

    I didn't see a Mosin 91/30 for under $400 lol

    There was some decent deals on ammo and gun cases and stuff though.

    One thing I hate about shows though, the crowds, bumping into people, I get a little anxiety panic attacks sometimes in small spaces with crowds like that. I need my space.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
    NIGHTLORD40K likes this.
  6. Basura Blanca

    Basura Blanca Member

    Jul 14, 2004
    I always look for good deals on loopholes.
    Texas10mm likes this.
  7. Bottom Gun

    Bottom Gun Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Elgin, Arizona
    Take cash.

    Walk through the show noting items of interest before buying anything. Many times you will find the same items for less a few tables away. Once you walk through, go back to look at and/or buy the items with the best prices.

    Ask permission before handling ANYTHING.

    Do your homework. Most items will be overpriced.

    Be prepared to make close contact with people lacking basic personal hygiene.
  8. Catman42

    Catman42 Member

    Aug 18, 2019
    i regret that i didnt buy a like new remington .22 made in the 20/s or 30/s that was the same model i grew up with that saw its last days. the man who had it for sale was one of the good ones their.
  9. Eddietruett

    Eddietruett Member

    Jan 7, 2018
    That's a great point. When I'm buying, I try to be friendly and have fun. If a seller wants more than I'm willing to pay, it doesn't piss me off in the least. He has his value and I have mine. If it doesn't work for each of us, then as you said, its not the only one ever made. I hate it, whether I'm selling or buying and we can't get together and the other party gets pissed or starts being an ass. At that point, there is no going back and there won't be a deal made on my part even if the other party was to come back to my terms. Its supposed to be a fun outing and there is no reason for anyone to get mad, but it happens. If someone doesn't want to pay me what I think is a fair price, then it doesn't make me mad nor hurt my little feelings. I'm not going to let some jerk (usually not educated as far as guns) ruin my day. I have 2 ex wives just sitting and waiting if I need that to happen!!
    Ignition Override and Skylerbone like this.
  10. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Member

    Sep 15, 2007
    The Mid-South.
    Valko: Caution. Maybe you've thought about this: Don't carry any 'pack' or gun case from a gun show to your car, and immed. return to the show.
    Sometimes a seller is willing to keep a gun you bought under his/her table until you return. Or you simply carry it around the show.

    Even a vendor's car was broken into within a short distance from the front entrance of the Germantown TN show.

    Eddietruett: That's funny, that the other person, in what Could have become a possible deal, gets upset over chicken s**t just like a wife.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  11. FlSwampRat

    FlSwampRat Member

    Feb 1, 2019
    Broward County, Fl
    First off... ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ What he said.^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Secondly, and this may sound dumb, but don't buy anything right away, unless it is an incredible deal. Bring your smart phone, check internet prices (+shipping and ffl transfer fees for comparison.) Remember that it's often worth paying a bit more for something you have handled and examined.

    Also, hit every place in your neighborhood that sells guns, see who is selling what, what their attitude is like and so on. After all, a gun show is nice, but it's there only irregularly and that LGS or pawnshop will be there tomorrow, next week, etc. They want to establish a business relationship with folks and can be a good place to both shop and get advice.
  12. FlSwampRat

    FlSwampRat Member

    Feb 1, 2019
    Broward County, Fl
    Oh, man, the jerky! I've spent more at that table than any other.
    Then there are the other tables that sell memorabilia and firearms related things that can be unique to a gunshow. I bought a golf ball display case at a craft store and am slowly filling it with small caliber ammo boxes, most of which are empty.
    There's a lot of facets to firearms as a hobby, not just shooting itself.
  13. Meeks36

    Meeks36 Member

    Jun 9, 2019
    If you take your wife or daughter prepare to spend money on soap. My daughter got $20 worth. Have to admit it smells nice.
    George P likes this.
  14. Keith G

    Keith G Member

    Nov 3, 2018
    Retail prices, good beef jerky and good people watching.
  15. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

    Mar 30, 2008
    In the Wild Horse Desert of Texas
    Went to one about a week ago - we only get six shows per year down here on the border.
    I went in looking for milsurps and ammo for some of my odder guns.
    No intact milsurps for going prices - almost none at all. Lots of new black plastic at or above MSRP, though.
    No decent obscure ammo that was less than half a century old. Skip that.
    Found a CVA Mountain Pistol in .50 that looked unfired. Seller said $125. I offered $100.

    I hope that your trip was as pleasant as mine.
    Shanghai McCoy likes this.
  16. OneFreeTexan

    OneFreeTexan Member

    Aug 7, 2004
    Just a story,,, Went to a series of gun shows year ago...back when you could buy an Enfield for $100. A guy had three of them in real good condition,, sitting on a nice display rack...they were price $375 each,,He didn’t care to sell, just wanted to chat....went a couple years ago,, he had only two, priced at $1000, Asked him what happened to the third one......somebody bought it before he got smart and raised the prices, kind sad.
    Another dealer always had some $75. 22 rifles, bought one from him every time,,,He got sick at a show once, closed his booth early,,,then closed his business. Too bad, he was heckva nice guy,
    MosinT53Hunter likes this.
  17. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

    May 1, 2013
    Bring cash for parking. Last few gun shows I went to weren't worth going to for the selection.
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