View Full Version : Thoughts on Gunshows

February 20, 2002, 10:01 PM
Alright guys let me have it.

I have bought only one gun at a gunshow and it turned out if I had waited and reserched some I could have saved myself about $30 and hours of reconditioning. The gun is quite nice now but I still paid too much for it even though it was definitely a competitive price at the gunshow. I am now a bit more savy with my purchases but sometimes you never know how a gun is untill you go to the range. At gunshows the seller is frequently either not a dealer or a dealer out of state making returns and accountability impractical.

What are your policies for buying firearms at a gunshow and how do you keep from getting burned by a "good deal" that just isn't?

February 20, 2002, 11:26 PM
There is only 1 answer to your question that I know of: do your homework before you go to the show.

If I have a particular gun in mind, or I have a "short list" of guns that I am waiting for just the right deal to strike on, I'll have a pretty good idea of the going prices before I go to the show.

Honestly, I have been going to gunshows for probably 10 years plus now & I have yet to buy a gun at one. Ammo, grips, holsters, cleaning supplies, etc - yes. But I've come to believe that the prices at the shows are inflated. It's a great way to see a bunch of guns, maybe handle a few & if you are looking for a new gun & the show is big enough, you might be able to wheel & deal a decent price on one. But it's very rare that I walk into a show & see a bargain price ticketed onto a gun.

February 21, 2002, 09:27 AM
A dealer may not sell at a gun show in another state (unless he transfers the firearm thru an in-state dealer first)

February 21, 2002, 04:34 PM
I would actually prefer to buy at a gun show if I could only find a decent gun show.

The Local shows here are being populated by politicians and cheap knife and surplus store salesmen.

There are a few private dealers and a few shops showing up but they've usually just got the stuff they want to get off their shelf.

I took a couple of my guns to see what I might what would happen and got a ton of "fondlers" I now have a new appreciation for what shop owners go through every day.

It was sad to me that I had several people tell me I had the nicest handguns there. I did see a few other Wilson Combats but they were marked up DRASTICALLY $3300.00 for a Tactical Elite. I'm fairly certain the guy wasn't a dealer either so that was for a LNIB used gun.

It's generally been my experience that most guns sit in the box under the bed waiting to be sold because the current owner is bored with them and wants the next new great thing.

February 21, 2002, 05:53 PM
"A dealer may not sell at a gun show in another state (unless he transfers the firearm thru an in-state dealer first)"

Then why bother????
Don`t believe your information is correct, gotta source?? LTS

February 21, 2002, 06:07 PM
but only from known local storefront dealers who were displaying there. Usually got a price that was better than their normal in-store price, so it was worth it. Seems lately the dealers have given up even displaying at the shows, so the show has deteriorated to the point where a lot of chatchkis and non-gun stuff is sold. I'm too lazy to do all the research ahead of time to buy something used from an unknown, so don't buy guns at the show anymore, just bulk powder and primers.

Bottom Gun
February 21, 2002, 08:01 PM
Don't give up on the gun shows. Granted, they have changed quite a bit in the 35 years I've been attending and exhibiting at them, but they are still good opportunities to find smoking deals.

For instance, I was able to sell a gun at a profit and buy one at a good price in the last couple shows I attended. For example, two months ago, I bought a NIB S&W Mod 66 with accessories for $315 from an exhibitor's private collection. That's much less than I would have spent in a gun shop.

The shows are also an excellent place to buy parts, accessories, reloading components, leather, and ammo.

You have to do your homework beforehand though because there are some high prices there as well so you need to know what you're looking at.

If you're looking for deals, try going late in the afternoon on the last day of the show. You won't have as large a selection then, but the dealers will be more apt to cut you a deal if they seriously want to sell something.

You shouldn't get excited or be insulting if something you crave is priced too high.
If I see something I want but feel the price is too high and the guy won't come down on it, I'll write the model of the gun and the price I'm willing to pay for it on one of my cards and I'll leave the card with him and ask him to call me if he changes his mind. I've acquired several nice firearms that way.

So don't give up on shows, but go in with an open mind, ignore the flea market stuff, and be friendly. Make it a pleasant experience and enjoy yourself. Talk to the dealers. You can learn a lot there too. I always come away from a show a little wiser.

Just my two cents.

February 21, 2002, 10:02 PM
The last three gun shows I have been to in Sioux City, Iowa, have been freaking garage sales with people selling "collectables," their own "trailer park art" and cheap assorted military surplus junk. Most of these "artists" wear their beat-to-hell M65 field jacket, a hat with a stupid political statement and have ignored basic grooming habits. They obviously do not have a dental plan either.

I have seen people selling Russian M44s for twice you can buy one for at AIM Surplus. I have seen Yugo M-48A mausers without the cleaning rod and front hood sight for $250. I saw one guy reading the CDNN Investments catalog with 2x mark-ups on the crap he was selling.

The only reason to go to the gun shows promoted by L&L Gun Shows here in Sioux City has been one CZ dealer who sometimes comes from east of Omaha. However, he was trying to sell CZ-75B Military pistols without the 15-round mag and then charging big bucks on the side for it.


(I feel better now)

Bottom Gun
February 22, 2002, 09:55 AM
Why do you continue to go to gun shows if they upset you?

February 22, 2002, 01:24 PM
A dealer may not sell at a gun show in another state (unless he transfers the firearm thru an in-state dealer first)"

Then why bother????
Don`t believe your information is correct, gotta source?? LTS

Sorry LIKETOSHOOT, but ol' TEXAS is correct. As a dealer, you may only sell guns directly to the public at gunshows located in the state where your FFL licensed store front address is.

The source is the Federal Firearms Code.

February 22, 2002, 10:36 PM
Hard to believe there is so much misinformation concerning firearms sales.

On handguns, yes. You can sell long-guns to a resident of any state contiguous to TX such as LA, AR, OK, NM.

This rule also applies to any state that borders another. I reside in Texas, and also deal in firearms (FFL)

February 23, 2002, 12:24 AM
LIKTOSHOOT - no argument here - but what I posted was that the FFL holder has to be at a show in the state to which the licensee's place of business is located [27 CFR 178.100]. That is how I interpreted what TEXAS LAWMAN stated. If at a show located in another state, the licensee can only display & take orders for guns. All guns must then be returned to his/her place of business & shipped from there, to another FFL holder.

You are correct that a rifle or shotgun is exempted from 178.99 which restricts sales to non-licensee's to the state in which you are licensed [27 CFR 178.99 (a) (1)]. Is the "neighboring state" condition a state regulation of Texas? I don't recall seeing that in the Federal Regulations but I have been wrong before...

February 23, 2002, 10:15 AM
It applies to all States, provided the State allows it. Some don`t. It does not just apply to Texas. Some States, make their own laws concerning firearm purchases......we have seen these States restrict sales of magazines, assualt rifles/pistols.....and firearms in general, which override Federal. Sometimes refered to as Commie States. One gun per month, FOID cards to purchase ammo or firearms, the list is great in the east and on the left coast, where you must drop firearms to prove them worthy of being imported. Regards LTS

February 23, 2002, 12:33 PM

February 23, 2002, 05:15 PM

(F13) What may a licensed dealer do at an out-of-State gun show?

A licensed dealer may sell and deliver curio or relic firearms to another licensee at an out-of-State gun show. With respect to other firearms transactions, a licensed dealer may only display and take orders for firearms at an out-of-State gun show. In filling any orders for firearms, the dealer must return the firearms to his or her licensed premises and deliver them from that location. Any firearm ordered by a nonlicensee must be delivered or shipped from the licensee's premises to a licensee in the purchaser's State of residence, and the purchaser must obtain the firearm from the licensee in the purchaser’s State. Except for sales of curio or relic firearms to other licensees, sales of firearms and simultaneous deliveries at the gun show, whether to other licensees or to nonlicensees, violate the law because the dealer would be unlawfully engaging in business at an unlicensed location.
[18 U.S.C. 922(a)(1), (b)(3), 923(a), (j)]

(Emphasis added by author of this post)

27 CFR 178.41: General
(Also 178.42, 178.50)

Firearms or ammunition may not be sold at gun shows by a licensed dealer, but orders may be taken under specified conditions; Revenue Ruling 66-265 superseded.
Rev. Rul. 69-59

Advice has been requested whether a person who is licensed under 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44 (which superseded the Federal Firearms Act (15 U.S.C. Chapter 18)) or who is continuing operations under a license issued to him under the Federal Firearms Act, as a manufacturer, importer or dealer in firearms or ammunition may sell firearms or ammunition at a gun show held on premises other than those covered by his outstanding license.

Under 18 U.S.C. 923(a), "a separate fee" is required to be paid for each place at which business as a licensee is to be conducted. Further, each applicant for a license is required to have in a State "premises from which he conducts business" (18 U.S.C. 923(d)(1)(E)) and to specify such premises in the license application. In addition, record s are required to be maintained at the business premises covered by the license (18 U.S.C. 923(g)).

Therefore, a person holding a valid license may engage in the business covered by the license only at the specific business premises for which his license has been obtained. Thus, a licensee may not sell firearms or ammunition at a gun show held on premises other than those covered by his license . He may, however, have a booth or table at such a gun show at which he displays his wares and takes orders for them, provided that the sale and delivery of the firearms or ammunition are to be lawfully effected from his licensed business premises only and his records properly reflect such transactions.

There are no provisions in the law for the issuance of temporary licenses to cover sales at gun shows and licenses will be issued only for premises where the applicant regularly intends to engage in the business to be covered by the license.

This ruling does not apply to the activities of licensed collectors with respect to the receipt or disposition of curios and relics by such collectors. For provisions relating to transactions by licensed collectors of curios and relics, see 26 CFR 178.50 of the regulations.

Rev. Rul. 66-265, 1966-2 , C.B. 559, is hereby superseded.

Editor's Note
In 1986, the GCA was amended to allow licensees to sell firearms at gunshows in the State in which their licensed premises are located, and was further amended in 1997 to allow licensees to sell curio or relic firearms to other licensees at any location. The ruling is still applicable to licensees’ off-premises sales not addressed by these amendments.

*END OF ATF P 5300.4 (01-00) TEXT*

From how that reads, it is not permitted for a dealer to sell and deliver a firearm (unless a Curio & Relic) at a gun show that is in a state other than where the license is registered, even to another FFL holder. No?

February 25, 2002, 11:17 AM
Well, on further research I was wrong.

A licensee may only display and take orders at an out-of-state gunshow. He must then return ALL firearms to his place of business and ship to the receiving licensee. It is illegal to take the order AND make the delivery at the gun show, EVEN IF YOU ARE DELIVERING TO A LICENSEE (except for C&R firearms).

The deal about selling long-guns to out-of-state nonlicensees pertains to over-the-counter transactions ONLY. Licensees can sell and do business at IN-STATE gun shows only.

See ATF's website, FAQ, F12 and F13. http://www.atf.treas.gov/firearms/faq/faq2.htm#f13

Just another reason I dont prick with gun shows.

Just call ME part of the mis-information trail.........

February 25, 2002, 12:59 PM
I just recently went to a gun show in WI. Some of the prices of used guns were extremely high. I have sold new guns cheaper than what these guys are asking for there used guns. Majority of the people selling guns there were so called private sellers, no tax and no paper work. That is where alot of convicted felons pick up there guns at. They don't mind paying the extra as long as they can get a gun. Truthfully I would like to see more regulation at a gun show. Whoever sells guns at a gun show, should fill out the paper work just like a dealer does and do the checks.:D

February 25, 2002, 01:11 PM

george miller
February 25, 2002, 06:51 PM
gunshows seem inflated-when trading,seller often gets out his "book" whereas a similar item on his table is overly priced. i quit going because getting a fair deal anymore is just about nil.they dont want your gun unless they can make at least 100 off you.ive seen toys,pocket knives and flea bitten used clothing at shows.been "sharked" at the door,only to find my sold gun selling double on someones table.there are some good deals walking around and some dealers will give you a fair price but overall,its become a place to get ammo and accessories,odds ends.

February 25, 2002, 10:48 PM
LIKETOSHOOT don't feel badly - the only reason I knew of that part of the law was I had a similar conversation not too long ago with someone concerning out-of-state dealers at a gun show.

I pulled out the Regulation reference (I have a C&R) & looked it up. But the regs can be so confusing & intimidating, it's a wonder I can make amy sense of them at all.

george As I have said before, I go to shows usually on the lookout for guns on my short list of "want to have" or "have to have". It's a great place to examine a whole bunch of guns without having to store hop, & if you know what the going prices are when you walk in you may be able to strike a deal. However, I have never bought a gun at a show. I have a good dealer who always advertises "Let me try to match your best deal", and he usually does or comes so close I just go to him.

I think people believe that discounts at shows are automatic. They aren't - why would they be? :confused: A show costs a dealer money - someone has to mind the store, someone(s) have to work the show, & there's the show fee, plus the time & energy for setup & travel. Sure - the traffic is higher, but a lot of that traffic is just looking. There is no reason for a dealer to drastically drop his retail pricing at a show. However, he knows what he paid & if you know what a good deal is, you might just get lucky but you'll probably have to barter. But keep in mind - the dealers cruise the show too, & they know what the other tables are selling hardware for!

Now, you may be able to find that used gun you've been looking for, & that is what I always have my eyes focused on. But again - knowing the pricing going in makes those "buy" or "not buy" decisions a lot easier!

February 25, 2002, 11:02 PM
". Sure - the traffic is higher, but a lot of that traffic is just looking. There is no reason for a dealer to drastically drop his retail pricing at a show."

One of the reasons that a lot of that traffic is just looking is answered by the second sentence. Maybe people are more educated than you think. If a dealer wants to charge top dollar for his wares, people know this and just keep right on walking.

February 26, 2002, 02:02 PM
Maybe people are more educated than you think. If a dealer wants to charge top dollar for his wares, people know this and just keep right on walking.

The problem is, gun stores are not like grocery stores. There aren't near as many of them, you must use their services, even if just to transfer (handguns), and the pricing isn't set.

They are more like auto dealerships, where the price on the ticket is not the lowest offer and to barter is expected. In fact, I would venture a guess that the dealer who does sell a gun at the ticketed price considers it an easy sale. So the seller starts high, the buyer starts low, & somewhere in the middle they hope to meet.

It depends on how the dealer wants to run his business, & how hard we as buyers want to explore what deal we can strike. I'll admit, when cruising past a table where the prices are at 100% of MSR, I'll keep walking. But that's not to say I don't see the tables being shopped either.

george miller
February 27, 2002, 06:24 PM
usually,its the private seller who has a table set up that i have problems with. like you, i went because i didnt want to go all over tarnation looking and shows are a good place to see a variety of collectables and quality guns and accessories.id happen by a table and the guy would say"what cha have there?"next thing i know hes offering a trade(which is ok)he gets out a outdated gunvalues book,picks out every spot and imperfection,expects me to give him accessories"free"and by the time hes finished,my 250 dollar rifle and another 100 in accessories is worth about 200 bucks on trade for his used guns.dealers usually will not do trades which i understand but if youre short on cash...looking is all one can do.where else can one get a used stainless ruger p90 for 450?.im not saying every seller does this but it has been my experiences that lead me to save the gas money and admission costs and buy from a local dealer.this is why i only go for parts and ammo.

February 27, 2002, 11:09 PM
In Tulsa, we have one to two gun and knife shows a month, so opportinuity to browse is frequent. I bough my P97DC at a gun show, and it was a full 70 bucks less than any store in town.

As previous posts suggest, homework pays off.

March 26, 2002, 12:20 PM
Man, sounds like those shows SUCK.

Indy 1500, Indiana State Fair Grounds, next show Fri-Sun, 31 May to 2 June. Easy 2 hour drive from Columbus, OH.

New Taurus 606 ported snub, $219.

MI State Police surplus Remington 870, 18", $125.

DPMS AR-15s, $500

.30-06, $65 for 240 rounds.

Benchmade from $70 (shameless plug for my business)

SKS, some vintage I don't recall (I bought it to shoot, not hang on the wall), $130.

Mauser 98K action, $60

HK-91, the new American model, $500ish

Near mint Stainless Security Six, $160

Used Mossberg 500, needed shell follower, $70 (yes, $70)

That's from the dealers.

Prof Karlson found some sucker selling an 1803 Harper's Ferry, complete and original, for $65.
A .44 Colt stainless revolver (don't recall which), near mint, $180

I bought a pre-ban carbine, needed some springs, for under a grand.

join us. And Indiana's an anything goes state. Want a silenced .50 BMG? A Vulcan? a 105 recoilless?

March 31, 2002, 12:03 AM
gun shows are terrible. I go just to be with my dad, who likes to look around and get away from the farm. But, i was actually interested in buying this Bulgarian Mak at this show and the dunderhead treated me like i was a child. Granted i was only twenty at the time, but i've been messing around with handguns for a while. He assumed that i was a dunderhead, which to him meant easy sale and offered to me the used Mak for $240 with only one mag. He would sell any other magazines at $15 each. Being noble, he did offer a 50% discount on one box of ammo for the gun. :barf: Needless to say, i was Pissed.


April 7, 2002, 05:37 PM
The last couple I went to in Roanoke were crap. Tables full of Taurus revolvers and Ruger pistols. Nothing wrong with those but you were SOL if you were looking for SA or Colt 1911s or even Glocks in anything other than .357sig. It seemed that the stuff they had was stuff they've been trying to get rid of for a while.

There was no shortage of Nazi flags, coins, and assorted other garbage that obviously no one else wants.

However, I did pick up a NIB Glock 36 for my wife last Nov. for $499 at a show in Harrisonburg.

April 11, 2002, 02:03 PM
There is a gun-show loophole: quality stuff, and fair prices. Considering the admittance, parking fee and the drive to the location, even primers, powder and bullets are cheaper at my local dealer.

I stopped attending gun shows for over one year.

April 12, 2002, 02:47 AM
Madmike, I've never seen deals like that out here. I think I want to be a Hoosier!:D The shows I go to here are usually the same stuff again and again. Most prices are the same or MORE than dealers. Guy had Walther P99 ten round mags for $45.00! Dealer here is 35.00. I usually get ammo or accessories only.

April 12, 2002, 09:40 AM
One good thing about gun shows....the ability to fondle guns! (Oh..make sure you ask to fondle first).

Seriously, I haven't bought a gun at a gunshow yet. I've had more luck through GunBroker. However, at the gunshow I have been able to get a better look and feel of a handgun that I am interested. Pictures on the internet or okay....but nothing replaces being able to actually hold one.