Some Notes to the New Guys (or Gun Show Follies)
I really enjoy going to gun shows. I usually drag Liebie along with me once a month or so and go people watch and see what kind of deals fall into our lap. We also spend a lot of time at the range. In one of our range session, it is nothing to go through 1500 rounds of various caliber ammunition. So we try to keep stocked up by finding some deals on ammo. Yes I know, the per round cost is much cheaper on the internet, but not usually after you factor in shipping. We have gotten to know some of the dealers and collectors at more than a couple of tables, and sometimes they can steer us to deals either they have, or heard someone else has. Most of the dealers I have talked to seem reputable, there are some shysters there as with any business, but for the most part if you are respectful and courteous to them, they tend to treat you the same way back. I don’t really go there expecting the “big score” on any mainstream products, those types of deals usually only come along when a private seller needs to sell something quick because they have their tit in the wringer, or an estate sale where the person assigning value on things comes across some firearms that they don’t have the time to look into, or just want the deals closed as quickly as possible. Once in a while you can still find a gem, though. Liebie picked up a High Standard 1953 Field King .22 that she loves to shoot, for about $150 under value.
There are four venues in the area within 50 miles of my driveway. Niles, Berea, Akron, and Medina usually alternate sites each week or two. The downside is it has become an occupation for many of the same dealers each week, so even though the building is different, it is pretty much the same people trying to sell you stuff at each show. It is a decent mix of everything from bigger retail type operations, to small mom and pop type stores with enough private sellers in there to make it interesting. Then of course you have your junk knives, beef jerky, and tactical flashlights that fall apart minutes after you leave the show. And of course you have your political tables near each election, people just selling some really random stuff, like remote control helicopters, and the Nazis have a table there, which I can’t figure out, since after watching them for about a decade, I don’t think I have ever seen anyone take their literature and certainly have not seen anyone buy or wear one of their t-shirts. At least it keeps them off the streets, I guess.
The customers are actually pretty diverse and entertaining themselves. There are several types that you can guarantee are going to be there every time, operating in the same manner. At the risk of being discriminatory, I will attempt to describe each group and how they operate.
First you have the F.U.D.D. Hunter. They usually sneer in disgust past the AR’s and Glocks, wearing their Mossy Oak cammie with their deer tag holder on the back which is either empty, or has a tag from the special 3 day hunt they went on in 1982. They can usually be found poring over the Benelli R1 hunting rifles in .270 WSM, or staring nostalgically at the Savage 14/114 American Classic chambered in .243 Winchester that reminds them of the first gun they ever owned and never fired. Occasionally you can find them in the reloading areas trying to find a die in .257 Roberts for the Winchester M-70 they got for a “steal” at the last show and cannot find any ammo for at Wally World. These guys are a little snobby, but can be OK as long as you don’t get in their way at the beef jerky table.
Next is the newly minteed “Survival” Guy. He watched his first episode of Doomsday Preppers a few months ago, and is now in the process of turning his house into a bunker. Of course he needs at least One AR chambered in .308 for everyone in his family that he brings with him to every show even though they have absolutely zero interest in firearms. He can be spotted wearing his North Face Harper Triclimate Jacket to conceal his Les Baer 1911 MONOLITH COMMANCHE HEAVYWEIGHT NS that he will try to find an extra box or two of some cheap ammo for while he’s here so he can practice some and “get used to the kick.” Ironically, he can usually be seen at the Mountain House Table maxing out his credit cards spending thousands to buy a six month supply of freeze dried food at inflated prices for each of his family while bitching about government deficit spending being the cause of the mess we are in.
The “Urban Youths” are a relatively new group to make the scene. They usually travel in packs of three to four. They tend to congregate in three of their main areas: a table with nickel plated Hi-points, chrome plated Desert Eagles, or any table having a variation of a Tec-9. Feeling out of their element a little bit, I think they are surprised at the tolerance they receive as most do not consider them a threat there as the firearms they are handling in a hilarious manner are not loaded.
The next guy we are picking on is the Armchair Weapons Consultant. This person is fortunate enough to have a “buddy that owns one” for every weapon ever manufactured. Did you find a Jungle Carbine by Enfield in .308 for a couple of hundred bucks, so you think it might be good to throw it in your rifle rack or have some fun at the range with this bolt action workhorse? A buddy of his had one and “it had a wandering zero”, even though he is not sure exactly what it means, it is junk. Looking at a Ruger LC-9 as an alternative to the .380 you are using as a pocket pistol? Pick one up off the table, preferably using the “urban youth” firing stance, looking down the slide as you flag everyone in the venue, this is the call for the AWC to make an appearance. A buddy of his has one, they have feed problems.”Every time he racks the slide, a round jams in it.” He neglects to mention that his buddy pulls the slide back, holds it in the rear position and releases it instead of doing it proper way and decidedly pull the slide back and release promptly. It is a lightweight pistol used when a compact or full sized pistol will not fit into your wardrobe for one reason or another. This “expert” guy wants to compare it to his “Buddy’s Kimber 1911, since he, himself doesn’t seem to own any guns at all except for a Mosin Nagant. The only advantage of this nitwit hanging around is, if you are quiet and let him ramble on, sometimes the seller will come down in price whether the AWC’s rants are valid or not just to hear him shut up. He can be a useful idiot.
There are classifications of people that hang out at gun-shows that we haven’t even discussed. The skinhead wannabes in the urban BDU bottoms and black tank top checking out the STG-44 in .22 cal and eying the brass knuckles next to the cheap knives, the boyfriend or husband trying to force a Charter Arms 38 Special Pink Lady on the woman in their life thus making sure after 5 shots through this lightweight low quality revolver this girl never wants to go shooting again, the panic buyer who thinks Obama is coming for his guns tomorrow, even though he owns none and is busy asking everyone where the Assault rifle section is so he can buy one before Hillary says he can’t have one, the Operator that fired every weapon on the table while he was a merc overseas for KB&R, and too many ex-special forces guys to count, making for an eclectic enjoyable day out for everyone who enjoys people watching.
Truth be told, many people are usually a mix of all of the above. It would be prudent to squirrel some stuff away with some extra cash if you have it, but don’t try to buy an arsenal overnight. I would like to hear about some of the types I forgot that you have seen when you go to the shows. Be safe and keep your powder dry.