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Is it just me, or has the quality of gun show offerings gone way down lately, while the prices have jumped?

I know, a lot of folks on DC & other forums have complained a lot that they never go to shows anymore because they see nothing but overpriced crap, but I have not generally found that to be the case around here - at least until now. Over the last few years, I have found a LOT of good deals on some cool guns and accessories at shows. I've found a couple of 40+ year old revolvers in mint condition at amazingly low prices. A year or so ago I found a Sig 938 NIB for a price lower than I would have believed possible. I'd guess that close to half of my gun buys in the last ten years were at shows. I'm sure that that's partly because I've been more interested in older guns lately, and I'd rather buy them at a show than sight unseen online or something.

Well, I've been to two shows in the last three weeks, and found nothing that I would consider a good deal, let alone a great one. Not on a gun, or ammo, or anything else! Asking price for old beaters that I would expect to be $150-$250 were more like $400-$500, $400 guns were priced at $600-$800, guns that should have been $600 were marked $800-$1k, and so on. Most new guns were priced close to MSRP, or just a little below; certainly more than they can be found online, even allowing for shipping & transfer fees.

I've got a few guns that use some obscure old calibers; .38 ACP, .32-20, .41 Colt, and now .351 WSL. I'm always keeping my eyes open for ammo in these calibers, 'cause you're not going to run to Walmart, Academy, or the LGS for it! Between the two shows, I visited 5-6 vendors who sell rare old hard-to find ammo. Not a single round of any of these calibers to be found at any of them!

Guess I'm just venting a bit, but it was a little frustrating. I don't know that I've ever been to two consecutive gun shows where I walked away with nothing in hand, and all my money still snug in my pocket. [Hmmm, maybe that's not such a bad thing! :hand5:]

Anybody else notice this happening just lately?
 

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I last went to one about 3-4 years ago and wasn't impressed with what I saw. The "Gun Show Specials" prices were the same as the everyday LGS prices.
 
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I go to quite a few gun shows and most of the offerings are the latest greats plastic fantastic but there is the occasional gem to be found if you look long enough. A couple examples are the Colt Python I picked up for $2000 and the first generation Colt Detective Special for $500. I always look for vendors that have showcases on the table, that is where you find the jewels and I always have CIF (cash in fist).
 

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I really now only go to browse, and maybe socialize a little bit if I run into people I know. Most of the guns around here at shows seem to be at full retail, or close to it if new, and if used or vintage, maybe $100.00 dollars more than at most of the local gun stores, if they have anything comparable. I used to look for solid older S&W revolvers; the gunshow prices on those have gotten to be too rich for my blood, even on the common models.

I sometimes buy a box or two of ammo; that you can get at a somewhat decent price at times, decent but never a real bargain.

I think some vendors are anticipating a "run" on firearms and supplies in the upcoming election year, and are just getting ahead of the game a little. Sadly, the way the ill winds are blowing, they may be right.........
 

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Of course it depends on any given show, but most nowadays they seem to consist of the following:

- Tables and tables of black longguns and polystriker pistols.
- Tables with "antique" and "vintage" guns priced astronomically ("...this here re-finished mixmaster Colt SAA is EXACTLY like the one carried by Wyatt Earp and is a steal at $5,000!").
- Tables of scented candles, colon cleanse products, and essential Rasta gear.
 

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I usually find that gun show prices are even with, if not higher than regular prices when you factor in the cost to get in. Ocassionally I find something priced well, but when I do its usually not something Im interested in buying so it doesnt matter anyway. Unless Im just looking to kill some time, I dont usually find it worth my while to go.
 
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Been meh about guns shows for years. I can usually find what I want at a great price online or at my LGS if I’m patient.
 
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I quit going to gun shows a couple of years ago. The show is about 30+ miles from the house $12 to get in and hardly a deal to be found. Last deal I found was from a private party.
NIB Ruger SP 101 4.2 inch barrel $400 OTD. It has been a great shooter from the get go.
 

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I go to gun shows primarily for firearm accessories and other items.
If you are planning on buying a firearm be prepared to pay above average for it.
If you are selling a firearm be prepared to be offered below average for it.
 

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I have never been disappointed by a gun show. Fact is that I have never attended one. Although I did once go to a state fair where I saw the biggest cucumber I have ever seen. I thought about going to a gun show, but I was told attendees could not carry at the show. I do not go to gun free zones.
 

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I remember the Houston gun show they used to hold in the Astrodome. Went to a couple back in the early 80s. Looked forward to that again but I have been severely disappointed.
 
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I can still scare up something every so often, but must say that the complexion of the gun show has undergone a seismic shift in the past decade or so. I attribute it to two things.

1. Generational tastes in firearms have unmistakably and perhaps permanently changed and I would submit that those tastes have narrowed significantly as well. The market offers more "choices" than in the past, choices that somehow manage to reflect more sameness though.

2. The dealers in "collectible" firearms of all kinds finally scraped the bottom of the barrel of the "good ol' stuff" more than a decade ago. At this point they're turning the barrel upside down and beating out the dregs that had been stuck to the bottom of it. It's pitiful the volume of poor to fair condition to outright trash guns that is out there, along with Bubba's garage put-together franken-firearms that are to be seen. Then, it's all priced as if it's Elizabeth Taylor's La Peregrina Pearl Necklace by Cartier.

I'm finally a bit jaded. I once viewed the larger gun shows as a learning experience at the very least, as well as the candy store for one addicted to sugar highs. It used to be that one could compare makers' models, variants, condition, and pricing on any of a host of fine firearms, even more uncommonly seen models, while keeping up with the latest the market has to offer. There's little to be learned and absorbed anymore.

It's black and it's plastic and it's semi-automatic more often than not. Little else matters.
 

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You was had is all I'm gonna say.
 

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The recent Crossroads show in Phoenix was actually pretty decent. Son-in-law was hell bent on getting a revolver and in spite of me trying to put the brakes on, he left with an acceptable if not stellar .38 snub. I had different stuff I was looking for, but things that got my juices flowing were a couple of Colt 1911s in .38 Super for very reasonable prices (one used, one new). Some vendors had attractive prices on some newer Sig models and some Springfield 1911s, and there were very competitive prices on some name-brand optics (Weaver, Vortex and Athlon come to mind). The big ammo seller Miwall had case lots priced comparably with on-line sellers, with local sales tax being on a par with shipping fees.

Possibly the size of the Phoenix shows drives some of the pricing. The collectors/private sellers are always hard to gauge, but I sensed a little more flexibility among them in this last show than over the past couple of years.
 
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