A Field Guide to Gun Shows: Part One

Discussion in 'Open Mic' started by limbkiller, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. limbkiller

    limbkiller Pulling my hair. Supporting Addict

    Aug 18, 2011
    VERY HIGH POWER, The Magazine of the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association | 02-2004 | Jim Sebring, VERY HIGH POWER Proofer

    "Recently there have been some posts regarding information on gun shows, and how they are run and what to expect.
    Gun shows are an old and honored American tradition. The basic idea; putting sellers, buyers, and stock in the same room and letting the Free Market Forces go to work is as old as commerce, but the American form of gun shows has evolved it's own manners, vocabulary, and etiquette.

    Gun shows are run by, and for, dreamers. Every dealer who sets up a table seems to think that the people who attend are half-wits who will happily pay 25% more than manufacturer's suggested retail price for their goods; and all the attendees hold it as an article of faith that the exhibitors are desperate men who have come in the hopes of finally disposing of their stock at 30% less than wholesale cost.
    In this environment it helps to have some idea what to expect; so for the benefit of those who are so unfortunate as never to have experienced this distinctively American form of mass entertainment, I offer this guide, the summation of what I've learned from 30 years of show-going. I've included a glossary of terms you'll need to know; and an introduction to some of the people you'll meet.


    The following terms apply to items offered for sale:

    MINT CONDITION: In original condition as manufactured, unfired, and preferably in the original box with all manufacturer's tags, labels, and paperwork.

    NEAR-MINT CONDITION: Has had no more than 5,000 rounds fired through it and it still retains at least 60% of the original finish. Surface pitting is no more than 1/8" deep, and both grip panels are in place. If it is a .22, some of the rifling is still visible.

    VERY GOOD: Non-functional when you buy it, but you can probably get it to work if you replace 100% of the parts.

    FAIR: Rusted into a solid mass with a shape vaguely reminiscent of a firearm.

    TIGHT: In revolvers, the cylinder swings out, but you need both hands to close it again. For autoloaders, you must bang the front of the slide on a table to push it back.

    REALLY TIGHT: In revolvers you cannot open the cylinder without a lever. Once it's open the extractor rod gets stuck halfway through it's travel. On autoloaders, you need a hammer to close the slide.

    A LITTLE LOOSE: In revolvers, the cylinder falls out and the chambers are 1/4" out of line when locked up. There is no more than 1/2" of end play. For autoloaders, the barrel falls out when the slide is retracted. If the barrel stays in place, the slide falls off.

    GOOD BORE: You can tell it was once rifled and even approximately how many grooves there were.

    FAIR BORE: Would be similar to a GOOD BORE, if you could see light through it.

    NEEDS A LITTLE WORK: May function sometimes if you have a gunsmith replace minor parts, such as the bolt, cylinder, or barrel.

    ARSENAL RECONDITIONED: I cleaned it up with a wire wheel and some stuff I bought at K-Mart.

    ANTIQUE: I found it in a barn, and I think it dates from before 1960. Note that ANTIQUE guns are usually found in FAIR condition.

    RARE VARIANT: No more than 500,000 of this model were ever made, not counting the ones produced before serial numbers were required. RARE VARIANTS command a premium price of 150% of BOOK VALUE.

    BOOK VALUE: An irrational number which dealers consider insultingly low and buyers ridiculously high. Since no one pays any attention to it, it doesn't matter.

    IT BELONGED TO MY GRANDFATHER: I bought it at a flea market two weeks ago.

    CIVIL WAR RELIC: The vendor's great-grandfather knew a man whose friend had been in the Civil War.

    SHOOTS REAL GOOD: For rifles, this means at 100 yards it will put every shot into a 14" circle if there isn't any wind and you're using a machine rest. For handguns, three out of six rounds will impact a silhouette target at seven yards. In shotguns, it means that the full choke tube throws 60% patterns with holes no bigger than 8" in them.

    ON CONSIGNMENT: The vendor at the show does not own the gun. It belongs to a friend, customer, or business associate, and he has been instructed to sell it, for which he will be paid a commission. He has no authority to discuss price. The price marked is 150% above BOOK VALUE.
    All used guns, without exception, are ON CONSIGNMENT, and the dealer is required by his Code of Ethics to tell you this as soon as you ask the price.

    I'LL LET IT GO FOR WHAT I HAVE IN IT: I'll settle for what I paid for it plus 250% profit.

    MAKE ME AN OFFER: How dumb are you?

    TELL ME HOW MUCH IT'S WORTH TO YOU: I'll bet you're even dumber than you look.
    Uncle Bob, FWoo45, 2sharp2 and 16 others like this.
  2. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Consider my signature line before replying . . . .

    Dec 4, 2014
    "Make me an offer" - love that one.
    FWoo45, xerts1191 and Blue Ridge like this.

  3. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Consider my signature line before replying . . . .

    Dec 4, 2014
    Very good to near-mint condition.

    Slide is tight until you break loose the oxide upon which it becomes a little loose.

    A real antique that belonged to my grandfather. It's been arsenal reconditioned as evidenced by the AA stamp on the frame.

    This one is a rare varient, actually unique, as it's the only one that bears this serial number.

    This one has it all!

    Make me an offer, tell me what it's worth to you . . . .

    I will only accept offers at or above book value on this one, or trades that are heavily in my favor . . . .

    Deadpool 1911-008.JPG

    Deadpool 1911-016.JPG
    1911 dawg, FWoo45, xerts1191 and 5 others like this.

    DRYHUMOR Well-Known Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    I like the signs on Winchester lever guns that state “pre 64”.

    Or “pre ban” semis, which really doesn’t mean a lot either.
    xerts1191 likes this.
  5. july19

    july19 Womb? Weary? He rests. He has travelled. Supporting Addict

    Sep 16, 2013
    It’s been about 15 years since I’ve seen any gun worth buying at a gun show.
    Good write-up.
  6. Ingramite

    Ingramite On The Lost Highway

    Sep 16, 2018
    He told me it was "Organic Engraving"
    FWoo45, xerts1191 and ZoidMeister like this.
  7. Blue Ridge

    Blue Ridge Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2011
    I hit my locals most every time there's a show, have since the 80's. Pretty sure I've never left with a gun, but do get some jerky and a silly gag gift confederate flag with a big buck or largemouth bass on it sometimes.
    Kip and xerts1191 like this.
  8. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Consider my signature line before replying . . . .

    Dec 4, 2014
    That's a good one!

    Mother Nature's finest . . . .
  9. xerts1191

    xerts1191 Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2017
    Great people watching events!
    1911 dawg likes this.
  10. FWoo45

    FWoo45 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2017
    It is worth nothing without the zip ties!!
    Kip and ZoidMeister like this.
  11. azguy1911

    azguy1911 I'm done buying guns, I'm just a bystander now

    Oct 22, 2015
    Freakin funny as hell.....and sadly true :roflmaro:
    1911 dawg likes this.
  12. monadh

    monadh Sapientiae Timor Domini Initium

    May 8, 2012
    Tomorrow is the Wanenmacher Show in Tulsa. Here is a good description of the scale of it.


    I am not in the market for anything now due to saving for something I REALLY want, but if I were, those tips might be useful.
    ZoidMeister likes this.
  13. Ingramite

    Ingramite On The Lost Highway

    Sep 16, 2018
    I buy high
    Sell Low
    And trade down

    So I'm pretty much the star of the show when I make the set.
    FWoo45, 1911 dawg and ZoidMeister like this.
  14. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Consider my signature line before replying . . . .

    Dec 4, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
    xerts1191, Acroyer, Ingramite and 5 others like this.

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