What is a gun show and what are they like?
Are gun shows worth the price of admission?
You’ve got questions—we’ve got answers!
Put simply, a gun show is an event where firearms, ammunition, and related accessories are bought, sold, and traded.
These shows often take place in convention centers, fairgrounds, or other large venues and are typically organized by private individuals or organizations.
Gun shows can vary in size, from small local events to large national or regional exhibitions.
At a gun show, attendees can browse and purchase a wide range of firearms, including rifles, shotguns, handguns, and antique weapons.
Ammunition, gun parts, accessories (such as scopes, holsters, and cleaning kits), and other shooting-related items may also be available for sale.
In addition to buying and selling firearms, gun shows may feature educational seminars, firearm safety demonstrations, and other related activities.
It’s important to note that the regulations surrounding gun shows can vary by location and jurisdiction.
In some places, private individuals may be able to sell firearms at these events without conducting background checks on buyers, which has been a subject of debate and concern regarding potential loopholes in gun control laws.
In contrast, some areas have implemented stricter regulations at gun shows to require background checks for all firearm sales, like those required at licensed gun stores.
The specific laws and regulations governing gun shows depend on the country, state, or locality in which the event takes place.
Therefore, it’s essential for attendees and vendors to be aware of and comply with local firearms laws and regulations when participating in or visiting a gun show.
Table of Contents
What is a Gun Show Like?
A gun show can vary in size and scope, but usually, it is an event where firearms and related items are bought, sold, and showcased.
Here’s what you might typically expect at a gun show:
Vendors and Exhibitors: Gun shows feature a variety of vendors and exhibitors, including licensed firearms dealers, private sellers, manufacturers, and distributors. These individuals or companies set up booths or tables to display their products.
Firearms for Sale: Attendees can find a wide array of firearms available for purchase, including rifles, shotguns, handguns, and antique firearms. Prices and availability may vary, and some rare or collectible firearms may be on display.
Ammunition and Accessories: In addition to firearms, gun shows often include booths selling ammunition, gun parts, accessories (such as scopes, holsters, magazines, and grips), reloading equipment, and other shooting-related gear.
Demonstrations and Seminars: Some gun shows offer educational seminars, firearm safety demonstrations, and workshops on topics like firearm maintenance, shooting techniques, and self-defense.
Collectibles and Memorabilia: Lots of gun shows feature collectible firearms, historical artifacts, and memorabilia related to firearms and military history. These items can be of interest to collectors and history enthusiasts.
Private Sellers: In some regions, private individuals may be allowed to sell firearms at gun shows, often referred to as “private sales.” These transactions may or may not require background checks, depending on local laws.
Trading and Bargaining: Attendees can typically haggle, trade, or negotiate prices with sellers, making gun shows a place where some buyers seek to find deals or unique items.
Security Measures: Most gun shows have security measures in place to ensure the safety of attendees, such as checking bags at the entrance to prevent unauthorized firearms from entering the event.
Local Laws and Regulations: The specific regulations surrounding gun shows can vary greatly depending on the location and the legal framework of the area. Some jurisdictions may require background checks for all firearms sales at gun shows, while others may have fewer restrictions.
Community and Networking: Gun shows can also serve as a gathering place for firearm enthusiasts and members of the shooting community to network, share information, and discuss common interests.
It’s important to note that the atmosphere and experience at a gun show can vary from one event to another, depending on the organizers, the venue, and the local culture.
Attendees should be aware of the rules and regulations governing gun shows in their area and act responsibly and safely while attending such events.
Click here to view our free list of 1,900+ gun shows by city and state.
How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Gun Show?
The cost to attend a gun show can vary depending on several factors, including the location, the size of the event, and the policies of the organizers.
In 2024, most gun shows have a basic ticket price ranging from $10 to $30.
Here are some common considerations regarding the cost of attending a gun show:
Admission Fee: Most gun shows charge an admission fee for entry. This fee can range from $10 to $30 or more, depending on the event’s size and prestige. Some gun shows offer reduced or free admission for military personnel, law enforcement officers, and children.
Parking Fees: If the gun show is held at a venue with paid parking, attendees may also need to pay for parking. This is very common if the gun show is held at a large venue.
Additional Costs: While admission fees cover entry into the show, attendees should also budget for any firearms, ammunition, accessories, or other items they plan to purchase at the event. Prices for these products can vary widely depending on the specific items and vendors.
Background Check Fees: In regions where background checks are required for all firearm sales, attendees may need to pay for these checks if they decide to purchase a firearm at the gun show. The cost of background checks can also vary.
Vendor Tables: If you plan to be a vendor or exhibitor at the gun show, there will be additional costs associated with renting booth space or tables. The cost of vendor tables can vary significantly depending on the size and location of the event.
It’s essential to check the specific details and fees for the particular gun show you plan to attend, as these costs can vary significantly from one event to another.
Event organizers typically provide information about admission fees, vendor booth prices, and any other associated costs on their websites or promotional materials.
Additionally, consider bringing cash with you to a gun show, as some vendors may prefer or only accept cash payments.
Click here to view gun shows near you and to check the price of admission, along with other fees.
How Do I Buy Gun Show Tickets?
You generally have two options to buy gun show tickets: (1) Buy a ticket online from a gun show promoters website or (2) Purchase tickets at the door on the day of the event.
Here’s how you can generally acquire tickets for a gun show:
Online Ticket Sales: Many gun shows offer the option to purchase tickets online through their official website or a ticketing platform. This can be convenient if you want to secure your entry in advance and avoid potential lines at the door. Online ticket sales may also provide the opportunity to print your tickets or display them digitally on your mobile device.
Purchase Tickets at the Door: Many gun shows allow attendees to purchase tickets at the entrance on the day of the event. You’ll need to pay the admission fee, which can vary depending on the show’s location and size. It’s advisable to bring cash with you in case the event organizers only accept cash payments. Remember to bring your I.D. with you if you think you might get a discount for being a military veteran, first responder, etc.
About the Author
Brian Reese is a senior advisor and co-owner at Gun Show Trader. He is one of the world’s leading experts in veteran benefits, having helped millions of veterans secure their financial future since 2013. Brian is the founder VA Claims Insider, an education-based Coaching & Consulting company whose mission is to educate and empower veterans to get the VA disability benefits they’ve earned for their honorable service. A former active-duty air force officer, Brian deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is a distinguished graduate of management of the United States Air Force Academy and earned his MBA as a National Honor Scholar from the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University.