Going to my first gun show soon; what should I expect?

Discussion in 'Large-Bore/Small-Bore Rifle/Shotgun' started by Idempotent, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. Idempotent

    Idempotent New Member

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    Greetings everyone. I posted on this forum awhile ago seeking advice on buying my first centerfire rifle. I finally decided that I wanted a .308 bolt-action of some variety, but after that I got distracted and didn't end up actually buying one.

    However, I did just go to the range last weekend to shoot my .22 rifle again, which got me interested in finding that .308 again. The guy next to me was shooting a .308 (well, actually, he was firing 7.62x51mm NATO, but close enough) and he was clearly having a totally different experience than I was. Needless to say, now I want one really badly. And the ability to do long-range target shooting is really appealing to me. I like shooting the .22 at 100 yards, but if I want to go a lot longer than that, I'll need something heavier.

    So there's a local gun show on April 13 that I'll be going to (put on by some company called Silverado; anyone have anything to say about them?). I've never been to a gun show before and I have little idea of what to expect. The closest thing I've ever been to is a hamfest, so if it's at all similar, I'm expecting mostly cash transactions, lots of small booths of individuals selling stuff, and a decent amount of possible haggling. I'll definitely be bringing enough cash to buy the kind of rifle that I'm looking for outright ($700 ought to cover it? Do I need more?).

    Other than that, what do I need to watch out for? Are there any common scams that people try to pull at gun shows? How do I navigate through 300 booths and find the best firearm that meets my qualifications at the best price? Basically all I want is a bolt-action rifle in .308 caliber. If it can handle mil surplus 7.62x51 ammo, then so much the better (But how do I know if it can? Lots of research beforehand?). I'm not picky about the manufacturer, but I am looking for a quality rifle. Should I just limit it to any of the more well-known and trusted brands, say, Remington, Weatherby, Savage, Winchester, Browning, Ruger, Sako, .. any others? And how do I make sure that I'm not buying a dud from a reputable manufacturer that someone is offloading just because it is horrible?

    I know it's a lot of questions there, but I don't want to screw up this important purchase. Thanks in advance for all of your help!
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  2. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

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    First off, any rifle marked ".308 Win" will safely handle 7.62x51 ammo.

    Second, there will be numerous booths, and you'll likely have a chance to buy everything from bumper stickers to .50 cal Barrett rifles (if it's a big show, that is). It is a lot like a flea market where everyone is selling gun-related stuff.

    Finally, good luck, and happy shooting! :)
  3. wpage

    wpage Active Member

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    Have fun and bring cash....
  4. sorral

    sorral New Member

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    I say...Have fun! I know I love to go to our local gun shows. As far as you being worried about scams and such, bring a friend or range buddy to help you identify the condition of any gun you wish to buy. I also like to skip over the small "garage sale" looking booth, and stick to a gun shop's booth for buying guns. Just my $.02!
  5. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR New Member

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    Have fun, but know what things are worth. Its helpful to do a little homework on values before you go. Some of the vendors feed on the unknowing and get you on pricing. Sometimes some of the vendors will charge for something used and a new one is only 50 bucks more. There will be lots to look at and take your time but if you see what you want and at a price you like get it, if you do a go around it may not be there when you get back. I've been at shows for 5 hrs and I've been at them for 5 min. Just depends.
  6. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    gunshows are alot like flea markets. You can almost always haggle your way to a better price... Unless youre buying primers:mad: the vendors know the next guy will pay what they want and buy in bulk:(
  7. The_Rifleman

    The_Rifleman New Member

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  8. Idempotent

    Idempotent New Member

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    Hrmm ... Howa, I'll look into them. I hadn't heard of them before.

    As for doing my research, I've just been making a list of all of the rifles in .308 Win that I'm interested in by the manufacturers I listed. The list includes the MSRP of each rifle. I'll have that with me at the gun show so I know I'm not getting ripped off too badly.

    So my question now is -- how much does MSRP actually reflect what a firearm sells for? I know that in musical equipment MSRP is typically 30-40% above the "new" price. If I find, say, a rifle in really good condition at the gun show that is 20% below MSRP, is that a good deal, or would that be roughly the same as what I could find it for at a gun store anyway? (Keep in mind I'm in metropolitan DC, so prices here probably aren't as low as in many other places, if for no other reason than rent isn't as low as in many other places either.)
  9. Agentwil

    Agentwil New Member

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    A gun show lets see what to expect. Tons of crap and everything over priced. I like to try and keep my purchases local with businesses I like. Have you talked with your local gun shop on their best price?
  10. Idempotent

    Idempotent New Member

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    That's a good point Agentwil. The gun show is the weekend after next; thus, I shall go to a local gun store this weekend.
  11. bluesea112

    bluesea112 Active Member

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    Just do your research on prices. Figure out ahead of time the maximum amount you are willing to pay for each brand or a particular model.
  12. Agentwil

    Agentwil New Member

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    I got a great shop in town with a great owner who is always there to help me any questions and tips on on hunting, reloading, and shooting. He is always ready to talk and just hang out. I really appreciate his friendship and he always gives me a great deal and always stands behind his products. I hate to think that in 10 years our only choice will be walmat.
  13. Idempotent

    Idempotent New Member

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    I got the date wrong in the original post. It was actually April 3, not 13. So here's my report.

    First of all, it was a lot like the hamfests that I've been to. This isn't that surprising. I expect that any sort of convention/show where merchants come to sell stuff will be pretty much the same.

    I was kind of disappointed in the firearm selection. There weren't that many decent-sized dealers with wares on display (no more than a dozen), and each one probably had no more than a dozen centerfire bolt-action rifles. Two dealers did have huge swaths of handguns -- hundreds of them between the two -- but not what I was looking for.

    And the dealers who were there were, well, dealers. That is to say they were basically just gun stores from the (relatively) local area that brought in some of their wares to try to sell. So while it was convenient to be able to go to one place and see the selection of a bunch of different gun stores, it was also inconvenient because each dealer was only bringing a part of their collection.

    I didn't end up getting anything, save for a $3 used rifle soft case. There were maybe six bolt-action rifles in .308 at the entire show, none of which met my specifications exactly. And the prices on them weren't amazing -- none was more than $100 below MSRP. Since nobody had exactly what I wanted, I decided not to get anything.

    I guess what I expected when I heard "gun show" was a huge show with lots of people selling used firearms, and I would be able to get a good deal. That didn't end up happening. In fact, I barely saw anything used for sale at all. Maybe I need to go to a better/larger/different show? As it is, I can find much better deals on a certain gun auction site than I saw at that show.

    So I think I might just go the online auction route. I'm thinking I should look for a good used rifle in excellent like-new condition with scope attached. Judging from auction prices online, even after including the $75 FFL fee my local gun store charges, it should come out less than the MSRP for just the new price of the rifle that I want (say, a Remington 700 BDL).

    And one minor side note - what the hell was up with all of the Nazi paraphernalia at the gun show? I sort of understand the antiques dealer who were selling an authentic 1940s "German Party" flag (ahem, guys, that's just a big old Swastika, and I must've missed that day in history class when they covered the "German Party" because all I learned about was the Nazi Party). But then there was one dealer that was selling a $20 baseball cap with a swastika on the front, and a knife dealer selling cheap stainless steel Made In China knives for $5-10 that had a swastika on one of the knives.

    What in the hell? My grandfather was in the Army during World War II, and he fought on our side. In fact, if he had been there at that gun show, I could tell you exactly what he would've said: "What in the f@$&ing hell is this g$#!^n foolishness??"
  14. pinecone70

    pinecone70 Active Member

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    Yes, typical gun show. In my experience, local dealers show up at the shows, but I also see quite a few private sellers around here. Lots of 'collectibles', like that Nazi variety of stuff.

    Good gravy, $75 for an FFL fee?!?! I have never paid more than $20, maybe you should check around.
  15. Idempotent

    Idempotent New Member

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    Thanks for the price information. I just used *********'s FFL locator and I found one that's $30. That's a bit more sensible. I can't find any lower than that in the Washington DC area though. This isn't the lowest rent district. I can deal with $30 though, especially since I'll be saving way more than $30 just by not buying from a local gun store.
  16. wpage

    wpage Active Member

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    Good luck and leave extra time to make offers leave and come back after tea and crumpets for the final solution offer...
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