If you have considerable knowledge of nearly everything gun related, you can find good deals amongst the masses of overpriced items. The key is having enough knowledge to recognize a "good deal" when you see it. If you are looking for something specific, don't expect to see a good deal; that's just Murphy's Law.
I'll slightly disagree with the others. During the main part of the show, they are right, but if you go just before it shuts down you can get some good deals. Either someone didn't sell enough to break even or they don't feel like loading up everything they brought. Main ones to avoid are the ones that do this as a hobby or business. Look for the people selling of their collections.
I have to disagree a little. If you like garish knives, anything Glock related, or a lot of black nylon tatical "stuff", M-16 parts and pieces, and sometimes war 'surplus, you will be in hog heaven.
Oops, forgot MREs and in some cases 'C' rations.
Things in short supply will go quickly on the first day. Best deals will happen near the end of the last day. If you are looking for something in particular, do your reasearch BEFORE you go and don't get caught up in the hoopla. Know what to look for in that gun, what the values are, current availability, particular nuances and models, etc....
MOST of the time, there's a lot of looking by those who are knowledgeable and a lot of buying by those who are not - and they'll pay more than they would have at other places....
If you're taking a gun to sell, know what it's worth. People buying guns want them for garage sale prices.....people selling guns want more than MSRP - that's true no matter which side of the table they're on
Gun shows are fun. I always enjoy looking things over. I rarely expect to buy anything. Every now and then I do but mainly I like to see what's there and BS with the sellers. I agree you have to plow through a lot of chaf to get at a good deal.
Maybe I was an idiot, but I was looking for a mossberg 500 for my brother in law. I'm a remington man and knew nothing of mossbergs. I went to my first gun show and asked a guy if I could take the barrel off and check out the insides. The guy flipped out when I asked and told me to look through the action....Lets just say I paid more from another booth, because that seller wasn't a jerk. So try and get a feel from the seller. Others I asked were real nice and let me thoroughly look through some guns. I had a good time but was amazed at how much AR stuff their was. I agree with most of the posts here...no real deals to be found, just a wide selection of used / unusual guns. Cabela's isn't really stocking M1 garands or pre '64 Winchester model 70's anymore. It never hurts to go the first day, find something you want, low ball the guy (relatively) and go back the last day and make another offer if it's still there. Because usually the guy will say "I know someone will pay more for it" and when it doesn't sell you can call him out on it . Have fun, look around, and if you don't buy anything, just browse and learn about the great history of firearms!
I went to the Gun Show today and it was different than I thought it would be. To me it appeared that all the guns were overpriced. They wanted 100 bucks more for the same shotgun I bought a month ago. Also now I know why Wal-Mart was out of ammo this week. It was all at the Gun Show ridiculously priced. I did buy a nice soft case for my shotgun and an ammo can. I also bought a boresnake and a 20 dollar holster for my 9mm. I was hoping to find some ammo, but I'm not going to over pay for it. My wife gave me the green light to buy another gun, but like I said earlier, they all seemed overpriced. It was worth the 7 dollar admission price to go and walk around for a couple of hours, but I only spent 100 bucks out of the $700 I brought with me. I think that is a first for me.
(1) With everyone hoarding ammunition and components I wouldn't expect to see any deals for those items.
(2) Good buys usually occur at the opening and closing of the show. Valued price items are the first to go. Dealers are more inclined to deal when they look at their bottom line at the end of the show.
(3) If you're expecting WallyMart prices on NonWallyMart goods you'll be disappointed. IF you want buys, dog rob a widow, a divorcee, the unemployed, an estate....
(4) You'll see much that doesn't interest you. I have no interest in purchasing a rifle, pistol, black gun paraphernalia or knives but someone there is.
(5) Expect items to be priced above BlueBook and expect seller to sell at BlueBook prices. For items not in the BlueBook, prices are what the market will bear. You'll see many a variation of 90%.
(6) Gun shows are great place to handle items you're interested in but have never held.
(7) Sometimes you get lucky and there are a number of same item you've been looking for.
(8) Sometimes you stumble on things that calls to you...
Earlier this year, I decided to sell some stuff (guns), so I got a table at a local show. Had too many that I wasn't shooting.
I went in with the strategy of SELLING.
I did some research at the local shops (to get a local, right here, value), and on the online sites, to get an idea of what current prices were. I put preliminary prices on them slightly BELOW what I thought was fair. Then I walked around the show, and noted any gun being sold that was the same as anything I had on my table. I repriced anything that had "competition" at the show, and made SURE that I was WELL under any other prices. Everything I had was $50 to $150 (!) less than anybody else's LOWEST prices. Even if you start off by thinking that some might've been high to start with, if somebody is beating a price by $100-150, you know the prices on my table were good.
By the middle of the second day, I had had enough of guys fingering everything, "Ya know.... I can get one of these for less money at another table...." (Uuhh, no, you can't. I checked. Every one of them, and was at least $50, and usually more, below ANY of them, on anything I had for sale), and then throwing out some ridiculously lowball offer. Did I look like a crack addict going through withdrawals, and that desperate for money for my next fix? I packed up and headed for the house. A couple of the "regular" dealers there kinda laughed, and told me that I was the only one smart enough to leave, and that I learned it after only one show!
I walked out convinced that 95% of the guys there had zero intentions of buying anything while they were there. Talking to other dealers and sellers, they told me that they see the same core group of faces, at every show in the region, and never ever see those guys drop a single dollar at a show. Gun shows have become a social event for many. Pay your $5 to get in, look for your gun show buddies, swap stories, talk about how there are no deals any more, and go get some lunch.
I think it all depends what your interests are. I've only been to a very few in my lifetime. Did pick up a few things that interested me both gun and ammo and non ammo related. The ones in my area are pretty much centered around military type arms and the goods that go along with it.
Though I have no interest in that and found them to be just something to go and walk around aimlessly, I must say they are a good thing and an eye opener. Meaning, I'm a hunter and clays shooter. The shows I 've been to were not related to that (I thought they may have been). But, it's great to see there is a huge following for another form of shooting. I never thought that the amount of guys and gals would be to that degree and we do have in common the rights we want to keep.
Here in PA we have a half decent Sportsman's Show and also one down in MD. At the bigger trap and skeet competitions around the area I can find exactly what I want on venders row. Heck, boils down to different strokes for different folks.
There is a bargin at every gun show, you just have to know what it is. It maynot be the cheapest gun in the show. Here's an example: a conse. numbered pair of 16ga Cogswell & Harrison sxs for $4000. Not the cheapest gun in the house, but a steal for these guns. gun shows are also an educational aide, talk to the dealers, most have a good imformation and will share, look at all the guns, you get to see alot of guns you won't see otherwise and just go look and have a good time.
if you are looking for unique, rare, hard to find guns, guns shows may be a good place to start your search. If you are looking for "everyday", "commonly found" guns that any dealer with half a brain can get, guns shows are to be avoided.
A lot of the guns I see at gun shows are used and battered versions, with the seller asking new-gun prices for them. One experience that really stands out was at a show in San Antonio; one fellow had a 12-ga American shotgun (a Parker, IIRC); both the barrels and the stock had been cut, and a very non-matching abortion/extension glued on to the end of the stock. Other than that, it was a decent (if plain) example. He wanted $6K for it and went out of his way to mention that offers below that would not be entertained. A few rows over, I met a nice gent with the same brand of gun, in 20 ga, barrels and stock unmolested. Much nicer shape in general, and much more and better engraving. He was asking $4100, and entertaining offers.
Now, I wasn't in the market, but if I had been, it doesn't take a "Norman Einstien" (as Joe Thiesman might say) to figure out which one would have gone home with me.
I went to a gun show yeaterday. I was about the sixth one through the door. I was looking for 10ga Bismuth ammo but found none. I saw a M12 20ga Winchester/Miroku that was NIB/old stock. I have several M12 repos so I ask the price. The seller, a gunshop that handles all types of hand guns and combat type stuff, told me that they wanted $525 for the gun. I bought it for $500 after inspection to confirm that it was actually in NIB condition. I was told that the gun was traded for a M14 and the shop could not sell "old fashioned" shotguns.
I think that I finally got a deal at a gun show. :wink:
How one interprets a gunshow depends on their field of interest. If you are into AR-15's you may come away happy but not so if you favor British side by sides. Remember that a lot of the bargains and collectible stuff disappear on the evening before the show, when the dealers are setting up and checking out other dealers inventory. To find any variety of quality stuff, you may need to go to a larger regional show. For instance, at most local shows you see few Colt Single Actions of any generation, whereas I went to a show in Vegas once and they were almost as plentiful as the cars in the parking lots. Rarely do I see many quality shotguns at the area shows. A lot of what you see is current manufacture, especially handguns. Prices I see are usually a little bit better than storefront dealers who complain that the gunshow dealers do not have their overhead. Incidentally, my nomination for worst case of gouging during the current ammo shortage was the guy who was selling 45 Long Colt Cowboy Action rounds for $80 per box of 50, two boxes for $159. I had to try hard to resist telling him what I thought of him. On the other hand, I have never wanted to get a table and spend two days listening to comments like, "I have one of those at home but mine is in better condition". Reminds me of a sign I once saw on a dealer's table at an antique show. It read, "The only one interested in what your grandmother had is your grandfather."
All of the above comments are true. I see one glaring ommision however.
alot of gun shows are "circut" affairs. you can go to ten diffrent shows within 100 miles or more and see the same vendors with the same guns. Sometimes those guns have just swaped tables.
Even though it takes time, a couple years even, if you find a dealer that has things that intrest you, build a relationship. Tell him your intrests find out his. Over time some pretty chice things could come your way.
I always love to read folks *****ing about gun shows. I have been to about 700 of them starting in the early 1970's. I keep going because I keep making money. Now I have more knowledge about more guns than most because I have collected about everything over the years. Sometimes a different sight or caliber makes the overpriced gun languishing on someone's table an absolute steal. Another time I got a rusted out Brit Webley 38 for $35. It wasn't rusted out, it was dead mint under a hardened coating of preservative. I saw an "original" Hawken with only one barrel lock and only 34 caliber. Everyone knew that was a fake. Everyone but me. I sold it the next week to a knowledgeable collector for twice the amount I paid for it ($20,000). I found a mint custom FN Supreme with custom trigger and exhibition myrtlewood stock plus dies for $400. It lasted the whole show until I found it on late Sunday. I sold it the next week for $1200 which was a lot under its true value. It was a 243 Rockchuker which may be why no one bought it.
One fellow had three pieces of wood on his table. Two were matched and "exhibition" by his words. They had absolutely plain grain which he thought of as perfect and he would not take a penny under $1200 for the pair (worth maybe $200 total). However, he had a feather/fiddle blank which he sold to me for $200 which I resold for $500 before I got back to my table.
Sometimes I help a dealer friend with his tables. He is a Colt/Winch expert. He sells about 100 guns at that particular Nevada show and buys about 100 guns at that show every time. He would not buy if he were not getting a good deal.
Now there are some shows which are dead and worthless, but you never know what is coming through the door or pulled out from under a table. Many shows are the same old stuff...we call those the I-5 corridor shows around here. Sometimes we go back East for an occasional Montana/Idaho/Colorado show to add spice.
However, the reason most people complain about shows is that they have no knowledge of collectables and are simply looking for a new, modern gun for a deal and good luck on that. I like looking for guns to customize and often find Sears Model 50 FN rifles or Rem 788's in the $150-225 range which I consider a good buy. The big dealers who own pawn shops often will give you a good deal when you offer a cash price.
If you have your own table, remember this question. If someone asks you if you will take a certain price for something, ask them if that is a question or an offer. If they run away, that question has been answered. Never underestimate the stupidity of the buyer (or seller).
Those gun buys from garage sales might be a good deal, but get a receipt and call them in so that you don't get a call from the cops later.
A slow gun show is better than going to the department store with your lady.
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