Have Gun Shows Changed?

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by SonicBlue03, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. SonicBlue03

    Well-Known Member

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    To preface the discussion, I believe the last gun show I attended (Spokane County Fairgrounds) was around 1996, so admittedly it's been a very long time since I attended one.

    When I was a (semi-) regular attendee of the local gun shows where I lived, I found that the makeup of the shows tended (roughly) to break down into the following percentages:

    25% military and exotic weapons
    40% hunting or non-military rifles/pistols
    15% "old west" type firearms/goods for display
    15% ammunition/book/misc sales
    5% knives

    Toward the end of my attendance it seemed that more and more of the exotics would poke their heads up with gun show premium markups (what is now known as the Craigslist Phenomenon...where an item in questionable condition automatically increases fivefold in value because the owner, "knows what one sold for on television!") but overall those percentages seemed to be fairly inline with the representation.

    Fast forward to this weekend. I took the opportunity to cruise over to Monroe for the WAC show with a buddy as I've never attended one on this side of the state and wanted to see what it was like, plus my buddy was looking to upgrade his hunting rifle status. I've heard that Puyallup is where one really needs to go to experience it, but in the next few weeks my weekends won't allow the time I need to drive down there and putz around.

    My percentages are probably off, but below is how I'd swag the numbers above as being different:

    55% military and exotic weapons
    15% hunting or non-military rifles/pistols
    15% "old west" type firearms/goods for display
    7.5% ammunition/book/misc sales
    7.5% knives

    It seemed like EVERY table had a plethora of AR parts and accessories, finding about 1,001 different ways to slice the same tomato. Some very fairly prices, and some ridiculously priced.

    Is that generally how shows are nowadays? What do most of you look for when you go to shows today? Do you find yourself going to pick up parts, to looky loo, or are you looking for that next gun to add to the safe?
  2. billinvancouver

    Vancouver WA
    New Member

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    Sign of the times, the consumer wants "Black Guns" and with the huge surge of gun dealer and manufactures building them and selling them it tends to make up most of the shows now. It maybe has to do with the AR-15 is somthing semi-new to tinker with for most people or playing on the fear that they maybe gone soon and with that comes price.
  3. SonicBlue03

    Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I guess so. I remember when you could find tables to T/C actions and barrels. I think I saw one yesterday, and it looked neglected.

    I guess I'm getting old :(
  4. Throckmorton

    Florence,Ore ah gone
    Well-Known Member

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    Black rifles are THE item now,and have been for several years. Also very popular now are old milsurp guns such as the Mosins..you get a very accurate rifle for not a lot of money.
    When I go...which is seldom...I go just for being around a lot of gun people and a lot of guns,but look mainly at tables for misc. stuff...partial boxes of ammo,holsters,dies, etc.
  5. raindog

    Portland, OR
    Active Member

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    Yes, though as far as milsurps go, Mosins are about 90% of the market right now, with Yugo M48s and 24/47s being the other 10%. Ten years ago, you'd see Enfields, various Mausers, Swiss carbines, Krags, Garands, etc. Today you just see Mosins and a few high-priced U.S. rifles.

    You can still get Mausers, Swiss carbines, etc., but most of that trade has moved to the Internet.
  6. raindog

    Portland, OR
    Active Member

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    I'd say:

    5% tweezers
    5% Sham-wow
    5% beanie babies
    5% militia literature
    5% fudge
    5% granola snacks
    5% survival tablets
    5% dollar knives
    5% devices to "legally turn your rifle to full auto!!!"
    5% dollar flashlights
    5% Northwest Firearms booth babes pushing T-shirts
    5% blowguns
    5% Native American memorabilia
    5% wood carvings of Humvees, P-47s, and El Caminos
    5% paperback romances from the 1970s
    5% miscellaneous strips of leather
    5% buffalo jerky
    5% body armor
    5% children's toys

    ...leaving about 5% for the actual guns.

    But yeah, I love walking around gun shows ;-)
  7. Sun195

    Pugetropolis, WA
    Well-Known Member

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    I think you missed a couple of non-gun-related categories, but who wants to use fractional percentages to list them all. ;)

    I actually just like to go to be around other "gun people" & look at junk (gun-related or not).

    Back to the original topic, I'd speculate that the shooting public has changed. I used to know a lot more people for whom shooting = hunting. Then, home defense = a revolver in the night stand and maybe a shotgun behind the door. Now, it's more shooting = home defense/etc. and that means (to many people, not all) black rifles, hi-cap handguns and shotguns in various configurations. There's certainly a part of me that wonders if we're really any safer/better at home defense w/ all of this tac stuff than folks who relied on just whatever was handy.
  8. wavo


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    Great Topic! I was just talking about this last night with my girlfriend. She has never been to a gun show and has never been around guns until she met me. I get the feeling she's still a little unsure about the whole thing, but I told her that I had planned on going to the Nov gun show to "check things out" and she asked if she could go along! (I didn't expect that)

    I asked her what she thought went on at a gun and knife show and she figured there were hunters and stuff, and booths of food and perhaps an area where your kids could pose with people dressed up in costume of a gun and knife, affectionately known as "McShooterson and stabby". :laugh: Made me laugh, told her it was not quite like that and people were fairly nice and it's all very 'interesting'. I took her to her first gun shop this weekend and she was surprised at the number of women in there and the women working the counters too, it was good for her to see.

    Good list raindog!
  9. Oro

    Western WA
    Active Member

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    Yep, just catering to the market...

    I hate to admit it, but I laughed out loud at that and spit out some cofee...! Global inter-web "post of the week" in my book... But hey - sometimes you need miscellaneous strips of leather. Or are you not into bondage or own horses? ;)

    Seriously, If you attend enough gun shows you just learn to pivot your head and only steer towards the tables that register "blue or brown" - e.g. - there's real wood or blued steel on display. Monroe is an OK show. I live about 25 minutes away and am a WAC member, so go to every other one or so. Puyallup is better because it's three to four times the size, but still the same percentage of beanie babies/sham-wow and chocolate covered almonds (actually bought some at Monroe this weekend - they were good!). But it's an annoying drive so I don't go as often - especially in the summer when there are better/prettier things to do on a weekend. But in the rainy winter I go more often.

    You, like I, seem to long for the days of gun shows circa 1980 -tables of Colt GM's for $200 bucks and S&W's for $125. Crates of milsurp 45 and 30-06 you didn't buy just because it was too heavy to carry around or out to the car. Yes, kids, these are facts - not wishful dreams! Ah, those were the days. You are now looking at a consumer base who hears the word "Halo" and thinks of an AR-15 and a first person shooter game, not a "state of grace." An interesting experiment is to people watch at gun shows. It's 45% old folks who think like you and I, 45% people under 27 who want black rifles, and only 10% in-between.

    Remember the days we "passed" on $150 military colts and $100 AK 47s because they "were junk?" :rollingeyes: If only the retirement funds were invested in that instead of tech stocks...
  10. BillM

    Amity OR
    Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Yes, the content seems to be working toward more polymer and
    "tactical" stuff. That's just the market talking. Not sure it's the market talking on the beef jerky, beanie babies and just junk--if it is I wish
    it would shut up.

    Some of the shows have sure changed. Expo for one--it's NOTHING
    compared to what it was. It used to be an all day affair--you could
    walk tables for 6-7 hours and still not see it all. Remember the guy just inside
    the door on the left with every variation of the 1903 Springfield? Or the
    Brit with the little red pom-pom on his hat--clear against the back
    wall--with every Enfield ever thought of? Not for sale, just for display.

    Anymore I tend to hit the smaller independent shows. You can find some
    neat stuff, and some of the exibitors only do one or two shows a year.

    Albany Rifle and Pistol Club, Yamhill County Sportsmans Association,
    Rickreall, East Albany Lions Club, Lebanon Elks--all put on at least one
    show a year.
  11. PlayboyPenguin

    Vancouver, WA
    Well-Known Member 2016 Volunteer

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    Did you just call Joey a "babe?" I will admit he has his charms...but a babe??? I do not think so. :D

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