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Gun Show Grumbles


Ezra Hawthorne
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  Yesterday I attended a local gun show for the fifth time ever and unfortunately walked away empty handed yet again. Few cowboy guns available being sold, and those that were available were either antique patinas going for well over two grand or Heritage .22s being sold for double what they're worth. One problem i've noticed is that i'm seeing the same people at every show I attend with the same table every time, they never seem to have anything different in stock. I have also been unlucky when it comes to finding myself a decent double action revolver to acquire as my first firearm. While there are more of these available than single action guns, they are frequently either current year models or aren't the caliber i'm hoping to find; lots of King Cobras for $2,500+ or air weight five-shot .22s, whenever there's a .38 special being sold it's almost always a six inch barrel, anything shorter is being sold for well over what it's worth by greedy price gougers.

  I have been hoping to find a 3 inch barrel or shorter six to eight shot .38 or a 4 inch or longer hand cannon in .357/.41/.44/.45 or even 10mm being sold for a modest price. The ideal scenario is I approach a table, and the vendor would say to me "here's dad's old service revolver/hunting sidearm from the 70's/80's, a S&W or Dan Wesson or some other brand from yesteryear, it's got some holster wear, some scratches/dings/finish loss on the barrel and shrouded ejector rod, a turn line on the cylinder, the wood grip is worn/scuffed/chipped, but the lockup and timing are fine and i'd be willing to make a deal in the $400-$500 range." I did see one single S&W 29-2 at a table, but of course the vendor said it wasn't for sale and was for display purposes only.. I mistakenly believed those old heavy tack drivers from a generation ago would be more affordable since everyone buys polymer semi autos these days but instead it seems the reverse is true; they increase in value as the years go by. 

  In summary, i'm pretty dejected and starting to wonder if the only way i'll acquire any of my things is to win them in a raffle or giveaway. What might have been affordable and reasonable 10-15 years ago now can't seem to buy me anything in today's current market. I'm kicking myself for dragging my heels and waiting as long as I did to commit to owning a firearm. <_<

Edited by Ezra Hawthorne
typo
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Yep, older revolvers are commanding prices higher than when they were new. Back in the 80.s/90's you could get a Smith model 66 in the barrel length of your choice for between 300-400. Earlier this year I found a Smith 66 with 4" barrel (police trade-in) at Sportsman's Warehouse. Paid $625. New ones are 850+.

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28 minutes ago, Ezra Hawthorne said:

anything shorter is being sold for well over what it's worth by greedy price gougers.

 

29 minutes ago, Ezra Hawthorne said:

 I have been hoping to find "x" sold for a modest price.

 

29 minutes ago, Ezra Hawthorne said:

What might have been affordable and reasonable 10-15 years ago

 

Sounds like you are simply out-of-touch with the market and have unrealistic expectations.  It is not 10 or 15 years ago.  It is now.

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1 hour ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

 

 

 

Sounds like you are simply out-of-touch with the market and have unrealistic expectations.  It is not 10 or 15 years ago.  It is now.

It’s not even 5 years ago. :D

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I have been to gun shows off and on( pretty regularly in 80s , 90s 2000s up until 2019, here in Utah , in West Texas , and 4-corners area , depending where I was living at the time , and haven't ever seen very many "good deals". I kept going anyway , just enjoyed the browsing.

Have seen the same items on dealers tables over several shows , they must enjoy just hauling them around.

Gun Show is about the worst place to look for a reasonable priced firearm. Once in a while one can be bought reasonable off Gun Broker , but you have to spend a lot of time looking to find them. Local gunshop or Sporting goods chain stores are usually a better bet. Sometimes a Pawn shop will surprise you with a decent deal.

Good luck in your search ,

Rex :D

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I used to go to gun shows all the time, but not for guns, usually. With no internet,  only had local gun stores and they didn't have a lot of the stuff guns shows had in spades, like gun cleaning stuff, black powder stuff, especially fiber wads, etc. Also lead bullets,  once or more fired cases, you get the idea. The only gun I ever bought was an Auto Ordnace 1911 for something like $300.

Now I go to see what my guns are worth, albeit at inflated gun show prices.

Wish I still had that Python, HK 91, Mini 14 with factory folder, Diamondback, etc, etc.

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Don’t give up @Ezra Hawthorne you’ll find something. Sometimes patience is needed. Or you could have my luck and buy something want only to find what you really want but don’t have the money for it. 
 

Last year I bought a Glock 34, which I did want but when I went to pick it up they had a used S&W Model 19 Carry Comp for the same price I paid for the G34. :blink: It was in pristine shape. The counter guy said the guy had put 50 rounds through it and decided he wanted a 9mm instead. I just didn’t have the funds for the Carry Comp. I haven’t seen one since. 
That’s okay. I am digging having 2 G34s. 
 

What is it the Brits say? “Keep a stiff upper lip”.

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Like the other guys said, gun shows is just about the worst place to buy a gun. Gunbroker isn't bad, but you have to work at it. Local gun stores are far better places to shop. Pawn shops can, stress CAN, be good. 

However, right now is NOT a good time to get into being a gun owner. Something like 7 million people have done so since the Zombie Apocalypse started, and Creepy Joe has only added to it. Guns are high, ammo is NUTS. 

That being said, keep at it. Make a habit of going out every few weeks and looking. Talk to people. Let them know what you're looking. They might have something you missed, not out yet, or who knows. One of them might get something in that you're looking for and let you know. 

We all started somewhere.

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Looking for a double action revolver as your first gun, are you?

 

But the prices! Yes, they suck. My "modern" wheel guns (1960s) have all gone up in price and my lady just unloaded a couple wall hanger rifles and a Saturday Night Special to a vendor at our local gun show. The Saturday Night Special shoots the chambered round, but does not cycle properly, which might be factory spec :lol:. One of the wall hangers had no firing pin, and no daylight through the bore. No problem selling anything.

 

If you are looking for a carry gun, you might be best served buying new at your local gun store. Start with Glocks. Then compare from there. I am partial to Sig Sauer, and a good SP2022 is a bargain even with today's ongoing panic. I paid less than $400 for mine 4 or 5 years ago. Plus belt, holster, mag holders, new belt, nice buckle, third belt, new gun (I'm also partial to 1911s) and holster and mags and mag holders, and yet another new belt but the buckle is a keeper.

 

You are going to be in a good $1,000 by the time you sort out your first carry, not counting ammo to practice and learn it. I even had to change my brand of pants so I could get into the pockets.

 

Get any good reliable firearm from reputable source that fits your hands. Set aside funds for the special ones you want so you can jump on them when you find them. My .357 snubby crossed my path several years after I started looking.

 

At the show a week or so ago, did see a couple nice Colt revolvers, one with minimal holster wear, one virtually pristine (cylinder stripe, dammit! Someone spun it and spun it and spun it.). Could have flipped them to Gunbroker and made a few hundred on each, but I am not in that business. They were a bit too nice for everyday carry, but had investment potential.

 

And then there is a lot of worn crap, my eyes just skim over the carnage. A lot of sellers with new inventory, likely decent prices for today and probably the same prices as in a store.

 

 

Edited by John Kloehr
buckle, not buck
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Another thing you can do is look on forums in your area. Here in California we have CalGuns which is a forum with a marketplace where you can buy and sell guns through FFL’s, of course. You have to join to post but you might find a local forum in your area. 

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Sweetie....you have unreal expectations.

You are just going to have to face facts.

If you find a set of pistols for $800-$900...you better jump.

 

If you still want to hold on to 'low ball' prices...

Cap N Ball

Rossi

Hammered coach...

 

And have fun, but don't expect to be super fast with those.

 

Just my 2cents.

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2008...

Paid $1200 for pair of USFA Longhunter pistols

 

2010...

Paid $1295 for Longhunter '73

 

2010...

Paid $500-ish for Stoger 12ga sxs

 

2012-ish...

Bought stainless Vaqueros .38s from fellow shooter fkr $950  (DEAL!)

paid $750 for '73 carbine a couple years later.

 

This sport is not inexpensive...but, can be doable...

And not as expensive as others.;)

 

 

Edited by Singin' Sue 71615
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show prices are way high , in most cases , I have been around them , since the late 80s 

decent S&W revolvers seem to be $850 + here 

Colt d/as are starting about $1250 

I go to looks for parts and projects , but even those are hard to find 

 

  good luck on the hunt 

 

   Chickasaw Bill 

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The guys with tables at gun shows with the same guns every show don’t want to sell. They are like your car show guys. They are there to see thier friends and watch folks ogle their collection. They are usually a waste of time.

Edited by John Barleycorn, SASS #76982
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I have been going to gun shows since the 1960's. In all that time I have bought maybe ten firearms. I have bought far more on-line, than at a gunshow.

What you related to us, is what we all have experienced. I do look at on-line gun sites every day, and I pretty much know what something is going for, price wise...not that I agree with what they are asking. The prices, nowadays, are just obscene. 

Gun shows really are not a place to go, to necessarily find a bargain, or even what you are looking for. 

For, me, I discovered that finding something I really want, at a descent price, at a gun show, is the exception, and never the rule.

At least on-line, you can put in what you are looking for, and if there are any available, you will know. Going to a gun show, you never really know what might be there, or might come through the doors, with a customer. 

I like some gun shops, but some of the salesmen don't know squat, or are jerks. 

Also, it is a pain in beau-tocks to have to listen to the person, at the gun show, behind the table, speak to you like you don't know which end of the firearm the projectile comes out of. I am looking for a realistic price, and I want to examine the firearm, and the bore. I ain't lookin' for an opinion, or for them to tell me how knowledgeable they pretend to be. 

 

You know...I figure if anyone that is selling at a gun show, or shop, is over 33 years old, then I MAY listen to him/her.

Why 33 years old?? Well, as a human, Jesus lived to be 33, so if that person outlived Jesus, then maybe he/she may know what they are talking about....maybe. 

 

 

 

 

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I never expect to find deal at gun shows. I do hope to find a deal and sometimes I do, but it usually not on something that a Gen Xer is slobbering over. My last deal was an 1870s S&W Model 1 1/2 in nickel with pearl grips for $300 in .32 rimfire. I also got a bayonet for my 1873 Trapdoor that's in excellent shape.

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I notice there is a big difference in the prices of guns at shows very guns by cowboy shooters. It goes both ways and depends on the gun and of course what people are willing to pay. For instance:

 

Factory SKB 100 really good shape not worked on and cut down.

Gunshow 700-800

Cowboy 1000

 

Factory SKB 100 slicked up and cut down to 20"

Gunshow you'd probably never get 500-600 for it from anyone other than a cowboy shooter because it's been cut on.

Cowboy 1400

 

Smith and Wesson 686 lew Horton hunter

Gunshow expect 2500-3000

Cowboy shooter about has a coronary if you ask 1000.

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On 10/30/2021 at 3:21 PM, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

 

 

 

Sounds like you are simply out-of-touch with the market and have unrealistic expectations.  It is not 10 or 15 years ago.  It is now.

Not even pre 2020 lol .

Everything and I mean everything is over priced .

I would not waist the entrance fee to go into a gun show right now . :wacko:

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I did gun shows for many years as a dealer and I go every time I get a chance. Some people I see at them I know and have traded with them over the years for different things. The fact is I have low expectations for finding a deal unless I was to get another FFL and start setting up at the shows. The best deals usually are the ones from the people walking around and right now every body thinks what they have is worth a fortune and anything you are selling is worth half of your asking price.  Right now if I want something I usually watch Gun Broker and the SASS wire. I find gun shows vary by area and the Gun shows in Louisville, Ky and Birmingham, AL were the best ones i have attended in the last couple years. Most on the time I hit the local gun shows to kill a couple hours talking and looking but since i am not looking for Black guns, very seldom do i find anything i have to have. I also hit the small local gun shops and pawn shops as they usually have some things that are odd, but not as much any more. The best advice I can give you is to check prices, figure out what you want and what you are willing to pay for it. I know a dealer that has several Colt SAA's that I would like to have, but he wants top collector dollar for everything and i have know him for years and have traded a bit with him, but I know he wants to make $400 to $500 on every trade. I have also seen the same guns  for a year or 2 on his table and him continue to raise the price over time.. At a gun show, I never offer their asking price and it they don't like my offer or want to discuss it, I walk away. I figure sooner or later I will find what i am looking for and being patience is the best option.

Good Luck.

Edited by Maddog McCoy SASS #5672
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On 10/30/2021 at 1:05 PM, Wyatt Earp SASS#1628L said:

Yep, older revolvers are commanding prices higher than when they were new. Back in the 80.s/90's you could get a Smith model 66 in the barrel length of your choice for between 300-400. Earlier this year I found a Smith 66 with 4" barrel (police trade-in) at Sportsman's Warehouse. Paid $625. New ones are 850+.


  Speaking of which, my state has a gun exchange website and I had been visiting it daily for months, I took a break from the site for a few days due to a busy schedule and because of the aforementioned gun show last week, so naturally in that tiny window of time I missed a post from somebody who listed a gorgeous S&W Model 66 4" stainless in near perfect condition for $510.

NearDecimalFulmar-size_restricted.gif
 

 

On 10/30/2021 at 1:21 PM, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

Sounds like you are simply out-of-touch with the market and have unrealistic expectations.  It is not 10 or 15 years ago.  It is now.


  In almost every video review you see online advertising firearms, they say the "street value" is lower than what the MSRP lists them for, however I frequently keep seeing things listed for well over what it costs new. I don't think it's unrealistic to expect something not be sold for more than what the manufacturers themselves list on their website, but perhaps i'm wrong. @LawMan Mark, SASS #57095L mentioned buying his little Cobra for $300 and it's crazy to think that today it could go for three times that amount and still find buyers no problem.
 

On 10/30/2021 at 5:22 PM, Sgt. C.J. Sabre, SASS #46770 said:

However, right now is NOT a good time to get into being a gun owner. Something like 7 million people have done so since the Zombie Apocalypse started, and Creepy Joe has only added to it. Guns are high, ammo is NUTS.


  Yes, that is one thing i've learned over the past couple of years. Pawn shops in my area are nearly cleared out of guns, and the gun shops in my county don't sell anything used. People tell me you used to be able to get ammo for less than 50 cents a round and that's starting to sound like when people used to reminisce about gasoline being under a dollar per gallon..
 

On 10/30/2021 at 5:50 PM, Irish-Pat said:

Watch people coming in with guns for sale and ask what they want for them that is the way to get a bargain


  I haven't seen a single person at the shows who brings something in to sell, it's all been vendors at tables and booths set up. GunBroker has proven to be a great disappointment as well, people frequently wait until an auction has 30 minutes left then it becomes a furious bidding war that drives up the price until someone wins.
 

On 10/30/2021 at 5:53 PM, John Kloehr said:

Looking for a double action revolver as your first gun, are you?


  Yes, I have this yearning I can't quite explain to own a solid "old reliable" wheelgun, maybe down the road i'll move onto a semi-auto as well but I feel the need to make my first non-cowboy gun a revolver, both so that it will hold a personal sentimental value to discourage a fleeting impulse to sell in the future and for peace of mind knowing I would have in my possession something I can trust to go bang. I don't think i'd feel the same way about a sub-compact polymer 9mm that you can buy anywhere than I would with an old school tack driver forged from a block of solid steel like the days of yore.

  I've helped a couple people here and local to me acquire things they wanted, I seem to have a knack for it. But i'm starting to get the impression i'm cursed when it comes to finding something for myself. I've got a little more moping to do and then i'll move on if not at least feel better.

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What I discovered about gun shows is that the good firearms are horse-traded between table vendors Friday night or early Saturday morning before the doors even open to the public. What's left after the show opens is whatever the vendors weren't interested in, leaving mostly junk for the rest of us.

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Keep your eyes open for a S&W Model 13 or 65. These are fixed sight revolvers and the 3" versions are incredibly well balanced. They have that wonderful K frame action, the Ladysmith 65 is an especially sweet handling gun.

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