View Full Version : Disappointing experience at the gun show yesterday

Doc Hoy
March 2, 2009, 06:07 AM

The people at the gun shows are starting to act like sellers on eBay.

Here's why I say that.

I have been doing eBay for about ten years. 462 feedbacks, all positive.

Ever since I started there have been a large number of bidders who do not bother to check the actual value of the things they are buying. They pay more for a used item than the item is worth new. Or they pay more for a new item than the item sells for in stores. So sellers have flocked to eBay hoping to cash in on this market ignorance.

I noticed that at the gun show in Virginia Beach yesterday. Two different vendors were selling "new" cap and ball revolvers for higher than they can be bought through Cabela's. They were not budging on prices.

I did wind up with two previously owned pistols, purchased from a guy on the Eastern Shore who was willing to be reasonable with his prices. Almost bought a CVA Hawken (.50 cal. percussion), which I think I could have bought for about fifty bucks, but it was too far gone and would be my second one.

March 2, 2009, 07:20 AM
Yeah when they had the show here in Fredericksburg I was amazed at some of the prices.

I almost bought a Shiloh Sharps 1863 Carbine but I couldn't see me spending the $1400.00 price right now even if it was pretty decent.

March 2, 2009, 07:31 AM
Its what the market is willing to pay. I'll bet that those two C&B pistols sold.

Capitalism rocks!

March 2, 2009, 09:33 AM
noticed the same thing in columbus, been looking for pumb action 22, guy selling nib taurus $300 across the aisle was a used one for $495. within sight of each other! it just goes to show you need to research the gun you want so you will know fair value.

Rebel Dave
March 2, 2009, 11:46 AM

Gun show prices are ridicules. I don't go to them any more. People think they have pure gold guns.
Ebay is almost like a frenzy that hits people, they just have to win the object no matter what they spend.
Lots of times you can find an equivlent item from an on line vender for a subtancial savings.

Rebel Dave

March 2, 2009, 11:59 AM
Ebay/online not the same market as gun shows. No comparison.

March 2, 2009, 12:09 PM
Ah, but they do mirror each other. "A fool and his money are soon parted.":cool:

March 2, 2009, 12:12 PM
i havent been to very many gun shows round here but i havent seen a reason to attend one either... all of the prices ive seen here at shows are always more than what they could be privately purchased in this same area.

March 2, 2009, 12:15 PM
You went to a gun show??



March 2, 2009, 12:37 PM
i still go to shows.. and yes for the most part the prices are way out of range. every now and again you find a deal.. the best thing to do is buy and trade with the people walking around. the last good find for us. was a mowrey 45 cal in great shape for 180 bucks.

March 2, 2009, 12:44 PM
If you go to gun shows expecting to see gun bargains, you will likely leave disappointed these days. They're still fun to go to though! I can usually find something to enhance my reloading kit / supplies and tool kit.

Doc Hoy
March 2, 2009, 02:35 PM
To Airforceshooter,

I guess I would cite the responses from noelf2 and srm970. It is fun to go just to see what is available. In addition I do generally pick up something. Yesterday a bought a Sheriff's model 1851 .36 and a Navy Arms .44 Griswold and Gunnison. Both brass frame and both less than perfect when I bought them. I gave eighty bucks apiece for them and I don't consider that an outstanding price, but I am okay with it.

When I pulled them apart, they both needed springs which I had in stock. I polished up the brightwork with Brasso. They shine like a ruby in a goat's a___ ____.

Just got done shooting the "Sheriff" with some Hornady .375s.

I am pretty pleased. Out of three shots, two of them went clean through the three inch tree I was aiming at at about ten yards. I missed with the first shot.

You do indeed ask a very good question. Each time I go, I take a chance on not finding anything and coming home mad because the vendors are preying on ignorance. I try not to get offended and I make a point of not accusing them of being charletons. I ask for their best price and if it isn't right I walk away.

March 2, 2009, 02:54 PM
And every once in a while there's the guy unloading a gun to pay his bills. The dealers offer nothing either on trade or to buy outright. He'll sell at a good price just for the cash, cash in hand always works well.

March 2, 2009, 02:55 PM
I always go to gun shows to buy mil surplus ammo ...no where else to buy it around here , and it`s cheaper than buying on line and paying hazmat .
Then there is always the hotdog and a coke ..and sometimes a good buy on a gun I can`t live without ...black powder guns are getting pretty hard to find at the shows here ......but I got bitten by the black powder bug at a gunshow back in 1971 .....been hooked ever since ..and to think all I was after was cheap 45acp ammo for my 1911 Colt .:D

Doc Hoy
March 2, 2009, 03:12 PM
To sundance,

I would sadly report that you can't get a dog and a coke at the guns shows in our area. I don't know if it is a ban on food at the convention centers or what but it is like living in Somalia.

I agree that BP gets into one's bloodstream.

To Jaguarxk120 (Do you really have one?) I respond in complete agreement. I hooked up with a guy who I used to teach with for probably five years. I never knew he was a shooter. But he had a .58 cal percussion rifle he was trying to sell or trade. I have all the rifles I want so I wasn't interested but he did say he was ready to unload all of his BP stuff. He has an ROA and a couple other revolvers. I am going to be talking to him.

March 2, 2009, 03:31 PM
Then there is always the hotdog and a coke

I stil go to shows now and then but I'm not paying 100 bucks over what a new gun costs for a used one and I'm dang sure not paying 6-8 bucks for a hot dog and watered down coke.:eek:

Doc Hoy
March 2, 2009, 04:05 PM

I agree with you about three hundred percent when you say, "Ebay/online not the same market as gun shows. No comparison."

The market is entirely different, but the philosophy of some of the vendors is identical. They are hoping to make a sale at a high price to someone who hasn't taken the time to scope out the competition and does not have enough patience to keep the emotion from driving the decision.

The simple fact that these lousy deals sit on the tables until the end and then get packed up are carted off to the next venue is all the evidence I need to declare my agreement with you.

I left about two hours before the show was sked to close on Sunday. The three pistols I was griping about in my first post were still sitting there. A $350.00 Walker for $399.00 (No negotiation), A $229.00 Colt Army for $299.00 (No negotiation) and a Pietta Navy (.36) in Brass which Cabella's was selling for 129.00 and the guy wanted 180.00 and wasn't moving.

Dr. Strangelove
March 2, 2009, 09:52 PM
I would sadly report that you can't get a dog and a coke at the guns shows in our area. I don't know if it is a ban on food at the convention centers or what but it is like living in Somalia.

I used to go to one in Bradenton Fl that sold beer...:eek:

The market is entirely different, but the philosophy of some of the vendors is identical. They are hoping to make a sale at a high price to someone who hasn't taken the time to scope out the competition and does not have enough patience to keep the emotion from driving the decision.

Doc Hoy,

I have the same frustrations with both Ebay and gun shows as you. Eba, well it sucks to be high bidder at a reasonable price for a few days just to have someone who usually doesn't end up buying bid the price up to 85% of new. Is it a real bidder? Is it the seller under another name or one of his buddies? Who knows. As far as Ebay goes, for 90% of items, I won't pay more than 50% of retail including shipping for used items, no matter the claimed condition. I put in my highest bid at the beginning of the auction and if I win great, but I'm not getting into a bidding war.

Gun shows, well; 25 years ago they used to be a great place to get deals on guns before all the traveling vendors got into the game. Used to be the local dealers would bring in their best prices, now it's just the big name circuit show vendors and they won't deal at all. Lots of things used to be, though, so I just don't buy from the overpriced guys. Gun shows are still a good place to pick up accessories and parts, just mostly not firearms anymore. Powder and primers are good buys at shows as well, if they are $5.00 or even $10.00 above catalog prices, you're still not paying haz-mat or shipping.

So yeah, it sucks, but it's the way the world works. I'm frustrated by high firearms prices also, but as long as people will pay, that is the market price. We just need to remember who looked out for us and who didn't when prices get back to normal, as they will. Another thing about gun shows - we need them. Any opportunity for people who might not otherwise go into a gun store or whatever to get involved in shooting and firearms ownership, we all should embrace. That's why I pay my seven or eight bucks at the door these days, plus it's great people watching. A buddy of mine and I used to play a game where we tried to spot the most flagrant mall ninja, after-show drinks being bought by the loser.

March 2, 2009, 11:01 PM
oops wrong post lol

March 3, 2009, 12:42 AM
It's hard to complain about prices when some of these vendors need to pay for their tables and travel expenses. I don't know how they can afford to keep displaying goods if they don't sell anything.
But I do hunt for some ammo bargains to at least make it worthwhile to keep going to shows.

March 3, 2009, 01:24 AM
I go to gun shows like I go to museums. To look, admire and learn. Not to buy. Oh, I'll buy ammo, a holster, etc. But not for a gun. What if I have a problem? The guy is back in his home state. I like my local dealer. Not only that, but prices are usually better.
People go to gun shows like they go to flea markets, and think everything is a bargain. Usually the used or questionable stuff they sell is very overpriced. What's "new" might just be re-blued. Old paperback books for $50! Come on!
But we have to face the facts. Yes, it is a seller's market right now. The good thing is there are more gun owners, and they will become savvy soon enough. We all did stupid things when we were young.
I appreciate it when I see the NRA reps trying to recruit and educate the new buyer. Let's welcome them into "the club," and we'll be more powerful as a group.
I won't be happy until EVERY American who is allowed to own a gun does just that. Probably a pistol at first, then a rifle after that. THEN the legislators who vote for bills without reading them will re-learn what a republic, a representative government, is supposed to be all about. (but I digress!)

March 3, 2009, 09:19 AM
I've done gun shows in the past looking for mil-surp ammo and small parts, but with the high cost of admission and ten bucks for a dog and coke, I gave it up.
I agree on the evil-bay sellers, many are way out of line, as are many buyers paying over high retail. E-bay can produce some bargains if you know what your looking at, and there are still some good sellers. I just had a very pleasant transaction with Jack Weigand at Jack Weigand Combat Handguns. He applied a 20% discount on items from his web site after the e-bay purchase. He makes a nice product.

March 3, 2009, 12:25 PM
I think I have attended every gun show within say 75 miles of me for the past 5 years, and I have only bought 4 things in all those trips. I tend toward the less regulated side of shooting sports, liking my break shotguns and black powder handguns. As such, I see good deals at almost every show. But I also am a rather frugal person and just because it is a good deal on a gun, if I don't need it, or have one already, or am not actively looking for it, I will probably pass it up, or at least take the guys card for future wants. By in large 60-70% of the guys at our shows are "black gun" sellers anymore. They take in trades and stuff but don't know what it is they have, I saw a really nice defarbed and deblued '49 pocket pistol at a show a month ago. It had been modified to have a birds head frame and had no loading lever. The guy wanted $450 bucks for it. I pointed out to him that it didn't fire .32 shells but was cap and ball. He was shocked (his partner took it in on trade). Sometimes I wonder what some are thinking. At that same show I picked these up at a huge deal, cause the guy didn't know what he had.
The shorty is a "U" serial.

Maybe I will keep going on the off chance...can't hurt.

March 3, 2009, 01:15 PM
I did pick up a like new ArmiSport Zouave Carbine at a gunshow 2 years ago ..last booth , and the guy didn`t have a clue what it was or what it was worth ....he was a black gun dealer at heart . He had a 250.00 price on it and I looked it over and offered him 200.00 and he took it ....I had been wanting one for years ..but knew I wouldn`t shoot it enough for me to buy a new one . So we do get lucky sometimes .....
This past gunshow I went to ...it was a black gun and ammo buying spree for every booth there ....funny though the ammo I was after was 3 dollars higher a box at the booths near the front door ..In the back booths I found 7.62x39 ammo for 4 dollars a box .....so after my high dollar hotdog and coke ...me and the wife left with all the ammo we could carry ......There was a sign posted at the door that read ...This could be our last gunshow ..
I sure hope this doesn`t happen ...I don`t want another round to reload for.

March 3, 2009, 07:12 PM
I don't understand the complaints about the dealers asking high prices. It's their business - I don't expect them to give me a good deal just because I happen to walk in the door. If I don't like their prices, and they won't come down when I ask, I just go elsewhere. It's called an open market, and it's been working that way for thousands of years. Why the hard feelings?

And yes, it's still possible to get a good deal every once in a while. Six months ago I bought an unfired T/C Hawken .54 caplock for $140. The bore was dirty as I've ever seen but there was no sign of corrosion. When I got the barrel cleaned out it was as shiny as a new penny with no pits. No dings or nicks on the stock or barrel. So it can be done. One thing's for sure - if you don't go, you won't find them.

As far as food and drink, our local show concessions stand is run by the local school cheerleading/booster club as a fundraising event. I don't mind paying them an extra buck for a hot dog. I do understand that others are run by commercial vendors and they're in it for profit, but I don't see that as a bad thing. Sure am glad my employers were all in business to make a profit. If I don't like the price for the food I get, I don't buy. Again, no hard feelings, however.

I am a little puzzled about one thing - if you leave a show two hours before closing, how do you know what they have left on the table at the end?

March 4, 2009, 02:13 AM
if you leave a show two hours before closing, how do you know what they have left on the table at the end?

Those last couple of hours are the best time to make a deal.

Piper Cub
March 4, 2009, 03:19 AM
Love gun shows and have gone to them most of my life. In my parts they have beer and nachoes at the shows. Great place to see old friends.
If you look you can find a deal.

Doc Hoy
March 4, 2009, 06:21 AM

I used the word "dissappointed" in my post about gun show vendors, because I am dissappointed when I can't get a new pistol at a good price. Thinking it over, it isn't reasonable to think that a gun show vendor who may be dealing in lots of a dozen or less with the overhead of travel can match the prices of the high volume folks who have their distribution system already established by selling boats and tents and camp stoves.

Heck, I was most disappointed by the fact that the new stuff on the tables was something I either already have or don't want. These guys should call me up before the show, ask what I need, hold one under the table for me and then sell it to me at half price, or better yet, give it to me as a gift because I am so handsome.

I also used the word "mad" because it makes me mad when a vendor clearly intends to exploit the ignorance or emotion or impatience of someone in the crowd. Now, as Mykeal said, there is no point getting angry on the spot. There are other days and other opportunities. There is no point in spouting alternative prices to the vendor in an attempt to extract a lower price because the vendor may simply not have the power to reduce the price. He is constrained by market factors that are beyond his control.

Someone said that there is no comparison between eBay and gun shows and that is true. The motives of the buyer are entirely different and I view that as a good thing when it comes to the shows. There are far fewer idiots at gun shows than there are on eBay. On Sunday there was one less when I left.

Certainly it may be worthwhile to wait until the very end of the show when vendors are faced with the decision to either pack up their stuff or come off their prices. I have never tried it, but I bet it happens all of the time.

I have put myself in the position of disagreeing with some of you who have a hundred times my experience. I don't do this lightly.