Over the years, I’ve been to a num­ber of gun shows so I have a rather edu­cat­ed opin­ion on what to expect for sale and who will be in atten­dance.  Odd­ly enough, regard­less of loca­tion through­out the nation, shows like this are almost always pre­dictable and indica­tive of the times.  As an exam­ple, in the eco­nom­ic boom times of the 90s and ear­ly 2000’s (and dur­ing the assault weapons ban), the shows I attend­ed had col­lec­tor guns being bought and sold, firearm and mil­i­tary relat­ed art­work was read­i­ly avail­able, and cheap swords (import­ed from chi­na, made of sub­stan­dard steel…. but still look cool) were being sold for a pre­mi­um price.  Con­verse­ly, after a mass shoot­ing like the hor­rif­ic event at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary, ammu­ni­tion and car­bines (AR plat­forms, AKs, etc) were in demand and had dou­bled in price from the pre­vi­ous month while the col­lectibles and wall hang­ers were large­ly ignored.  Recent­ly I attend­ed a rather large show in Penn­syl­va­nia and had to take note of what I saw…some of my obser­va­tions may sur­prise you.

There was a group of tables ded­i­cat­ed to col­lec­tor firearms from wars past and mil­i­tary para­pher­na­lia but those tables (most­ly seg­re­gat­ed in one small room) were get­ting lit­tle traf­fic.  The main show­room (actu­al­ly sev­er­al rooms) was packed with ven­dors and patrons… and most were sell­ing things on prep­pers wish lists.

I saw thou­sands of guns and many were being sold… every­thing from hand­guns to shot­guns to car­bines to bolt rifles were being legal­ly trans­ferred from the FFLs in atten­dance.  Most of these guns had prac­ti­cal pur­pos­es but few were on col­lec­tors wish lists.

Ammu­ni­tion was get­ting scarce on the last day…5.56, .308, 9mm, 40 cal, etc were being sold by the case load.  Most were priced rea­son­ably but the few bricks of .22 cal I saw brought a pre­mi­um price… but at least it was avail­able.

Sev­er­al mil­i­tary sur­plus ven­dors were in atten­dance and most were doing a great deal of busi­ness.  Ammo cans (espe­cial­ly 50 cal) were fly­ing off the shelves.  Sleep sys­tems, molle pouch­es, pon­chos, fatigues, packs, etc. were all being car­ried out of the show.  There were sev­er­al old mil­i­tary vehi­cles and sev­er­al were for sale (includ­ing an old Willys Jeep and a Deuce and a half).

Sev­er­al body armor com­pa­nies were in atten­dance and seemed to be stay­ing busy with cus­tomers.  They sold every­thing from soft “police style” vests to plate car­ri­er and plate inserts (both ceram­ic and steel).

It seemed that pre­pared­ness ven­dors were in every isle sell­ing pock­et sur­vival kits, water fil­ters, dehy­drat­ed food, etc.

I would spec­u­late the peo­ple in atten­dance fell into sev­er­al cat­e­gories.  The true gun enthu­si­asts rep­re­sent­ed about 25%… they gen­er­al­ly left the show with lit­tle to no pur­chas­es, or maybe a garand with match­ing num­bers.  About 25% were peo­ple who went for enter­tain­ment pur­pos­es (or had noth­ing bet­ter to do on a Sunday)…they were often in fam­i­ly units and they most­ly bought cheap Chi­nese crap (such as elab­o­rate but use­less swords), han­dled lots of guns and may have even bought one.   The largest group of peo­ple I saw, about 50%, fell into the prep­per cat­e­go­ry. Grant­ed we don’t wear signs that des­ig­nate us as prep­pers, but when some­one is buy­ing ammu­ni­tion in bulk, “tac­ti­cal” guns, dehy­drat­ed food, and/or MREs, its not dif­fi­cult to pick them out.  The ven­dors at the gun show seem to be cater­ing to this group more and more in recent years.  If you’re read­ing this, chances are youre part of that group… and have prob­a­bly thought you’re part of a fringe group that needs to oper­ate in secret.  Based on my obser­va­tions, prep­ping has become a lot more main­stream, social­ly accept­able, and more wide­spread than many of us think.

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