The Gun Show

Last weekend there was a gun show in my area, so I grabbed a few of the safe queens I was no longer planning to keep and decided to head on down to trade/sell my wares as well as look for some items I needed. As I got to talking with folks there, and dickering (yes, it’s a word), with the patrons there, I realized I didn’t approach this very well at all, and I feel a lot of people are not prepared for that situation so I figured I would give some tips and tricks.

If selling, know what you want:

I went in with two higher-end guns, both in pretty good condition, with the intent to sell them as I no longer use them. I made it five steps in when someone noticed the blue box and asked, “What you got there,” and after explaining, he followed up with “How much.” I told him, and he smiled and said he would have to pass. This conversation happened before I met a chattier vendor and asked, “What’s the deal? Am I too high?” If I was making a private party sale, he said, according to the online auctions, the Blue Book of Gun Values, I was right where I needed to be. The problem is that many gun show vendors were looking to make a profit, which I understand, but they were looking for desperation to sell and re-sale that day or shortly. He also explained that within the last 12 months, many vendors simply ran out of inventory, so they bought a lot at higher prices to sell at even higher prices and were sitting on a lot of money and inventory. Bringing in a higher-end pistol or rifle meant more money sitting waiting for that buyer, so bringing in cheaper models they could flip that day was more beneficial.

Get only what you need:

As stated above, they are in the business to make a profit, which means selling to you whatever they can get you to buy. Most of these vendors mark up to cover the cost of the table, gas, hotel, or other expenses compared to an online retailer, which is less of an issue but knows what they are going for on the market. I saw AR-15 Magazines going for 20-50% higher, a used Ruger 57 pistol being sold for more than a new one two tables down, and ammunition at nearly 100% markup (but they had it available).

Don’t be afraid to dicker:

Negotiations are the name of the game there, and while you might not get a lot off a new firearm, many of the used items can be substantially cheaper if you show the cash in hand.

Come with cash:

Cash is king, with most venues charging 3% for Credit card transactions. The event center I was in had ATMs available but charged $4 per transaction with a $200 limit.

Have thick skin:

I love the negotiations, but I know they are trying to get a good deal…for them. Unlike a car dealer, pawnshop, or elsewhere that might care about your reviews, these vendors tend not to care. Most are amiable enough, and some are downright nice, especially if they want something. One of the nicest gents there really wanted my pistol and buttered me up something fierce, then offered about $1000 less than the value of the gun. Refer to numbers one and two; know what you want and only take what you need.

Also be sure to check out JM4 Tactical for your holster needs!

Author: Ian Bolser