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By David Casaceli

With the great scare of 2013 and the resulting hoarding by gun owners and preppers of all stripes, that great American tradition — the gun show — has become a bit of a bore. The expo centers and halls that were once the place to find anything you could dream of, from a carry handle for a Pancor Jackhammer to any cartridge ever loaded, are now packed with sweaty, shuffling zombie hunters fighting over the latest fake Leupolds and ACOGs the Chinese are cranking out. And there’s nary a box of primers in sight. And if there were, they’d fetch a buck per cap. The gentlemen on the other side of those tables used to teach me a thing or two . . .

These days, though, I get the feeling I’m doing all the teaching. But that’s okay, the 19-year-old who learned how to shoot on his Xbox already knows everything…except what a primer is, what caliper bullets that .30-06 takes, if the 30 stands for 30 round clips, and how to mount that AGOG (“do I need a quad rail?”). When about the best things you’ll find at the local show is a cup of plastic nacho cheese or some Scentsy candles, what’s a gun guy to do?

I for one have found the swap meet is very much alive and well right here on the the interwebs, deep within the bowels of the forums that feed 2A animals like me. Places like ARFCOM, Sniper’s Hide 24hourcampfire among others. Of course, you’re going to need to establish yourself as a non-IGOTD. But once you do, almost anything can be found on the black market of the forums. If you talk the talk and know a buffer retainer hole from a takedown pin hole, you’ll find the prices are still pretty good. And if you bring something to trade, you’ll be even more handsomely rewarded for what you seek; as long as it isn’t a date. Unless you’re of the female variety, in which case you’ll have plenty of opportunities.

From primers to scary black guns, .50’s to brass, the supply never dries up if you find a trusting circle. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be at the gun show any more. It seems that all the build-a-bracelet and ‘your name on a piece of rice’ stands are here to stay. On the plus side, the new gun show is open 24/7 and you can visit it from wherever you are, if you just know where to look to stay ahead of the game. But be advised: People of the Gun can be wary of newbies, and this seller reserves the right to refuse sale to anyone.

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    • Sometimes I think it would be easier to get involved with a secret society like skull & bones or something. Hate the elitist attitude I always get from my local gun shops because I’m new in town and they don’t know me. Either that or they are just a bunch of know it all a-holes who love their own self perceived awesomeness. Either way, tired of it. It’s stupid and does nothing but alienate people who might have had an interest in our sport, rights and our cause.

      • Being new in town sucks, make a few purchases, browse the stores, make some conversation! You’ve got to break the ice somehow and that burden falls upon you, the new guy. Local specialty shops don’t typically get by from walk in newbies in my opinion Sure any sell helps, but the meat and potatoes for most smaller shops are from a loyal friends and family type customer base. The elitist attitude you mention usually comes from being bombarded with mind numbing questions (to them, not to the new guy that’s never seen said item in person) day in and day out and typically results in no sale. Sometimes to them that 30 minutes could have been spent fixing the firing pin on another customer’s hunting rifle back on the bench.

        Guns are a right, but the local dealings of guns and parts is absolutely no different than car parts in my opinion. You can go to Cabella’s and pick up whatever you want, it’s just like going to Schuck’s for an alternator. They have more of a customer is always right mentality. The LGS are exactly like the local speed shop, get to know the guys. They may think Fords rule and Chevy’s drool, and you can think they are idiots for it, but they are invested and all in. Hell tell them why your AR is better than their AK, you could probably have a beer or 6 (maybe not at the store) and make a new group of friends while you’re at it.

        If you don’t want to build a relationship with the people at your LGS, or Hot Rod Shop, or really any hobby based specialty store. Walmart, CTD, and Cabella’s have what you need. It may not be what’s best to bring in the new people, but it’s their business. Luckily today they are still open and being attacked by legislators and the media. We may lose our rights, but they have more skin in the game with their lively hood on the line as well.

      • I hear that. Thankfully a new shop opened up in my town, because for the past 8 or so years, we had one shop, and they were extremely ignorant, even to veterans and current military. The new guys are great though, their more for the sport of it then the money.

    • A while back I was at my neighborhood community garden and got to talking with a college kid in his early 20s who was eager to become a first-time gunowner. Finding out that I was a lifelong (50-something) shooter and gun guy, he asked for advice. Specifically, if he should start out with an AR or an AK. I asked him if he played a lot of video games (yup) and advised him to find a nice used (pre-Republic) box-mag Marlin .22 magnum bolt gun, spend as much money on a scope as he did on the gun (total investment maybe $300) and mailorder a brick of .22 WRF as well as an assortment of .22 Magnums. “Go to the range once a week, and by the time you can stay on a piece of typing paper offhand at 100 yards you will know enough about guns to invest in something mor powerful.” I would say that he looked at me as though I were speaking Klingon, except he probably understood Klingon better than my advice.

      • I would have looked at you like a Klingon as well. Talk about $hitting all over his party. The kid wants an AR or an AK and you advise him like he can’t handle the truth and needs training wheels first. This was a grown man, not an 8 yo. This is why I never ask(ed) yahoos for firearms advice.

        • Yeah, well, if he had asked me for advice about motorcycles I would have told him to spend some time in a field on a dirt bike before he got out in traffic on a 130hp sport bike, no matter what his fantasies were. No crime in telling a novice to start small, learn well, and move up.

        • Jim, sometimes practical just aint sexy. If you get what I mean. And you arent going to attract new, young gun owners by “$shitting all over his party” so to speak.

        • I don’t have any problem with an AR as a first rifle. Thousands of GIs got their first experience shooting with one. 5.56 has mild recoil, and the sights are good. The AK might turn someone off shooting. The cheap ones are inaccurate, and AK sights universally suck (IMHO). 7.62×39 + Steel buttplate = not the best shooting experience.

          I think that’s the advice I would have given the kid.

        • The Grasshopper should listen to Jim.
          How much experience would he get shooting $.50 rounds for 7.62 or .5.56. His young budget would not give him a chance to learn to love it.
          WMR is more costly than LR but still.
          Shoot all day with a bolt and develop the discipline.
          When I was seven, my brothers would let me shoot the SS Bolt 22 but ammo was a luxury in a family of 12, so I learned patience with my curve back bow and arrows. Shoot all day with 5 “bullets”.
          Not sure if I can walk silently on rice paper though.
          Hell, we even used to unstring our full auto firecrackers and fire them single shot. All the same thing.

      • Courtesy of Bing, I had to make some adjustments and replaced ‘gun’ with ‘disruptor’ among some other minor word changes. Of course be careful they can smell the universal translator from a mile away.

        jaH bach mIchHom wa’logh Hogh, pong poH laH taH ‘ay’ nav patlh Segh DeSDu’ 0.05 qelI’qam yapbe’ nISwI’ Huch lan vI’Iprup HoSghaj vay’ Sov.

        • Yah, AR = 130mph sport bike. Whatever. My 12yo shoots my AR. And shoots trap with my big boy 12G. But a grown a$$ man can’t handle an AR because he played them on video games. OK.

      • Excellent advice. He asked and you gave the honest answer. I doubt anyone else will agree, but your obligation is to give honest advice or none at all.

        • Thanks. That was my point – someone who had never fired a gun in his life – outside of video games -asked for advice from soneone who fired his first round – from a bolt .22 – back during the Johnson administration. Yup, cost was a big part of it – I’d worked with the kid and his girlfriend enough (hard manual labor outdoors in Texas, i. e., gardening) enough to know their finances and a $1500 gun that cost $.50 – 1.00 + a round to shoot would not have created a dedicated shooter. And a bolt gun teaches a novice more about marksmanship than a semi-auto. I explained all this at the time (once we got our Klingon-English translator device working) and he went with a Ruger 77/22, which he was shooting small groups with the last time we talked. And planning on buying an AR after graduation, since I had pointed out that every “affordable” AK on the market shoots minute-of-barn-door. It’s a geezer thing – I just don’t like rifles that won’t shoot 6-minutes-of-angle from a sandbag, and I’ve never seen an AK or SKS that would.

        • Get a 22lr semi AND an AR. Shoot the 22 a lot while fondling the AR. When comfortable, start on the AR, while continuing to shoot the 22 at the range (bringing both guns).

      • was @my dads for memorial day and a friend of his and his wife were there.well they just bought her a fancy new sportster with all the bolt on crap you can buy.never rode in her life!first time out she dumps it…. of course.btw no crash bar included in all the add on crap either.

        tols her is she was my gal she would have started on a 100 er 125 dirtbike and learned how to take of stop shift and all the other dumb stuff you should know b4 you get out into traffic.if looks could kill id be dead fer not looking forward to reading about her being killed or killing someone else,but odds arent in her faver as much as they could have been if she would have started on a smaller dirt jerker than a big heavy street i agree starting small and moving up is the way to go. .22 and a 80 yamaha was what i learned on @about 8 yrs old for both.ego can get us killed really easy or someone else for that matter.

    • I think the folks who get started in firearms based on an interest developed from video games should be welcomed. Any new source of second amendment supporters helps us all. There are a huge group of kids who grew up on (name the popular FPS game of the generation) and also did not have any exposure to real firearms. When they are old enough and interested in purchasing guns they should be supported.

      • I have been shooting since I was five, I always liked it but after playing medal of honor on ps1 I have wanted a m1 garand. I have taught lots of others to shoot too but I usually start them with a .22. I started on bb guns then a .410 then on up. Never bought a m1 though

  1. The last show I went to had a lot to see but everyone’s prices were outrageous. A typical Mosin was not to be found for less than $250.
    Even junk was priced above where I would be comfortable to negotiate.

  2. Here in Oregon, there’s outdoors trader dot com.
    There’s even a smaller group on FB for Yamhill County.
    It’s very gratifying to hook up with like minded folks.

  3. I found the shooters at the competitions will do reasonable trades for decent prices. Places like Accuracyshooter dot com have classifieds and if you chat up a couple guys the deals are good. I have obtained powder, primers, and bullets from nonstandard sellers for the first time in my life this year because all the shelves have been bare.

    Though I still think my bricks of 22LR are “PRECIOUS!” and would not deal on a trade for anything. (note reference to Lord of the Rings)

  4. Cripes, I can’t think of anything more effed up than this theory. Instead of opening up our doors to new members and educating the public, lets close ranks and makes a secret society, thus reinforcing the negative stereotype of the “gun nut.”

    Way to go.

  5. There aa difference between newbies wanting to learn and idiots. It just so happens a lot of newbies are idiots. This is true in all things, the idiots just don’t last and move on to something new,. Whether it be sport bikes or guns, a some people just get in over their heads. I’m A scant 29 years old and tread lightly in new circles, knowing i don’t know everything. That being said, I’ve just given all the newbies directions to where they can go to find the knowledge and gear they can’t find at gun shows anymore.

    • +1. Of course we all want to welcome new people but that can be extremely hard when talking to a young person who already thinks they know it all because they played it on Call of Duty. I heard some young guys trying to school a store owner on which guns are better and more accurate. He then implied his store sucked because he didn’t have his favorite gun that he always uses in Call of Duty. I think most gun enthusiast would rather not have people like that on our side.

  6. Went thru all this before during the Clintonian years. It might take 8 or 10 years but prices will come down and guns and ammo at shows will be plentiful again. I bought a Ruger LC9 and a Ruger RAR 308 for $300 each back in October at a show. Looks like I am about to purchase a piston AR for less than $800 from an LGS. Ammo and components right now, fuggitaboudit. Never seen anything like it in 30 years of this hobby.

  7. I like the AR = super bike analogy. The newby = idiot is often, but not always true.

    I remember years ago seeing late night ads for the Kawaski monster bikes that would go 0-100 in about eight seconds.

    “First time buyers welcome, no credit, no problem.” Lots of bikes got sold. Lots of bikes got wrecked, lots of guys got killed or crippled. I’m sure a small percentage learned to handle such a beast and are still riding today, but it’s a very small number, I’m sure.

    I wonder how many of the bikes are still roadworthy.

    Start slow. Learn basic skills, THEN move on to bigger, better, stronger, faster.

    I like my AR. I like my pistols. I learned firearm safety and basic marksmanship with a CO2 rifle and then single-shot Mossbergs at Scout Camp.

    I’ve had ONE unintentional discharge over the years. I did not fully remove the magazine from my Glock 23 when disassembling it one night, although I had released it. A round got picked up out of the magazine as I moved the slide forward to remove it.

    BANG! I learned that lesson well. I am not proud of that incident, but one UD over fifty odd years of shooting is not a terrible record.


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