In the last two years, gun shows hit an all-time low all over America as numerous events were being canceled left and right because of the pandemic, which is kind of understandable though personally, with the mask mandate and all, none of them should have been canceled. But it didn’t take too long and these days, gun shows are making a comeback in a big way. The number of gun purchases by new owners was extremely high last year, around the time the current administration was inaugurated, and even today there are many people who are new to the world of firearms and need tips on trivial matters such as how and where to get the best gun-related deals on guns, accessories, ammunition, and just about everything in between.

You may be one of those people I just mentioned who are new to the world of firearms, and you are probably watching this topic because you heard or read somewhere that the best deals can be found at gun shows. It is also very likely that you’ve never been to a gun show before and you’re doing your due diligence on the subject. If everything I just said applies to you and you want to make the most of your first-time visit to any gun show, stick around to the end of this topic where I’ll talk about things you should NEVER do at the gun show.

Table of Contents

1

Don’t go to the gun show knowing close to nothing about guns, accessories, and ammo in general. It goes without saying, but gun shows are places where you can get the most bang for your buck — if you at least have a sense of what is a good deal. You develop this sense by spending some time doing research on the subject, maybe talking to people working at your local gun store, or even going to online forums. You don’t have to be a subject matter expert or anything, but just have a general sense of the brands and models of the particular gun, accessory, or ammo you might be interested in before you go to any gun show. 

2

Don’t go to the gun show without knowing anything about pricing trends. While it’s true that you can find some of the best deals on guns, accessories, and ammo at a gun show, if you don’t even know the MSRP of the particular handgun model you’re looking to purchase, you can’t negotiate the best possible price you can get. 

Worse, there’s the occasional seller who would try to sell you something to which they added a higher-than-usual markup — mostly ones who buy and sell used guns — to turn a profit. You have to understand that these aren’t inherently bad people. Setting up shop at a gun show during weekends does take a lot of these people’s time and energy, and it is not a crime if they can make a couple of hundred dollars extra selling a product for much higher than they should. The onus is on you to do some research, to make sure you either pay the lowest possible price on something you intend to buy or you at least pay the MSRP so you don’t get ripped off.

3

Don’t be late. Time is of the essence if you’re going to the gun show so make sure you get there the earliest time of the day you can. If possible, you should be at the front door or at the gun show’s entrance an hour before they start letting people in so you’re first in line. The goal here is for you to be able to come in first and complete your first pass of the whole gun show scanning all the tables before any other person does because if there happen to be any good deals there and you don’t get to those first, they will be gone before you know it. Show up late and you won’t catch those deals let alone know that you missed out on any of them because they will all get bought up really fast.

4

Don’t go to the gun show with the wrong person. In fact, if it’s at all possible, you should just go to the gun show alone. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just nonchalantly walking around checking out deals that you might find interesting or you’re out there to locate a particular brand or make or model of a firearm or an accessory or ammo. If you’re going to the gun show, this rule applies to you. 

Now I understand some of you may want to go to the gun show with your significant other, or a friend, or maybe with some of your best buds, and while there’s really nothing wrong with that, you have to realize that there are potentially great deals at the gun show that people don’t just find anywhere else and any delays in you getting to them may cost you those deals. 

If you decide to go with your significant other or a good friend and they’re not exactly interested in any gun-related merchandise, you might find them spending time talking to people who are selling non-gun-related things — and you’d be surprised to know that despite gun shows being called gun shows, there are a lot of people there that don’t sell gun-related stuff — more on this later. 

So since you went there with that special someone or that good friend of yours, you probably just can’t leave them on their own while they talk to someone about some food item or some roof they’re selling. You can’t just leave them behind so you can scan the entire gun show because they ARE special to you, right?

Now, what if the person you plan to go to the gun show with is also into guns? Should you go with them? No, you shouldn’t go with them either. Why’s that? Because if you and that person see a good deal, either of you would have to voluntarily let the other make the purchase. Depending on how good of a deal it is, you two might end up trying to outbid each other, which could create a really awkward situation that neither of you should be in. So you should really just go to the gun show alone. 

There is an exception to this rule though. If you know of someone who’s a walking encyclopedia of gun-related products and pricing and they’re not really looking to make a purchase, you may want to try convincing this person to go to the gun show with you, especially if you’re not the type who likes to do research.

5

Don’t engage people selling non-gun-related stuff. In fact, you shouldn’t even look them in the eye. It’s just a problem that’s becoming more and more prevalent at gun shows, which is sad. Sure, these are mostly good people trying to make an honest living selling things, but we go to the gun show to look for deals on guns and other related merchandise. If I want a massage chair, there are places where I can find one. If I’m out looking for chocolate cake, there are tons of people everywhere making those, I wouldn’t go to a gun show for that. Common sense dictates these salespeople should not even try selling their wares at a gun show because no one would buy from them. But surprisingly, the opposite is true, as there are those who can easily be talked into buying non-gun-related stuff at gun shows, which is why the practice of selling non-gun-related things at gun shows is becoming a real issue. You have to understand, these are some of the pushiest, most aggressive commission-driven salespeople with salaries based on the number of sales they close. 

You make eye contact with them, they smile at you, ask you a few really quick close-ended questions to suck you in and before you know it, you’re reaching out for your wallet and handing them some of your hard-earned dollars for something you didn’t initially walk into the gun show to buy. Worse, you can potentially miss out on some good deals as others can get to those deals while you are sweet-talked into buying something non-gun-related.

I know it sounds cruel but purposefully acting aloof and ignoring people who sell all this non-gun-related stuff is the only way to fix this problem. If you can see in your peripheral vision that they’re selling non-gun-related stuff, don’t talk to them, don’t buy from them, don’t even look them in the eye.

6

Don’t just pay the asking price right away on anything that you might think is a good deal. Whatever you do, when you’re eyeing something at a gun show, always try to negotiate, because the prices of all gun-related merchandise at any gun show are negotiable. A gun show isn’t like a gun store where prices are mostly fixed, and from time to time you might even meet a private seller who goes to the gun show to sell a gun they own but don’t care about anymore. 

Depending on how whether they urgently need the money or they just really want to let go of their gun, if you have cash, you can just ask them what their best cash price is, try to offer half of that amount, and see how they would react. You can easily tell just by their body language alone if you can haggle your way to a good price both of you can agree on or if they’re firm with their asking price. If it doesn’t look like they’ll budge, then depending on how rare of a find or how good of a deal it is, you may have to pay their asking price which is okay, at least you tried to negotiate. But sometimes, they’ll knock off twenty bucks, fifty bucks, even a hundred bucks, and the more deals you find like that, the more money you save over a period of time.

7

Don’t just walk past a good deal. If whatever you’re trying to buy isn’t that rare or if the price being offered on it isn’t particularly exceptional, it won’t hurt to scan the entire gun show’s floor before you make any purchases, because you never know if you’re going to run into another seller at that same gun show who is selling the same exact thing at a much better price. But knowing how rare a particular brand, make or model of a gun, accessory, or ammo is, or what the best price for something is, all depends on your level of familiarity with guns in general, which is why doing research on the subject is important.

8

Don’t just make a payment without double-checking to make sure that you will get what you’ll pay for. When you’re scanning all the different guns and ammo at the gun show all the time making a million different comparisons in your head as quickly as you can, there are times when you inevitably overlook the little details that don’t seem to matter too much as you have to be really focused on things that do matter the most like brand, model, and price. It’s totally understandable, as the human brain can only process too much. 

But you may end up paying for something you did not intend to buy only to scratch your head when you realize you overlooked a tiny little detail. Case in point: a brand-name polymer handgun with many different chamberings. If you bought a Smith and Wesson M&P or a SIG P226 which you thought was chambered for 9mm but you later found out was chambered for some other caliber you don’t want, you’ll either have to stick with it or sell it at a loss to recoup your expenses. You can try contacting the seller to get a refund but not everyone is nice enough to accept change-of-mind returns. So before you make a purchase, make sure you double-check what you’re paying for.

9

Don’t even think of selling any firearm at the gun show. unless you’re okay with getting low-balled. If you’re thinking of going to a gun show to sell your gun, let me tell you now that you shouldn’t, so don’t even bother. Gun shows are full of cutthroat salespeople who employ the use of every trick in the book and have taken it upon themselves to get you to sell them whatever it is you’re selling for much, much lower than its fair market value. They then get to add a markup and sell it at a profit. 

I already kind of touched on this earlier in the topic when I said “Don’t go to the gun show without knowing anything about pricing trends”. They are not really bad people — they are only trying to make ends meet by buying and selling used guns at the gun show. Most of the time, it’s their full-time job or maybe a side hustle. What they do is they try to buy whatever you’re selling at half of its fair market value, then they try to sell it at twice the amount they paid you for it so they make double their money. 

If you want to sell your gun at the best possible price you can get for it, go to your local gun store and ask around if they know anyone who’s interested in the particular model you’re selling. You probably won’t be able to sell it right away but the longer you’re willing to wait, the higher the likelihood your local gun store can hook you up with someone who is willing to pay the price you want for your gun.

10

Don’t be rude. The gun community has a reputation for being one of — if not the nicest, most polite communities out there. People who are passionate about guns are generally very warm and welcoming to anyone who is new to the world of firearms. If you’re in a heightened emotional state or you have mood swings or any kind of emotional issues, don’t go to a gun show or a gun store or any place where there are guns. Take your time, calm down and take a few deep breaths before you enter the gun show. 

Be kind and nice and offer to help people who are new to firearms and have questions about guns. Who knows, you might make new friends and acquaintances. You may even end up meeting private sellers and finding better deals on guns and ammunition outside of the gun show. If nothing else, being friendly goes a long way when trying to negotiate better prices on just about anything in general.

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