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Thread: First Gun show... Not terribly impressed

  1. #41
    Boolit Master
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    We have several gunshows a year, probably would be considered small by most standards.
    5 bucks to get in, no charge for parking, about as cheap of entertainment as you could find anywhere.
    I go for the entertainment, but don't pass up deals when I see one either. Usually around half of the tables are private sellers, the rest dealers and a few non gun dealers of one kind or other. I just walk by pretty much all the dealers, I do check out what a couple of custom knife makers have on hand.
    It is the private guys that I check out the most, and generally find a deal at if one is to be had.
    It is generally slow as far as castuing goes, as in pretty much non existant, some reloading equipment can be found at times.

  2. #42
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    Shows in my area run 7-10 dollar cover - I look at it as paying to exercise, kinda like the wife going to the mall. Will go from 50 to 150 miles away to some, we make a day of it - do some antiquing on the way home, and always looking for BBQ ! Have found some deals, usually from individuals(still in a free state) - usually buy a few raffle tickets from different groups(and yeah, I have won some guns !). Sometimes pass by a flea market/yard sale and have made some scores there as well. The bride enjoys it(and it is true some shows have as much jewelry and coins as gun stuff) so it's just good family time for us. Hope to be taking the grandson along to some soon !

  3. #43
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonp View Post
    I found the large gunshows here in NC to be a good place to compare, pick up and handle and generally inspect firearms side by side all in one place. You thinking of a new 9mm carry then everything you can think of is pretty much represented. If your expecting a deal your going to be disappointed. Still, prices are no more than any LGS charges.

    Lot's of powder with one guy in particular, Blue Collar Reloading, that did not raise his prices during the shortage at all. When others were charging $225 and up for an 8lb of Unique his was still about $150. I make it a point to buy some primers and powder from him every show.
    When I speak to them I always get the sense that the woman owns Blue Collar Reloading, not sure why. Either way, good people and good prices, got 20# of Trailboss from them in CLT.

  4. #44
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    The same promoter (ECA) runs all the gunshows within 100 miles of here...same dealers, same prices, same junk, week after week. We use to have a couple of local 'club-type' shows but ECA deliberately scheduled their bigger, commercial shows to conflict with them and drew off most of the dealers.

    Bill
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  5. #45
    Boolit Master

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    Anymore, I only go to shop for potholders and scented candles at the tables waaaaaay in the back.
    ..

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beerd View Post
    Anymore, I only go to shop for potholders and scented candles at the tables waaaaaay in the back.
    ..
    Ha, last one i went to, I only bought a bag of hot pigskins

  7. #47
    Boolit Master

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    One tip: If you find something you want, do NOT tell yourself you'll come back later and get it at a lower price. Any time I've done that, it was gone when I went back.
    That's for sure. More than once over the years I've seen something for a price that's nearly too good to be true. It's always when I've gone to a show with the firm thought in mind that I am going for entertainment only, have absolutely NOTHING that I need, and have NO intention of spending any money. That's when I see something cool at a great price, hesitate and walk away, only to change my mind and turn around five minutes later to see someone else walking off with it.

    The last one a year or two ago was an older 4x Leupold scope for $50. Someone had painted it camo so it wasn't easily recognized. I hesitated and set it back down. I wasn't even five feet away when the next guy along grabbed it while grabbing his wallet. No worries; it would have been perfect for one of my .22 rifles but I really didn't need it, and the next guy got a great deal. Could be he needed it more than I did.

    There's a really good gun show coming up next weekend that I'm looking forward to attending- the ARPC gun club show. It's usually about the best one in the state. I don't make it to more than two or three a year anymore so this one should be fun.

  8. #48
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    One tip: If you find something you want, do NOT tell yourself you'll come back later and get it at a lower price. Any time I've done that, it was gone when I went back.
    Well, I suppose that's true most of the time...I have a couple exceptions to that rule. Now both of these were at the one show I work, so I was there all weekend.
    One was a Ruger #3 in 22 hornet (about 9 or 10 years ago, before Obama anyway). The seller (private collector like myself) had $600 firm on it. I eyed it friday night. I handled it saturday (several times) Saturday eve, right before close, I offered $500, he said he was firm. All day Sunday it was haunting me, but it didn't sell. Sunday as we're packing up, he offers it to me for $550. I stand firm on my $500 offer. an hour later, I'm still packing up. He had left, then came back...drove up to my car as I was putting the last of in. And said, kind of cranky like "OK $500, it better be cash"...then I find out his wife was crankin' on him to sell it to me...needed $$$ for bills I guess?

    another one (a few years later), was a Ruger Redhawk 41 mag 7.5" SS, marked $475.
    I let that one sit on the table all weekend as well, Sunday night during packup, I offer him $425..Bing Boom SOLD.

  9. #49
    Boolit Master

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    Generally, I don't mind when that happens anymore. I'll go along the tables and think, "Wow; that's a great price on that. But I already have one." Or "Hey; that's the cheapest I've ever seen one of those. I'd get it, but it's not in my line." Or "Gee; I'd snap that up in a heartbeat, but I need another project like a hole in the head." And the next pass along those tables and whatever-it-is is gone.

    I feel like the big-game guide who knows he can show a client a trophy moose any time he wants. I don't know if there is such a thing as a Gun Show shopping consultant, but maybe I ought to get some business cards printed up.

    The things I want I either dive on immediately or walk through the whole show, figuring if I get it on the way out, fine; if not, que sera, sera. Gives the Show a certain extra "zest."

  10. #50
    Boolit Master
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    I've been to only a few. A small town gun show is where I found my revolver for a fair price. The really interesting one I went to though was one that was sponsored by a gun collector's society. That was really big and a lot of older guns and (to a lesser extent) casting equipment. Not many in the under thirty crowd but lots to see. I did buy a micrometer there but that's all. Well worth the admission price but no real deals, but I got to find out how some guns I'm considering felt, got to see how a tang aperture looked, and talk with a couple of castors, and learned not to buy the lyman cast iron lead pot and instead go with a rusted out frying pan. But check to see if there is a collecting society near you, I was really impressed by that gun show.

  11. #51
    Boolit Master Tenbender's Avatar
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    Gunshows here are good to show how high priced some people think there items are worth. How cheap they think yours are.

  12. #52
    Boolit Master historicfirearms's Avatar
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    I have a gun nut buddy that I like to go to shows with. We have been going to the same ones for years and have gotten to know most of the dealers. Most of the good deals are gone since the internet era. So fo fun we like to mess with the cut throat dealers. Sometimes we will bring in a really nice gun like a Python and let a dealer look at it. We will play dumb like it was dads gun and I really want a Glock or something stupid. Its funny the low ball offers you will get. Like the python plus $250 for the new glock. Ha ha. Good entertainment.
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  13. #53
    Boolit Master
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    Yup--It must come in the water here in Michigan. I once brought a 1938 Tangent and slotted Hi-power. I showed it to a dealer. He acted like he didnt even know what it was--said there were so many cheap gun companies that produced guns back in the day that it was hard to keep track. Sooo, he had a old homemade sawed off shotgun double that I asked him if he were interested in trading. He said he would have to have 200 cash plus the pistol to do the trade.

    I walked away and I then had two other dealers bumrush me letting me know they had shotguns to trade even up--mossberg 500s and such.

    In the gunshow world--It is about knowing more than the next guy. Which really makes the sleazy dealers hot. But........I am an addict, so I go pay my 5.00 and hope for the unrealized CASE knife in the "5.00 any knife bin".

  14. #54
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbender View Post
    Gunshows here are good to show how high priced some people think there items are worth. How cheap they think yours are.
    Isn't that the truth!

    What's it worth? Well, are you buying or selling? If you're buying, they got gold; that old pistol is a rare vintage piece with honest wear and a nice patina. If you're selling, it's just old and beat up, with a scratch here and a ding there, not much demand for those so they'll have trouble selling it...

    I understand a guy's got to make a profit, but some of those wheeler-dealer horse-traders really make an art out of "maximizing profit". I feel bad if I sell something and feel like the other guy didn't get a good value. Some of those guys really seem to get the warm-fuzzies when they take advantage of someone, the bigger the ripoff the happier they are with themselves. They're not all that way, by any means. There are lots of good folks at gun shows.

    Gun shows are a lot like garage sales. There seem to be two basic types of garage sales. The one type is someone just getting rid of their old stuff. You can find some bargains here. They price stuff to move and are more concerned about making it gone than making a buck.

    The other type is someone who thinks they're going to really make some extra cash by cleaning out the attic. They've watched too many episodes of "Antique Roadshow", and surf Ebay and Craigslist to price their valuables. No bargains here. I like the gun club shows because they seem to have more of the first type than the promoter shows. The promoter shows around here seem to have the same guys selling the same high-priced stuff just traveling a circuit week after week.

    That's funny about the old Hi-Power. I did see the opposite one time years ago at a show, though. I was talking to an old-timer at his table and a younger guy comes by with a Luger that he said had been his grandfather's. The vendor was honest with him and told him that it was worth more than he could afford to give him, told him he really should keep it because he'd regret selling it, and warned him not to take any low-ball offers from anyone else. As I recall he told the guy that if he was intent on selling it, to come back by with the best offer he had gotten, to see if he could do better. I was impressed by his honesty. No, I really don't know enough about Lugers to have a clue if it was anything special.

  15. #55
    Perma-Banned 54bore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adam_mac84 View Post
    I guess my expectations were a bit off. Lots of the stuff I saw pertaining to reloading was at or above retail (powder, primers brass). I did find a guy who does coated bullets 'online' that doesn't have a website for ~$31/500 (hitek), so that was a good contact. I had visions of finding people selling some cast stuff I could try out before plunking down on my first mold. I guess I will have to go to the FS/WTB section for that haha...


    I am thinking these gun shows are more for the oddball-obscura that you can't find anywhere but the internet (and/or you aren't an internet kind of person). Lots of cool old stuff to look at, but anything modern was full blown retail or higher. Fun experience overall. For $6 i will keep going back even if it is finding one new contact person each time.
    Exactly my experience with gun shows, the ones i have been to within reasonable distance, it's the same bunch of guys selling pretty much the same stuff at new prices, rarely find a good deal. I quit going to them unless i am looking for a specific hard to find item and willing to pay the price

  16. #56
    Boolit Master
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    I've found a few bargains at gun shows, but I've haunted a lot of shows over a lot of years and true bargains on an item you're interested in can be scarce. If you go with the expectation of getting a great deal on a particular item you're setting yourself up for disappointment. You have to keep an open mind. Finding a bargain at a gun show is kinda like lightning. You can't predict exactly when or where it will happen, but you can safely expect it will happen now and then.

    I look at gun shows as education. There are very few shows where I don't learn a few things. Sometimes I learn about guns, sometimes I learn about current price or market trends, sometimes I learn about human nature. When I see something new to me, something I don't know much about, I'll stop and talk to the dealer. They're usually happy to tell you everything you want to learn about the rare or unusual collectible on their table. Sometimes the stuff they tell you is true, sometimes maybe not so much. Either way I'm learning - about the gun or the dealer or both.

    I agree with some of the posters above that the best deals are often to be had before the show starts or just before it ends, but again there are exceptions. You never know when a "walking around" bargain will present itself, and many of my best gun show finds were being carried around by people who were looking to sell or trade. My Martini cadet came home with me that way. I inadvertently walked up to a conversation between the seller asking 200 and a dealer standing firm at 175. It was years ago and prices were lower then, but even so I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was all I could do to stand there quietly and pretend to examine the dreck on the table. When the seller walked away I followed like a hound on a rabbit trail, and that Cadet was mine for the 200 asking price.

    If you keep an open mind about what you're looking to buy you never know what you might find. Like a four-banger 452460 with handles in nice condition for fifty bucks. Yep - I really did score that at a local show. Or an RCBS JR press, 5-10 scale, a couple of loading blocks, a powder trickler, a powder funnel and a number 9 Speer manual - all in a cardboard box, all in nice shape and all for $35. I almost missed that one because I wasn't looking for reloading tools that day.

    You might even make a score on ammo, like a few hundred rounds of Czech 7.62 x 45 in the GI boxes on strippers for twenty cents a round. It was clean, little or no corrosion (which is becoming an issue due to the age of the remaining stock) and his asking price of fifty cents a round was actually pretty good. I think the seller was tired of explaining to the mall ninjas that it wouldn't fit in AKs. When I asked if he had room on his asking price he started to say "That's not what you think it is. It's not 7.62 x 39 and it won't..." and I said "I know what it is. What'll you take for the whole lot?" I got it all, and I got it for a bargain price.

    Like others have posted, I do get discouraged now and then. The shows in my area are all too often like those others here write about - the same guys offering the same over-priced dusty wares again and again and again. At least I don't have to pay for parking at any of the local shows, and admission fees are usually less than ten bucks. I don't even mind the "camo clad tacticoolians" and mall ninjas. They're usually young people and young people getting involved in shooting is a good thing, even if they think they have to dress like their favorite movie character.

    Between the educational opportunities and the "people watching" diversions, there's a lot of entertainment for less than ten bucks at a gun show.





    Uncle R.

  17. #57
    Boolit Master

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    My son and I had a great time at a gun show this morning. It was the best show I've been to in a long time, like the good ones I remember from long ago. I met up with some friends I hadn't seen in a long time, found some great deals on some old odds and ends, brass and such, and had a good day with my son. It doesn't get much better than that!

    I walked right by the hundreds of tables of tacticool stuff, row after row of new guns, and lots and lots of overpriced stuff, to find the worthwhile bargains nestled away here and there. I think anything I bought that was worthwhile was always from the club guys cleaning out their old stuff, not the circuit vendors (though they sometimes have good stuff).

    There's one guy who has been going to the shows around here who always has multiple tables loaded with big piles of old ammo and reloading gear, lots of old "estate" type stuff- old odds and ends, tattered bullet boxes, half full powder cans, ancient reloads, etc.. It always catches my attention because sometimes you can find really good stuff at that kind of table. I learned long ago to just walk on by. His prices are always off-the-wall high: new price for random old reloads, more than new price for used brass, $40 for that crumpled old cardboard can of Bullseye. I've always wondered how he stays in business; preying on suckers I guess.

  18. #58
    Boolit Buddy
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    I love gun shows. Yes way too much high prices stuff. But the bargains are there. I find the vendor that is big in one thing has odd and sods that he will sell cheap cause its not his main line. One guy in particular always seem to have a deal that I cant pass up, a nice old Ideal 55 measure for $5 buck and the last show he had 1000 6.5 mm ideal gas checks for $5 bucks as well. No dickering at those prices.
    As long as a guy knows his prices and the firearms he is dealing on I don't feel there is a lot of risk and its a fun way to spend a few hours. I would like to rent a table sometime at some shows just to be able to do the trades that go on long before the public get to come in.

  19. #59
    Boolit Master




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    Went to a big show here in Tucson yesterday, and wasn't impressed. Looking for powder & primers, and maybe casting stuff, and found ONE table that had a few powder containers, and NO primers. Ended up buying some toffee for $5... $4 to park, $11 entry, $20 all together. Bummer...
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  20. #60
    Boolit Master Doggonekid's Avatar
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    Last gun show I went to I bought a new pair of Levis and a loaf of bread. Most of the used guns were more money than a new one.
    "Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid." John Wayne

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
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GC Gas Check