Gun Show Report April 2018

BY Herschel Smith
11 months, 1 week ago

So I went to a local gun show today, mostly looking for magazines and the availability and price of certain ammunition, but I was also surveying prices for all manner of guns.  I offer up a number of observations in no particular order.

For pistols, sellers still focus their stock in the cheap, plastic, striker-fired guns with crunchy, crappy triggers.  Good, high quality 1911s are just not carried by the folks looking to push large quantities of inventory (and rely on quantity rather than quality and larger markups for their profits).  And yes, I consider most if not all polymer handguns cheap plastic guns (with the exception of FN because their .45 tactical is a hammer gun and the FN 5.7 is an internal hammer gun).

The prices of rack (budget) ARs have not changed in months, or even years.  The prices aren’t going to get lower.  The prices of higher end ARs have not changed in months, or even years.  I suspect the prices aren’t going to get lower.  If anything, I expect the prices of the higher end ARs (Daniel Defense, Rock River Arms, FN, etc.) to creep slightly higher over the next few months, and then take off within a year or a little longer.

Good chassis bolt action guns are expensive, many as expensive as ARs.

There was plenty of ammunition for sale if you were looking for 55 gr. 5.56 mm / .223, .308, .45, 9 mm or the standard soft point hunting rounds.  Everything else is an esoteric round to them and few dealers had much else.  For more out-of-the-ordinary rounds like 77-gr. 5.56 mm, 5.7X28, .45 SMC (which I was looking for, finding none at all), and even some run-of-the-mill PD pistol rounds for 9 mm and .45 that you can get at Gander Outdoors, Cabela’s, or Bass Pro Shop, you may have to rely on mail order if you don’t want to pay a visit to aforementioned large stores.  Shipping ammunition is expensive because of the weight.  When you drive near the aforementioned large stores, always consider buying ammunition because you don’t know when you’ll be back if you don’t live near one.

Overall, there were about a third less tables than usual, and the crowd was thinner than usual.  It all felt rather bleak and depressing.  My assessment: the gun owning public is asleep at the wheel.  Give this until after the mid-term elections and it will all turn around, and it will peak at a frenzy as we near the presidential election.  The GOP shouldn’t expect to carry Florida and North Carolina again.

Get what you need while you can.


  1. On April 16, 2018 at 6:26 am, ragman said:

    Very astute observations. I buy very little in Walmart but they do have lots of ammo at reasonable prices. The GOP has thrown us under the bus for the last time. They could very well lose the House and Senate in November. Indeed, Florida and North Carolina will go gimmiecrat in ‘20. President Kamala Harris?

  2. On April 16, 2018 at 6:58 am, MamaLiberty said:

    You need to come to a gun show here in NE Wyoming. :) All kinds of guns offered at the last show I went to in March – put on by my gun club. Local people mostly, with a few FFL dealers but mostly private sales. Lots of ammo (I didn’t look at much of it, since I have plenty already). Lots of reloading components too. There are only 5,000 people living in the entire county here, but we filled 85 tables and at the peak time on Saturday it was pretty much standing room only. Lots of women and children as well. Great chili dogs and nacho stuff available in the refreshment booth too.

    As for “plastic guns,” I’m sorry you don’t like them. Each to his/her own, of course. I love mine.

    Next local show is in August. We’d love to have you come. Bring lots of money. :)

  3. On April 16, 2018 at 10:29 am, Chris Mallory said:

    At retail stores, the price of entry level AR’s, like the Ruger and Smith & Wesson have jumped up from just under $500 in the early fall to $600+ today. You will occasionally see Del Tons, Diamondbacks, and ATI rifles under $500.

    I do agree with the gun show opinions. The local shows tend to be 50% flea market crap, 45% plastic striker crap, and about 5% quality pieces. All of it overpriced.

  4. On April 16, 2018 at 11:08 am, Coldsteel1983 said:

    Regarding gun shows in general, I feel they’re usually overpriced and of lower quality, catering to newer buyers who haven’t developed local store relationships or found preferred internet suppliers (mostly ammo) for what they’re in the market for.

    Get it by the case and of good manufacture!

    “President Kamala Harris?”

    Better break our Bracken’s EFAD trilogy and re-read. It’ll probably be a template for that Adminostration.

  5. On April 16, 2018 at 11:27 am, ambiguousfrog said:

    First/Last time I went to gun show it was like a “flea market” to some degree. I did get a nice lower years back when they were hard to come by. Ammo, try Academy Sports because they have free shipping, unfortunately you still get hammered with tax (I guess if you reside in GA.).

    They do get some 77gr Hornady Black, but doesn’t last long. I recently found their own brass .223 brand (Monarch) 55gr. SP is actually PPU from Serbia. I have to say I’ve never had issues with PPU. Somewhat inexpensive quality ammo.

    I’d rather go there instead of Wally World because they have to hunt some guy down with keys to the cabinet. Too much of an inconvenience to stand around waiting for that.

  6. On April 16, 2018 at 11:41 am, jean said:

    I wish i could go to a gun show in Pakistan, they have all of our good stuff, ammo, nods, molle gear.

  7. On April 16, 2018 at 12:51 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    Ha! No doubt having stolen it as it crossed through the Torkham Pass or Chaman City in jingle trucks.

  8. On April 16, 2018 at 3:43 pm, Gryphon said:

    Pretty much my Observation in Central/upper VA, shows are lackluster, both in Stuff for Sale and Attendance… not seeing any signs of Pressure to Buy, (but around Here that probably Means everyone has 10 + Guns anyway) and the Ammo is either not competitively Priced with Bigger Stores, or it is Odd Stuff verging on the Collectible.- I still can’t find good 7.65 Argentine, except for that PPU stuff, that isn’t that good.

    Should be Interesting to see what the Elections show, (if we aren’t in Nukewar with Russia first) as Trump has mostly screwed his Base, promises to get out of Syria, “Build the Wall”, repeal Monkeycare, “Drain the Swamp” have been shown to be bullcrap.

    Starting to Think that it would have been better for Klinton to have won, We’d
    be Reacting to that as opposed to Hoping Trump would Change things.

  9. On April 16, 2018 at 8:23 pm, Russian troll-bot said:

    I don’t know if there is anything to be made of this or not. North Carolina gun shows have been lame for all of the nine years I’ve been going to them.

  10. On April 17, 2018 at 8:27 am, Ned said:

    Herschel, FWIW, Doubletap Ammunition has 450 SMC ammo

  11. On April 17, 2018 at 10:18 am, Ken said:

    Last months gun show here in Kansas City was packed, as usual. Good selections with lots of used guns floating around as well. I haven’t noticed any slow down in attendance yet. Ammo sellers aren’t even offering good deals but folks are still buying, mainly 5.56 and 7.62 type stuff. Maybe the slowdown is just in the NE, and not in the south and Midwest?

  12. On April 17, 2018 at 10:38 am, S18-1000 said:


    My Dad and I went to a show in Grand Rapids, MI this past weekend. I know every time a shooting happens, guns like AR-15’s and the like jump in price; that is a given. But what I cannot understand is why guns like a Mosin Nagant M91, Mauser K98, or SMLE, have tags for $400, $500; even $600 for a run of the mill Mosin I saw! I’m only 25, but remember Fetlas Trading Post in Valparaiso, IN where they had CRATES of loose Mosin’s for about $70-90 a piece; just a wooden box right there on the floor filled with them! And next to that would be another full-to-the-lid crate of SKS rifles at about $100-150 a pop. I know there are sanctions on some rifles from countries like Russia, but this is ridiculous. Was there a memo that got passed around that I didn’t get, or are vendors at gun shows smoking crack?

  13. On April 17, 2018 at 10:43 am, Herschel Smith said:


    Good question. I would buy a Mosin for $80. There is no way I would pony up $400. For that kind of money, I could get a flat dark earth Ruger bolt action rifle in .450 Bushmaster, which I would FAR RATHER HAVE.

    I don’t know what happened. I didn’t see the memo either.

  14. On April 17, 2018 at 11:51 am, Andrew said:

    Those Mosin Nagants have gone from “tent stakes” and “$40 gun shop purchases” to “collectible” now.
    Seems the Soviet Union and Russia isn’t making anymore in the 1940’s to sell for scrap metal pricing, and most of the ammunition got burnt up, or at $30 a “Spam Can” got stacked into closets.

    That and the dollar doesn’t go as far as it did back in 2000 when it was buying a whole rifle and 2 packages of ammo …

    I never bought one, but that’s the point of “military surplus”.
    It’s been made, and there’s only so much of it.

    I can pull out old “Shotgun News” catalogs and note the ads with “Inter Ordnance” selling ww2 British Bren part sets for $400…for 3 of them, with barrels included.

    The vendors at the gun shows are high, but $300 for a Mosin is about average now.

  15. On April 17, 2018 at 1:31 pm, Gryphon said:

    S18-1000 – I have a Mosin I bought about 20 Years ago for $150 – High Price because it’s a Westinghouse USA Contract Rifle that wasn’t Paid For after the Bolsheviks took over Russia. Was Shot some when I bought it, but the Fit and Finish is Excellent compared to the Sovietski rummage. Turned Down an Offer of $750 Last Year, but still see Beaters for 4-500.

    Good, Heavy Rifle, Out-Shoots Me with Iron Sights, PPU is making decent Brass-Cased Food for it, and I see it as a Backup and Game-Getter.

  16. On April 17, 2018 at 2:28 pm, Sean said:

    I hear you, Capn’ and understand. Gunnies ARE asleep, now is the time to get with the preps on guns, ammo, and spare parts. A severe shortage is only a CNN report away. For all you cats who thought the 2008 election results gouging was outrageous, you ain’t seen nothing yet. At a gun show here in Texas this month, I saw three Rock River AR-15’s for a flat $400 each, and they were complete with iron sights, picatinny rails, etc. I picked up all three for less than what one cost, at the Ft. Worth gun show the day after Obongo was elected. I’m not dooming, I’m telling people that when things look tame and normal, that it’s the time to get prepared. I also picked up 9mm, the S&B good stuff, for $10 a box of 50. Y’all can complain about Wally World all you want, but their ammo displays are full to bursting. A wise general sees opportunity, a bad one complains about it.

  17. On April 18, 2018 at 6:23 am, Ace Frehley said:

    Shrinking crowds at the local gun shows are nothing new. Gunbroker, Armslist and hundreds of other online (most if not all ‘surplus’ importers have web sites too) stores are most of the reason why. Even with shipping figured in, buying ammo on line is a better deal.

  18. On April 18, 2018 at 5:59 pm, kenneth norberg said:

    There are quite a few Mosins in Canada but they can’t import them to the US. Obama signed a executive order requiring all surplus to sit out side the country of origin for five years before it can be imported to the US. This is why you are seeing the prices at shows.
    This was my 4th year at shot show in Las Vegas, The number of exhibitors and buyers were the smallest I have seen. This was confirmed with other by other folks that had been at a lot more shows than my company.

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You are currently reading "Gun Show Report April 2018", entry #19017 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Ammunition,Firearms,Guns and was published April 15th, 2018 by Herschel Smith.

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