Gun Show Dos And Don'ts

Wanenmacher’s gun show in Tulsa, OK is one of the largest gun shows in the world, if not the largest.  I’ve attended this show numerous times.  Whenever I walk the floor of this 11 acre facility I can’t help but think about what I’m observing, things I like, other I may find odd, and some that are downright disturbing.  Here is a quick guide highlighting a few of the gun show highs and lows.


Do: Look The Part

Whether you are looking to buy, sell, browse or otherwise make use of the show, dress and act appropriately.  Wearing your hunting camo is probably not the best move.  Sure, you’re not hitting gun shows trying to pick up women (God help you if you are) but if you want to command any respect at all, you should probably avoid the “fresh out of the woods” look.  Show up in a suit and tie and you’ll be as out of place as a guy wearing jeans at the masquerade ball.

Subset: Don’t Overdo The Tactical Look

We all know that pockets are useful when you’re buying stuff and BDU style tactical pants have become rather popular. They are commonplace at the range or a gun show, so much that nobody even notices them.  However you probably shouldn’t overdo it with the BDU jacket , single point battle rifle sling and other types of military/tactical attire.  Unless you want to be mistaken for a guy who wishes he were in the Military, but just wasn’t tough enough to hack basic training, or a guy who sells tactical clothes, you should probably avoid the full-on tactical look at the gun show.
Do: Bring More Cash Than You Think You Need

If you are concerned about what your other half is going to say about this, you should ask yourself if you’re allowed to be at the gun show in the first place.

The entire reason to attend a gun show is to find a good price on an item you want to buy.  The best thing that can happen at a gun show is to find more than one smoking deal on gear you want to purchase.  This won’t happen often but when it does the worst thing to do is to come up short on funds.  This tip is basically a re-hashing of the boy scout motto about being prepared.
Do: Find A Discounted Or Free Way Into The Show Beforehand


Most shows promote beforehand offering discounts and free passes.  Do a little homework and locate these if you can.  Local sporting goods stores are usually a good place to start, they often have coupons on the counter.  I once came across a stack of free passes on the counter at a hardware store.

(And for the handful of people I’ve encountered who are overly touchy about the gun they are carrying in plain sight)

Do: Relax

I once commented to a passerby that he had a nice M1A that I had no interest in buying.  I just happen to like M14s.  He snapped back with such angst in saying “it’s not for sale” that you’d have thought I asked “how much for that POS rifle?”  A simple “Thank you, I’m keeping this one” would suffice.  It’s important to remember that many of the people at a gun show are in fact trying to sell guns so it’s likely someone will ask you about any firearm you’re carrying in plain sight.

Do: Research Beforehand

This is particularly important if you do not frequent gun shows.  Some people at guns shows, when judged purely by the prices they are asking, would be hard pressed to prove they are not on some sort of hallucinogenic drug.  This is how they can tell you with a straight face that the price they are asking is not only fair, but it’s a great deal.  Here comes the blatant plug, browse the listings on my site  It’s a great way to see real prices in your area.  In fact, it is so easy to browse on your phone, that you can do it right there on the show floor.


Don’t: (I could never think of this on my own, I saw this actually happen) put your 50 cal in your baby stroller to transport it while your wife carries your baby in her arms.

Understandably it’s heavy, but be a big boy, man up and carry the heavy SOB.

Feel free to share your experiences, tips, and negotiation tactics in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Editor’s Note: Jon is the founder of – this is the hottest gun trading site on the web so check it out. Go to – congratulations to ArmsList for launching a successful gun business!

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