Are you wondering what to expect at a gun show?
Well, you’re not alone!
In this article, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about attending a gun show, even if you’re a first timer.
A gun show can be an intriguing, and fun event for enthusiasts, collectors, and anyone interested in firearms and related accessories.
Whether you’re a seasoned attendee or a first timer, here’s some tips and useful reminders before you attend a gun show this year.
Table of Contents
What is a Gun Show?
A gun show is a public, in-person event, where firearms, ammunition, and related accessories are displayed, bought, and sold.
These shows vary in size, with some featuring a few dozen vendors and others boasting hundreds or even thousands.
Here’s our list of the 7 biggest gun shows in the United States.
What Should I Bring to a Gun Show?
When attending a gun show, it’s a good idea to come prepared to ensure a comfortable and productive experience.
Here’s a list of gun show tips as well as items you might want to bring with you:
- Identification: Bring a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state ID, especially if you plan to purchase firearms or ammunition.
- Cash $$$: While some vendors may accept credit cards, many prefer or only accept cash. Having cash on hand can make transactions smoother.
- A bag or backpack: You may want a bag to carry your purchases, any literature, or brochures you collect, and any personal items like snacks, water, or a first-aid kit. Make sure to check the event’s official website to ensure they allow bags or backpacks.
- Comfortable footwear and clothing: Wear comfortable shoes, as gun shows can involve a lot of walking. Dress appropriately for the weather, as some shows may be indoors while others may be outdoors. Some gun shows have both indoor and outdoor venues.
- Smartphone: Bring your smartphone for jotting down notes, vendor information, or contact details. You’ll likely meet a bunch of different vendors (including other attendees) and you will want to exchange contact information.
- Knowledge of local laws: Familiarize yourself with the firearms laws and regulations specific to your area, especially if you plan to make a purchase. This will help you make informed decisions and ensure compliance with the law.
- Gun show concealed carry: Gun show organizers often have their own rules and regulations regarding firearms at their events. Some may permit concealed carry by individuals with valid permits, while others may restrict or prohibit it. It’s crucial to check the event’s website or contact the organizers to understand their specific policies. Do not bring your firearm into a gun show without checking the official policy of the event organizer.
What to Expect at a Gun Show
When attending a gun show, you can expect an event primarily focused on firearms and related accessories.
Here are some common things you might encounter to include helpful gun show rules and reminders:
- Firearms: Gun shows are known for their wide selection of firearms, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, and sometimes even antique or collectible guns. You can expect to see both new and used firearms for sale by licensed dealers and private sellers.
- Ammunition: Ammunition is often available for purchase at gun shows, with various calibers and types to choose from. You can find both common and specialty ammunition.
- Accessories: Gun accessories such as holsters, magazines, scopes, sights, grips, and cleaning supplies are typically available at gun shows. These items can help enhance the functionality and customization of firearms.
- Knives and blades: Some gun shows also feature vendors selling knives, swords, and other bladed weapons. These are often popular among collectors and outdoor enthusiasts.
- Outdoor and hunting gear: You may come across booths or vendors selling outdoor gear, hunting equipment, and related items such as camouflage clothing, camping gear, and hunting accessories.
- Collectibles and memorabilia: Gun shows often have tables with collectible firearms, historical items, and military memorabilia for sale. These can include antique firearms, military surplus gear, and historical documents.
- Antique and vintage guns: Some gun shows have dedicated sections or vendors specializing in antique and vintage firearms. These can be valuable collectibles for enthusiasts.
- Safety information: Many gun shows prioritize safety and responsible gun ownership. You might find literature, seminars, or demonstrations on firearm safety, storage, and maintenance.
- Licensed dealers: Licensed firearms dealers typically participate in gun shows. They must adhere to federal and state regulations, including conducting background checks for firearm sales, as required by law.
- Private sellers: In some cases, private individuals may attend gun shows to sell firearms from their personal collections. Laws regarding private sales vary by state, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area.
- Background checks: Depending on local laws and regulations, background checks may be conducted for all firearm purchases, even private sales, at the gun show.
- Admission fees: Most gun shows charge an entrance fee. Be prepared for any potential admission fees. Bring cash and a credit card with you to the event. Sometimes you can buy a ticket online before the event.
- Food and drink: Many gun shows offer food and drinks for attendees. The availability and variety of food and beverages can vary from one gun show to another. It’s common to find vendors or concession stands selling items like hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, snacks, soft drinks, and coffee.
- Crowds and atmosphere: Gun shows can be crowded and lively events, with attendees ranging from collectors and enthusiasts to individuals looking for their first firearm purchase. The atmosphere can vary from show to show.
- Vendor diversity: The diversity of vendors and the specific items available can vary widely from one gun show to another, so it’s a good idea to check the event’s website or contact the organizers in advance to get an idea of what to expect.
Remember that laws and regulations regarding firearms and related items can vary greatly from state to state and even from one gun show to another.
It’s essential to be knowledgeable about your local laws, and if you plan to make a purchase, ensure you meet all legal requirements, including background checks and permits, if necessary.
How to Find Gun Shows Online
If you want to attend a gun show in-person, start by searching online.
Gun and knife shows are usually advertised weeks, if not months, ahead of the scheduled event.
When you find one you like, it’s a good idea to check the official website of the promoter or call the organizers for more info.
Gun shows are a great way to learn about different guns and buy them and accessories at good prices.
Whether you’re a gun expert or just curious, attending one can be a valuable experience.
Plus, they’re a ton of fun!
A gun show offers a unique and fascinating experience.
With a mix of historical appreciation, educational opportunities, and a wide variety of products, it’s an event that can cater to a diverse group of interests.
Whether you’re there to buy, sell, learn, or simply observe, there’s something for everyone at a gun show.
Remember, every gun show is different, so experiences can vary.
The key is to go with an open mind, a sense of curiosity, and a respect for firearms and the people who appreciate them.
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.