Skip to comments.A FIELD GUIDE TO GUN SHOWS
Posted on 07/11/2004 8:15:55 PM PDT by TexasCowboy
"Recently there have been some posts regarding information on gun shows, and how they are run and what to expect.
Gun shows are an old and honored American tradition. The basic idea; putting sellers, buyers, and stock in the same room and letting the Free Market Forces go to work is as old as commerce, but the American form of gun shows has evolved it's own manners, vocabulary, and etiquette.
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 summation of what I've learned from 30 years of show-going. I've included a glossary of terms you'll need to know; and an introduction to some of the people you'll meet.
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 reminiscent of a firearm.
TIGHT: In revolvers, the cylinder swings out, but you need both 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 it's 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 a 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, 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 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.
PEOPLE YOU WILL MEET AT THE GUN SHOW:
RAMBO: He's looking for an Ingram MAC-10, and he 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 camouflage 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 he 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 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 OF 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 ther 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's 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 payments on her mobil 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 and 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 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, bumper 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 cartridges, 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 contemptuous 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 so he can buy a used Remington Nylon 66.
He's hooked for life and will end up on the NRA's Board of Directors."
ROTFLMAO.........Sad but very true !
Stay safe !...I'm still reading !
I love guns, but I hate gun shows. The last one I went to (in Canada) had a good thick dusting of paranoid men, army crap, and cruddy old guns.
Give me a nice gun shop anyday. (The one nearest me is a gun shop/barber/bookstore! Result!)
I tend to agree.
I love to browse in big gun shops, but I drool all over the counters.
Anybody who has been to at least one gun show would know that the typical "I get my fashion tips from Snoop Dogg" hoodlum would stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Simply put, you've seen one gun show, you've seen 'em all...
What about this guy?
John-The French -looking Senator from Massachusetts who uses his wife's credit card to buy a Benneli to pose with for an A.P story so all the Rubes will think he is pro-2nd Amendment and vote for him.
Booo. You forgot the guy that is selling Pershing's rucksack. And old WW2 rucksack with the name Pershing on it, that of course belonged to the General Pershing and not Private Pershing.
Funny yet cynical analysis of Gunshows.
Strange how States with the most restrictive gun laws have the most gun violence. Hum.....
I just love the Dawn types at gun shows. They break up many a boring show. I had a Dawn/Darryl couple trade a $600 pistol for a $55 pistol straight across because she couldn't handle the 9mm GLOCK!!! I even told them that the trade was ridiculous. Dawn-Baby said "No Problem"! And so it was.
The last gun show I went to had an old Madsen 30-06 like one I had a long time ago and it was worth maybe $150. I figured if the guy would take $150 for it I would buy it. The loud-voiced dealer said he had taken it in "at an estate sale" and today, just this once, because he needed to pay the rent, he would let me have it for only $800.
I was stunned. After an uncomfortable silence, I started laughing. I really couldn't talk to this guy any more, so I just walked on down the aisle with a wave, the laughter getting more pronounced as I thought about his line. About halfway there I heard that loud voice booming out "I have the sling for it!". I tell you, that was more amusement than sitting in the balcony at a Michael Moore movie with a bag of pre-slobbered gummy bears.
I've seen Dawn's on both sides of the table. One dealer in holsters had a bunch of "Dawns" running around in Bikini's with every kind of thigh, belly, sholder, ankle , SOB, thunderwear holsters etc (except IWB as they had no IWB) and marsupial gun pouches/fanny packs known to mankind.
Other Dawns had so much cleavage that some got home to find they'd bought bag of beef jerky for 300 dollars . Lots of fun at these shows.......
Stay safe !
Mr. Sebring is a smartass-ish know-it-all.
Guns and gals kinda get the old testosterone flowing!
He shoots .50's.
That makes him an okay guy in my book.
Stay safe TC..........:o)
MUTTLY: Very knowledgeable, curious, pleasant, interested...goes with a REAL expert who doesn't let him buy anything. Comes home with a $5 unidentified bayonet blade he thinks is "cool," and a bent case from a .219 Donaldson Wasp somebody gave him.
LMAO.......We "have" to add Poor Muttly to the Texas Carnivore ping list.......:o)
Muttly that is usually my day at a gun show looking at the tables with boxes of crap and finding gold in the bottom of the box.
Stay safe !
Hehehe - the last thing I bought at a gun show was a Shiner Bock :o)
I'd have liked to grow up in your household!
Breast sweat - the nectar of the gods!
I'm Kevin in his mid-thirties.
I'm terrible at gun shows. All I do is wander around and try to keep my drool from ruining the weapons.
I haven't been to one in 2 years. Still trying to get out of debt.
The shows are just too crowded, and some of the prices are outrageous (one dealer wanted $400 for a plain Ruger 10/22!).
I was a sucker once as a newbie. I learned. (Remington 7400 - SUCKS)
Yeah, but that's a good debt, if there is such a thing.
If I didn't have to eat and drive, I could have a lot more guns.
Heck, I do that at the gun shops!
Fountain Firearms here in Houston thinks I'm a gun pervert.
I go down the aisle fondling every gun.
I had one gun in the house when I was married.
Now I've got a gun safe full.
What is the best shotgun and ammo for home defense, IYO?
As for the best gun and ammo, it depends on the person and how the gun feels to them.
In my case, I have a Mossberg 500 12-ga. pump with 3 inch shell loaded with 6 shot turkey loads. (I live in an apartment). I also own a 1911(Rock Island) .45ACP which I can also use for self-defense.
For the record, I'm not a gun expert(I'm more involved in the political end of it as a freedom issue), nor claim to be one.
I still enjoy a gun show. I took my teenage son and his friend(who leads a bit of a sheltered life). My only rules were "Don't touch anything. Don't buy anything until I see it". We walked through the door and I turned 'em loose. The lads ended up with a really tacky, gaudy pocket knife and a fake hand grenade. I traded my Rolling Block of dubious origins for a well kept Winchester 30/30. The other guy wanted a "project gun". I wanted a "shooter". We all ended the day happy. The teen who leads a sheltered life has really had his eyes opened...
My stateside area has some unique aspects to the gunshows. There's local conservative minister (posted and often reviled on this forum) who makes frequent visits to the gun shows because he's a2A advocate...then there are the local politicians who always need the 2A and Bubba vote...but alas, it is a truism that 'mine is gold and yours is crap' every time you want to try to bargain. About the only deals that are worth making are in the aisles or parking lot.
But heck, I like jerky, Dawn/Bambi, hot sauce samples, and things that I can't afford just as much as the next guy.
Thanks for the input.
Damn. I've been looking for the trigger and hammer group for that very pistol! It's in my underwear drawer with my Washington Arms Collectors badge clipped to it.
I've got a Iver Johnson Model 66, if that will help.
A fellow with an ammo table at a gun show in Tulsa possibly saved my life a few years ago. My loving father-in-law,knowing of my interest in WW11 era military guns, gave me an Italian made Mauser. I was looking over a table of amunition & asked told the seller what I needed. He informed me that he could sell me rounds for my rifle but he didn't really feel comfortable doing it. He said way too many of the rifles like mine were produced with Jewish slave labor. The workers were very adept at sabotage. The poor record of the Italian soldier was due in no small way to the tendancy of their rifles to blow up after a few dozen rounds were fired. My father-in-law put up tabes at shows about once a month most of his adult life yet claimed ignorance of this. He offered to take the gun back, but I kept it as evidence.
Haven't been to a gun show in ages and apparently they haven't changed much. Great representation of the characters you meet there!
No s**t, Jack-
All the gun shows I've ever been to have been crawling with law enforcement ranging from local to county to state to Bee Aye Tee Eff Eee who thought they were inconspicuous.
Anybody who tried acting up in there wouldn't be acting up for very long.
It confirms the sabotoge with other items, and you'll also see what Spielberg didn't put in the movie:
Schinder ARMED his Jews.
Funny about [some] wives.
Hubby had one gun cabinet full before we married. Now he has over 120. You see, I just adore him, and like to give him a gun on every anniversary. We were married on a Friday.
I'm looking for an Iver's Johnson, about 1912, .32 cal., not the hammerless, and it's just the trigger group + the hammer.
I always find .38s or hammerless .32s but never a .32 with a hammer.
I don't even care to ever fire it even if it was safe to do, but it's my great grandfather's pocket pistol so I'd like it to go click when I pull the trigger and have the hammer drop and the cylinder rotate.