So, it’s your first time at a gun show, or maybe you’ve been to a handful and just have questions. Regardless, gun shows are magical places, where dreams come true and first time gun buyers get to see all the firearms industry has to offer. Presumably, all of the stock is priced to sell. After all, competitors are quite literally right next to one another. But, are guns and ammo cheaper at gun shows? When comparing guns and ammo to any major retail store, you’re almost assuredly better off purchasing your guns and ammunition from a gun show. However, the deals available in the online market can vary, with niche sites offering competitive prices when compared to those at your local gun show.

You may be able to find comparable prices online, or if you’re lucky, at a major retailer. But gun shows offer a unique opportunity often overlooked and seldom explored by many firearms purchasers. We’ll cover that more in depth later, but for now, lets do some comparisons on pricing from different vendors, and find out whether gun shows really do offer the best deals.

Gun Show Pricing

If you’ve never been to a gun show, you may question whether the deals are worth the cost of admission. Chances are good that they will be, but we’ll need to do an apples to apples comparison to really show the cost benefits. Below, I’ve priced several popular models of pistols as well as ammunition from my latest visit to my local gun show. We’ll use these as the baseline to figure out whether these gun show deals are good or not. All of the weapons referenced below are chambered for 9mm to keep things simple. I’ll note any special deals, like night sights, extra magazines, etc. as part of the description and in case we can’t find the exact model in our search from other vendors.

Gun Prices At Gun Shows

While one gun show retailer was particularly nasty about me taking photos of their gun deals, most either didn’t notice or didn’t care. I’m not providing any information about the retailers themselves on purpose. All of the identifying information has been blocked on the images to keep things anonymous, but I wanted to show you that these prices were actually available at the most recent gun show I attended. I’ll admit that I had to visit several vendors across the gun show event to find these deals.

  • Make: Smith and Wesson (S&W)
  • Model: M&P Shield M2.0
  • Cost: $349.00
  • Make: Glock
  • Model: 17 (Gen. V)
  • Cost: $539.00
  • includes 3 magazines
  • Make: Walther
  • Model: PPS M2
  • Cost: $379.99

Ammo Prices At Gun Shows

Because I was unable to find exact matches of the type of ammo found at the gun show, at any online reatiler, I’ve broken down the cost into 50 round increments. While not a direct comparison of costs, it will help you understand why purchasing ammo from gun shows tends to be a better deal than buying online.

Tip: One thing to note about gun shows, is that the higher quantity you buy, the better the deal!

  • Ammo Type: Remington 9mm Luger
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 500
  • Cost: $88.99
  • Cost per 50 rounds: $8.89
  • Ammo Type: Winchester 9mm Service Grade
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 500
  • Cost: $89.99
  • Cost per 50 Rounds: $8.99
  • Ammo Type: Georgia Arms 9mm Luger
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 100
  • Cost: $21.00
  • Cost per 50 rounds: $10.50
  • Ammo Type: Remington Range 9mm Luger
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 1000
  • Cost: $175.00 (Cash)/$189.00 (Credit)
  • Cost per 50 rounds: $8.75 (Cash)/$9.45 (Credit)

Firearms Specialty Store Online Pricing

If you aren’t able to purchase from a gun show, because you don’t have the patience or there’s not a gun show near you, then an online specialty store is probably your best bet for buying a gun. I won’t provide the source for this information, solely because I’d rather avoid any nasty confrontations. You’ll have to take me at my word that these prices are legitimate, although with a little searching you can probably find a comparable deal to what I’ve compiled.

Also, the below models are stock photos of similar models, but do not reflect the actual pistol.

 

  • Make: Smith and Wesson (S&W)
  • Model: M&P Shield M2.0
  • Cost: $344.00
  • Gun Show Deal Savings: -$5.00
  • Make: Glock
  • Model: 17 (Gen. V)
  • Cost: $539.00
  • Gun Show Deal Savings: $0.00
  • Make: Walther
  • Model: PPS M2
  • Cost: $260.00
  • Gun Show Deal Savings: – $119.99

As you can see, gun show deals can be exceptional, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better deal available online. Although the prices are comparable, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of admission to the gun show in your purchase price. Therefore, in the instance of these particular firearms, you may be better off buying online. However, that isn’t necessarily the case. Gun shows offer more than just deals on the listed price. There are some tricks to lower your cost, or get additional items which can sweeten the deal at gun shows, but I’ll cover those later on.

Ammo Prices At Firearms Specialty Store

¬†As I mentioned before, there is no direct match that I could find online, so I’ve found the best deals I could on comparable ammo. Another benefit of shopping for your ammo at gun shows is that the selection is larger due to the sheer number of vendors. But, lets take a closer look at ammo deals found online for a better understanding.

  • Ammo Type: Remington 9mm Luger
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 50
  • Cost: $7.99
  • Cost per 50 rounds: $7.99
  • Savings vs. comparable: -$0.90
  • Ammo Type: Winchester 9mm
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 50
  • Cost: $10.10
  • Cost per 50 rounds: $10.10
  • Savings vs. comparable: $1.11
  • Ammo Type: Remington Range 9mm Luger
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 50
  • Cost: $9.84
  • Cost per 50 rounds: $9.84
  • Savings vs. comparable (Cash): $1.09

Major Retail Store Pricing

So, I won’t get into the details of where I got this gun pricing information, because I really don’t feel like getting a nasty letter from them (or their lawyers). However, suffice it to say that the pistol prices used for comparison with gun show prices are from a major retailer. These firearm prices were obtained from their online store.

For the purposes of evaluating gun show deals, I opted to put this in a separate category from the niche sites you can find online, because their stock extends beyond firearms and firearm accessories. As you can see, you’ll get a far better deal at a gun show, or even at a specialty online store, when compared to major retail vendors.

  • Make: Smith and Wesson (S&W)
  • Model: M&P Shield M2.0
  • Cost: $469.99
  • Gun Show Deal Savings: $120.99
  • Make: Glock
  • Model: 17 (Gen. V)
  • Cost: $649.99
  • Gun Show Deal Savings: $110.99
  • Make: Walther
  • Model: PPS M2
  • Cost: $449.99
  • Gun Show Deal Savings: $70.00

When comparing prices for similar models, you can see that shopping at a gun show offers you a far superior deal. Between the three listed models, you can save anywhere from $70 to $120.99. Even when you factor in the gun show ticket cost, which is typically around $20, you’re still getting a good deal and saving a significant amount of money by purchasing at a gun show.

Ammo Prices At Major Retail Store

Lastly, let’s take a look at what kind of deals on ammo a major retailer provides on their site. Similar to gun deals, you’re much better off buying your ammo in bulk at a gun show or even at an online specialty store. For the cost savings portion of this analysis we’ll be comparing deals on ammo to the comparable gun show prices.

  • Ammo Type: Remington 9mm Luger
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 600
  • Cost: $144.99
  • Cost per 50 rounds: $12.08
  • Savings vs. comparable: $3.19
  • Ammo Type: Winchester 9mm
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 500
  • Cost: $119.99
  • Cost per 50 rounds: $11.99
  • Savings vs. comparable: $3.00
  • Ammo Type: Remington Range 9mm Luger
  • Grain Count: 115 gr
  • Quantity: 350
  • Cost: $84.99
  • Cost per 50 rounds: $12.14
  • Savings vs. comparable: $3.15

Aftermarket Used Gun Pricing

Aftermarket pricing for firearms will vary greatly, depending on a number of factors. For a better understanding this, I suggest taking a look at my article on gun value depreciation, here. If you’re diligent in your search you can definitely find a used gun that beats out the pricing deals at gun shows. However, for the sake of this article, I’ve refrained from researching aftermarket prices for these models because the variance will be so great and really no comparison can be made between a new gun and used gun.

Furthermore, if you’re going to buy a used gun, I highly recommend you have some level of familiarity with the firearm in question. Ideally, you or a friend will have gunsmithing experience so they can red flag any problems that appear. Obviously, if you have access to someone with this experience, bring them to the gun show with you for additional support and expertise.

So, What’s The Least Expensive Place To Buy A Gun?

While it may seem like hype, you can get a pretty decent deal at gun shows. Whether it’s the best place to get your pistol is debatable, as we’ve seen from the above price comparisons. However, depending on the caliber of firearm, make, model, accessories, and more, firearm prices will fluctuate accordingly. If your sole concern is your wallet, and you don’t have the time to shop around, a firearm specialty retailer is the way to go.

That being said, gun shows offer a plethora of tangible benefits that you can’t get from an online retailer. Gun show deals are likely comparable to the prices you’ll be able to find at your local gun shop, except all their competitors are literally steps away. In essence you can create a bidding war for your business while you’re at a gun show. Although you could try this with a physical shop, you’re far less likely to get the deal from the owner that you’d get at a gun show.

What Do You Need To Buy A Gun At A Gun Show?

Gun show sales are subject to the same laws that you’ll find elsewhere in the state. Just because the venue changes, the laws don’t. You’ll need to figure out what the requirements are for firearm sales transactions in your state. In my experience, you’ll need, at a minimum, a state issued photo ID for in state purchases. However, when you live out of state, you’ll likely need additional paperwork. Generally, this information is to prove that your address on your license is in fact your current residence. Bring as much paperwork as you can, it’s far better to have too much paperwork than not enough when you find that perfect gun show deal.

Of course, the requirements will vary, and some states are more strict than others when it comes to gun sales across state lines. Things like running your information through NICS, or other government database may be a requirement for any sale within your state. Make sure you’re eligible to buy a firearm before beginning the process. You may need to be a certain age to purchase a pistol or rifle in your state, whether at a gun show or not. I’ll be updating the state laws and reciprocity map to include purchase eligibility information in the future.

Additionally, there may be a limit to the number of firearms you can purchase. Alternatively, there may be a waiting period associated with buying a firearm from a gun show. In my state, a concealed carry permit can ease the process and actually offers other benefits in the gun buying process. I highly recommend having concealed permit when going to a gun show.

Are There Age Or Other Requirements To Attend A Gun Show?

Let’s be honest, attending a gun show alone isn’t nearly as fun as bringing company. If you’re a parent (or a minor), you may be wondering if someone must be a certain age to enter a gun show. I’m here to tell you that, to date, I’ve never heard of an age requirement for attending a gun show. But, I’d recommend you check with the venue before showing up with small children, or before waiting in line for a ticket if you’re underage.

I’ve seen and heard of many folks encountering underage individuals at gun shows. In fact, I looked up my local gun show venue for entrance details. They offer discounted prices for teens, and anyone under the age of 13 actually gets in free!

However, I highly recommend you instruct your child on gun show etiquette before bringing them along to the next gun show. Additionally, if you’re going to bring a firearm to the show, make sure it is UNLOADED. At my local show, they actually ask you if you are carrying. If you answer yes, you must present the unloaded firearm for inspection. Once inspected, the bouncers proceed to zip-tie the action open.

Tips For Getting The Best Deals At Gun Shows

So, you’re not convinced you should check out the gun show deals. Well, perhaps I can give you some tricks to help you get a little more bang for your buck (pun intended). If you’re not the type of person to haggle, and accept the first price a vendor throws at you, then you might as well order online. However, if you don’t mind standing up for yourself, these tips will make your trip to the gun show worthwhile.

Bring Cash

I cannot stress this tip enough. If you’re going to a gun show, and want the best deal possible, bring CASH. Vendors are looking for cash because it likely means they don’t have to pay another company a processing fee. Bring more than you expect to spend, just in case you find a gun, optic, or other accessory you can’t do without. Furthermore, some gun show vendors will only accept cash. Don’t miss out on a good deal because you failed to prepare. Also, you can’t rely on the ATM at the front of the venue, because everyone else who forgot to hit the bank is going straight there as well. Not to mention you’re cutting into your money saving efforts by having to pay the ATM fee.

Haggle, Then Haggle Some More

If you want to get the best price, you have to be willing to walk away from the table. Sure, you may come back and that pistol is sold, but if you aren’t willing to say “No, I think I’ll shop around some more” then the gun show vendor has little incentive to sweeten the deal. The listed price on a gun is rarely ever set in stone. It’s always best to ask if they give a cash discount, which is the reason for tip number 1.

 

 

Look for Free Ammo or Mags

Many vendors, in an effort to best their competitors will advertise free ammunition or other extras when you purchase from them. While it may not seem like a big deal, those 50 or 100 rounds of ammo could mean $20 in discounts when you buy a gun from that vendor. A prudent customer will ask if they can sweeten the deal on a gun by asking if they can throw in an extra mag, get a discount when buying multiple firearms or other products. What’s the worst they can say?

Explore The Whole Gun Show

The absolute worst thing you can do when trying to save money at a gun show, is walk up to the first vendor and fork over your money for their asking price without even trying to get a deal. Without exploring the whole venue, you don’t know what gun show deals are available, and thus you are not well positioned to negotiate. Check everywhere, the back wall, the corner tables, the little side area that no one is going to. Visit every table at the gun show before deciding to purchase. It puts you in the best possible scenario to negotiate prices and get free stuff.

Find The Hotshot

This is my favorite tip of all. Find the guy who boasts the best deal, and challenge him to actually meet, or in some cases, beat the best deal you found at the gun show (thus the picture above). It’s best to spend a chunk of time exploring the entire gun show before you settle down to actually make a purchase, see above. Don’t be afraid to be vocal about your discoveries either. If you find a cheaper price somewhere else, make sure everyone around you heard it. Now the vendors in a tight spot. Good for you, not so good for them. But, they made the claim to have the best prices!

Don’t Believe What You’re Told

Gun show vendors are sometimes like used car salesmen. It’s ok to laugh when you hear these words “We’ve got the best deal in the gun show!” At the last gun show I went to, a vendor said his price was “$10 below all his competitors” for RATS tourniquets. Well that was a flat out lie, because while exploring a less populated area, we actually found one for cheaper than he was offering. The point is, at a gun show, getting the best deal doesn’t always end up being with the loudest vendor. Do your due diligence before handing over your hard earned cash!

Don’t Be Afraid To Fib, A Little

I may catch a little flack for this one, but hey I’ve been lied to plenty of times by vendors looking to close a deal. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that turnabout is fair play. When trying to score a deal from a specific vendor, maybe you can try embellishing a competitors price a little. Don’t make it obvious and say that a competitor is offering $100 off on the same model, because it won’t work. However, a $10 discount is believable and just to close the deal you may get a little extra cash to spend on ammo. You can always backtrack and say any number of things like, “oh that vendors model only came with one mag” or “it was a different generation than what I am looking for” and “I thought it was new, but it was used.”

Choose The Conditions (Best Day and Time)

You’re sort of at the whims of nature when it comes to choosing the right day and time. Rainy and cold days are the best because it deters many potential customers from venturing out. After all, there will always be another gun show. Generally, it’s best to close your gun deals closer to end of day, preferably on a day with light traffic or when the masses have cleared out. You’ll be able to negotiate a price one on one with the vendor with fewer distractions. More on choosing the right day to shop next. Suffice it to say, the less potential customers, and the greater the selection (i.e. competition), the better your chances to lock in a silly deal at your next gun show!

What’s The Best Day To Buy A Gun From A Gun Show?

Everybody wants to get the best deal possible at gun shows, so a common question is: “what’s the best day to buy a gun from a gun show?” While you’re likely to get a good deal regardless of what day you go, haggling and other techniques to lower the price work best on the last day of the show. Alternatively, you can generally work a decent deal on the first day of the gun show as well. Avoid making your purchase during any day or days in between.

So, here’s the thing. You need to place yourself in the vendors shoes to understand what days are best for the consumer to purchase. Imagine you’re trying to unload a bunch of handguns to make room for the newest weapons released during SHOT show. Typically, gun shows start on a Friday, and people tend to work Monday through Friday, so volume is low. An inquisitive customer comes up asking for your “best” price. Do you give him what you want to get for a gun, or what you know is going to get you the sale? Low volume due to inclement weather, work schedules, or any other number of reasons can play to your advantage.

Alternatively, on the last day, maybe the vendor has done well or not. Regardless, when the gun show ends, they’ve got to pack up all that inventory that’s spent the last two days just sitting on display. With the closing of the show just hours away, again volume is low. Another customer comes up asking for your lowest price. While the sale may not make or break them, chances are you can figure out a way to shave off a few dollars, or at least get some free ammunition or magazine out of the deal.

Finally, an over zealous customer shows up in the middle of the rush on a Saturday. There’s tons of customers vying for the attention of the table owner at the gun show. Can you really expect to talk the price of the gun down when there’s 3 other people interested in the same model trying to get the vendor’s attention?

Parting Shots

If you have the time, you can definitely stretch your dollar and get a good deal at gun shows. It’s far from quick and easy, but if you work at it, you’ll be able to save a few dollars. Since their prices are already good, your best option is to try and snag additional gear (ammunition, mags, night sights on the pistol, etc.).

However, if you’re pressed for time, and just want the best deal without working on it, you should still give gun shows a try. But getting a gun at minimal cost with the least amount of work can also be done by going to a firearm specialty store online. You lose the ability to haggle, and the online consumers vastly outweigh those showing up for a gun show. Also, you can forget getting any freebies. Whatever you do, avoid buying from major retail stores where firearms are only a portion of their business. The markups on guns at retail stores make gun show deals look like a steal.

Hopefully this content has been helpful. If you like the site, leave a comment, signup for our email list, or share with your friends. It only takes a second, and helps me out immensely.