Dealing with Gun Shows

By on September 10, 2015

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I love gun shows and try to go to several a year. When I lived in California, there were only 2 or 3 shows a year. Here in San Antonio, there are 2 or 3 a month. It’s kind of cool to spend the $5 just to get in and walk around to see all the stuff. Every weekend I work for Sparks Firearms selling guns at the show. I have a blast and get to meet a lot of people (and they pay me to be at a gun show!). Some people are new to the firearms world and some are experts. Talking to other dealers is always a lot of fun too.

I noticed there are 4 different kinds of people at the show. Lots of people just there to look around (that’s normally me when I go), people looking for a gun and don’t know what they want, people looking for a certain gun, and people there to just spend money on something cool they find. All of them are great and I get to talk to a bunch in each category.

Here are a couple of tips about buying something at a gun show. If you are looking for a certain gun, know the price that it goes for normally. You can easily find the MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) on the company’s web site. Start your journey there. Most gun dealers are selling things below that price again and you should be able to find something 5% to 10% below that price, unless you are looking for the hottest gun on the market or something rare. Rare right now is the FN FiveseveN pistol. I have lots of people ask me for these guns. Getting an FN FiveseveN for sale is almost impossible.

If you are looking for that rare gun, that no one seems to have, expect to pay over MSRP, and when you find it, just buy it. Don’t bother looking any further. If you are looking for one, there are probably 10 other people looking for one, also. If you are looking for something that is hot, don’t expect to have the dealer make a deal with you. The dealer knows he can sell it for full retail. If you are going to shop around, make it quick, because the best price is going to go fast. And don’t ask the dealer to hold something for you at the show, that’s just insulting. He knows you are going to go look around and if you find something for a better price he’ll never see you again.

If you don’t know what gun you want and are going to find out, that’s okay, but don’t expect dealers to spend a lot of time with you. They normally have twice as many people standing around the table than people working the table. If you do find the rare dealer that has extra personnel working and has time to explain differences in rifles or handguns and helps you pick out the perfect gun for you, just buy the gun from that dealer. Spending an hour with someone is worth a lot of money at a gun show. Some of the dealers are very experienced and will give you free lessons on how to use the gun as you are picking the right one. That knowledge is worth way more than you can save by shopping around. And again, it’s really insulting to the dealer if he spends all that time with you and then you say, “Now I’m going to find a cheaper price, thanks.”

It’s okay to ask for a better price. The dealer may or may not give it to you. You can even try to have the dealer price match someone else. But in the end, it’s a business and the dealer bought that gun for a given price and isn’t going to give it to you cheaper than they bought it for. And the dealer has to make a profit to stay in business, to pay the people that work for him, and to pay for the table to be at the show.

Lastly, the worst thing you can do is stand there and tell the dealer how another shop down the street is better than his table at the gun show. I had someone come in and start talking to me (a dealer at the show) about how great another gun shop is in town. And the other shop is a great shop, so I agreed. But then he went on and on about how he does all his business there and how he had an in with the owner. All I could think about was, “Why the hell are you talking to me?” After a couple of minutes of wasting my time, I finally said, “That’s nice, go buy your guns from them.” And turned around and walked away. He was insulted that I wouldn’t listen to him even-though he had no intention of ever buying something from me. Dealers are their to make a profit to stay in business, pay their people, and serve people, I can’t do any of those if someone is just killing time with me at a show. To much else going on.

The dealers at shows are people in the gun industry and in the same world as you. They want to help you get the best possible gun for you at the best possible price, with rare exception. Kindness goes a long way to getting a good deal. Enjoy your time at gun shows and make friends with the dealers, most of them are great people doing something they love.

Prepare for the worst… Hope for the best,

Ben Branam


This post was originally posted on Modern Self Protection

Posted in: Buying a Gun