The Gun Show Myth

Posted: January 13, 2012 in Opinions, Editorials, Rants & Raves

At least a couple of times a month, I will have someone come into my store looking at guns, who will then proceed to argue with me over my prices and say something to the effect of “Well, I’ll just go to the gun show this weekend and get the same gun for half the price.”

To which I will generally respond, “No, you won’t. You’ll find the same gun marked up 40-50%, and you’ll be back here Monday buying from me.”

It’s pretty simple, guys. You go to a gun show to get a deal on beef jerky in bulk, not on guns.

Let me explain. I have nothing against gun shows. As a matter of fact, I rather like them. I like going to them, walking around, seeing all the stereotypical “gun show types”, the booth girls, hearing the constant “BZZZZT!!!” of the stun gun dealers demonstrating their wares, the overpriced, lukewarm beer, all of it. I will, occasionally, even set up a table at a show, or, more often, share a table with another dealer friend. I enjoy the whole gun show experience, and I think that there are few things more “American” than a gun show.

That said, if you’re going to a gun show intent on finding an awesome deal on some current-production firearm, you’re most likely going to leave disappointed. That isn’t to say that you won’t find a deal on parts for your AR, or magazines for your AK, or an extractor for the pre-64 Winchester lever gun, because you will. You’ll also probably find at least one booth that’s selling ammo in bulk on the cheap, which, for people in our hobby, is the Holy Grail of shooting. But a deal on a new-in-box, current-production firearm?

Not very likely.

Why? It’s simple, really. The majority of vendors at gun shows are a lot like carnies. They don’t know you, they don’t care about you, and they’ll likely never have to see you again after the sale is made. They don’t really give a shit about you or what you want, and they don’t really care whether you buy or not, because if you don’t, one of the thousands of people walking past their booth every hour for two days will. And they know that most people are under the mistaken impression that the gun show is the place to find deals, so they rarely get questioned on their prices. This has changed a bit in the last few years with the advent of smartphones and tablets, where people can instantly check online to see how their prices line out with the market as a whole, but the vast majority of people can’t be bothered with that. They still think gun show equals awesome deals, and they take that attitude (and their wallet) with them.

And after the gun show is over, the carnies all pack up and move on to the next set of marks, not to return for another year (if ever). God forbid you get sold a lemon. At that point, your only recourse is to hope for some factory warranty support, because the guy you bought the gun from is now 3 states away selling the same overpriced crap to some other mark. Of course, you may luck out and run into that vendor at another show, but, if it’s a large show (here in Oklahoma we have some shows where there are 4-or 5 thousand vendor tables), good luck finding them in the crush of people.

My point is this: You go to a gun show for deals on beef jerky and ammo, and to find parts for that obscure rifle you inherited from your crazy uncle (you know the uncle I’m talking about, he’s the one that everyone refers to in hushed tones at family gatherings). You go to look at scantily clad booth babes, and to get information on upcoming releases from manufacturers.

But don’t go looking for a deal on a new gun, because chances are you’ll be leaving disappointed and with sore feet.

And we all know how much sore feet suck.

-Rich out.