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Attending an airgun show

Texas airgun show
The Texas airgun show is always packed with people and dealers.

This report covers:

  • Gun show
  • What about new airguns?
  • The deal
  • I want an FWB 124
  • Funny story
  • But I want…
  • Watch for THAT guy
  • Cash
  • Other stuff
  • If only I had known earlier
  • Summary

Today we’re going to talk about your first airgun show. Okay — you have saved up your money for Bidenberry juice and motel fees with enough left over for you to think about buying something. There is an airgun show coming up, but it’s two states away, which is a drive of about 800 miles. Is it worth it?

Gun show

Perhaps you have been to some local gun shows where you sometimes see an airgun, but they are few and far between. In a show of 300 tables there might be 15 airguns. How is an airgun show different and is it worth your investment of time, money and precious days off to make the trip? Well, let’s see.

At the Texas airgun show that’s coming up on Saturday, September 24, I will have three tables. On those three tables I will have more airguns than that entire 300-table gun show just mentioned. And my stuff will be good — not rusty Red Ryders.

I will be selling a Sharp Ace Target Standard — of which there are less than 50 in this entire country! Talk about a multi-pump pneumatic that’s rare! A Sheridan Supergrade is dirt-common by comparison. And the Supergrade will be priced at or over $2,000, while my many times rarer Sharp will be less than a third of that.

Sharp Ace Tasrget
Sharp Ace Target Standard.

And I am just one dealer. Look at that top picture again. That was the 2014 Texas airgun show that was smaller than the one coming up. And there were more airguns on those tables than you will ever see at all the gun shows you attend in your life. You betcha it’s worth it!

What about new airguns?

You don’t shop for new cars at a used car lot and you shouldn’t expect to find new airguns at an airgun show. Many people come to the show expecting to find large catalog dealers like Pyramyd AIR, with everything in the catalog on or under their table. “Yes, I do like your Air Arms S510XS with synthetic stock, but do you have it in red? I don’t really care for the blue.”

Air Arms S510XS
Air Arms S510XS laminate.

“Sure,” they say. “Give me a moment while I search through the 15 tractor trailer-loads of airguns we brought to this show. I’m sure I can find a red one for you.”

The deal

The deal with new airguns is you probably aren’t going to find them at an airgun show. But what you will find is an almost-new gun that some guy is selling to finance his next airgun purchase. And, on a sadder note, you’ll often find a guy walking through the aisles trying to sell his favorite airgun to buy food for his family, as I have done more than once. If it’s a long gun he probably has a white paper sign taped to a thin dowel rod stuck down the bore. Watch for it. If it’s a handgun he’s carrying in a pistol case. If he’s got a backpack, he’s a pseudo dealer on wheels. Talk to him.

There is at least one exception to the dealer thing. AirForce Airguns is one of the Texas show’s main sponsors and they are selling new airguns at the show. And they have blems, bargain hunters. And they also manufacture the RAW airguns, so you could see one of them there, too.

I want an FWB 124

Here is an airgun show tale that I find exceptionally amusing. A guy comes to the show expecting to find and buy an FWB 124. He really, really wants one. He wants one almost as much as he wants a TX200, but he thinks he hasn’t got the money for one of those. 

So, he walks the aisles, searching for his expected treasure. He is so focused that he walks past three TX200s that are selling for about what he expected to pay for the 124. He actually can’t see those rifles because his mind has a template of a 124. If what he sees doesn’t fit that template, it’s of no interest. Been there; done that; got the t-shirt; wore it out.

Build a Custom Airgun

Funny story

At the Findlay Toys that Shoot airgun show several years ago Pyramyd AIR had several tables. They were there to get rid of pellets in dented tins and some airguns they had acquired when they bought out smaller dealerships. I saw a beautiful FWB 124 on their table and Tyler Patner asked me what they should charge. I gave him a price that was reasonable, but not dirt cheap. I think I said $300 for a beautiful 124 deluxe. I then spent the day sending people over to their tables to look at that 124. Finally,  just after noon I went by and Tyler told me lots of people had looked at the rifle but there were no buyers. He had lowered the price I gave him two times to $250. I simply could not stand it any longer. I bought that air rifle on the spot and you have read about it in this blog. If you want it, come to my estate sale, because I ain’t a-gonna sell it unless I have to.

FWB 124
The very FWB 124 BB bought at the Findlay show.

But I want…

… an IZH 61. Come to the Texas show. I am selling two of them for $60 each — both in boxes!!!!!

… an IZH 46. Come to Texas. I have one to sell. It’s too cheap to list here.

Oh, hey, BB, how about selling me one of those right now? Fahgetaboutit. BB is taking his stuff to the show and putting it on his tables. And he is pricing things for cheap like he did at the Malvern show in 2021. Be there or be square.

Don’t tell me there aren’t bargains at airgun shows. You may not find the exact airgun you are looking for, but widen your search a little. There is plenty of good stuff. Reader Jonah wanted a TX 200 Mark III. I had brought mine to the last show just so he could shoot it, but there were at least two for sale on tables and he bought one. I believe he got a great price, too. Jonah?


Reader Jonah found his TX200 Mark III at the Texas show.

Watch for THAT guy

Remember me telling you about a guy with a rifle or pistol(s) to sell? EVERY airgun show I have ever attended has at least one of those guys. You never know what he will bring, so be a Boy Scout and come prepared. I remember a show at Roanoke, Virginia, where a guy walked in carrying a genuine Austrian army Girardoni. Several collectors with deep pockets made him lowball offers but a guy who flew in from the United Kingdom paid him $3,500 cash for the rifle and one soldier’s hand pump. The United Kingdom, folks!!!!! Don’t tell me you live too far away from the show! The United Kingdom!

And by the way, $3,500 sounded like a lot of money to me in the late 1990s and still does today. But today’s value of the air rifle he bought is at least $80,000 and could be close to $100,000 with that hand pump. So, watch for THAT guy.

At one show in Little Rock, Arkansas a doctor pulled his car up to the entrance, rented a table right inside the entrance garage door and proceeded to sell box after box of like-new-in-the-box Beeman airguns he had purchased 20 years earlier. He had the bills of sale for each gun in their original boxes (of course he did!) and he sold them for exactly what he had paid for them, so for the guys with cash in their pockets it was a trip back in time.

Cash

Yes, cash. Dealers at airgun shows are private individuals just like you and me. They don’t take checks from people they don’t know and they FOR SURE don’t take credit cards! Do you try to use your card at a garage sale? Come on, guys!

Other stuff

Every show has a personality. At the Texas show it’s ranges to try out airguns you want to purchase and also specialty airguns like big bores. In the past Hatsan, Umarex and AirForce have had their big bores and smallbore PCPs on the range and Crosman had their full auto BB guns available to try. The bullets, pellets, BBs and air/CO2 were all provided free. Hoot mon! Ye kenna git a bitter deal than that!

Prizes are another part of many airgun shows. There will almost always be a door prize for one lucky attendee plus numerous raffle prizes. So, if the attendance is 300 or so, you have a decent chance to win. And the raffle tickets are sold all show long. In 2017 a young man who was celebrating his birthday that day won a $4,000 Air Arms RSN 70 Limited Edition donated by Pyramyd AIR and someone else won an AirForce Texan! These are good prizes, folks! And, once again, you aren’t competing with that many people.

prize boy
This lucky young man won the $4,000 Air Arms RSN70 Limited PCP donated by Pyramyd AIR. And, it was his birthday!

If only I had known earlier

Don’t you dare say that in the comments. I write about these shows and publicize their dates well in advance. You guys whine and cry when there aren’t any shows. Stop whining that you would have gone if only…

Summary

An airgun show is well worth whatever you have to do to attend. I know many people who went to one, just to see what it was like, and they are now at every show I attend. If you have been to a show, please tell the other guys what impressions you had.

34 thoughts on “Attending an airgun show”

  1. B.B.
    I’m here to tell all your readers to go to an AIRGUN SHOW.
    You will be amazed at what is there. Bring cash, but don’t put it all in one pocket.

    Even if all you do is load up on your favorite pellets at half price.

    Go,

    -Yogi

  2. BB,

    Going to have to go to the American Embassy one of these days and try to get a visa. The fly in the ointment is that the line is too long. Need better justification from my CFO to apply for one.

    Siraniko

  3. What a great time I have had at airgun shows! You might have to drive a few hours, but it is well worth it. Several of the airguns I have owned over the years I acquired at airgun shows. I still have my 1906 BSA, which by the way, BB encouraged me to buy.

    You will see new airguns at airgun shows. Some dealers will sell them at good prices and others will sell them at MSRP. I bought my HM1000X from Joe Brancato at a very good price long before AirForce bought them out.

    You will be able to journey back through the years. I have seen several different Giffard rifles and pistols. I have also seen a Girardoni. I have seen a table covered with absolutely beautiful HW 55s. Did you know that you can get a kit from Baikal to convert an IZH 61 into a PCP?

    If you are East of the Mississippi, plan on showing up at the North Carolina Airgun Show in Newton, NC on October 28th AND 29th.

    https://www.tmacsairgunservice.com/airgunshow.html

    This place is almost as big as a football field indoors. There is a shooting range out back. Genuine NC BBQ. I will be there on the 29th with my grandson in tow.

    • Not Texas this time, but plans are well under way for FM to attend the Newton show, very likely both days. Thanks for this “what to expect” preview, B.B. – it will be a first for me. May the Force of Cash be with you for your sales in Texas. We’re fortunate to have friends and family between Charlotte, Hickory and Beech Mtn so we’re gonna make the best of all worlds. Yes, looking forward to having some of that fine Western NC BBQ, shredded or sliced, doesn’t matter. And eyes out for potential acquisitions and/or supplies, tools, what have you. FM has a list!

      It would be nice to meet up, RidgeRunner. Sure hope this looming railroad strike does not mess things up for either show and create a lot of much more serious problems, concerns and collateral damage.

  4. These are a great show. Don’t have any plans for a special “new/old” air gun, but never know what will be on the next table.
    I’ll be one of those guys with a shoulder pack with an air pistol or two to sell. Probably a Sheridan and a 392 also. Probably have another one of two in the car to bring in also.

  5. BB,

    An IZH 61 for $60? 😮 You crazy, mister!!
    At the recent Findlay show they were being sold for $200.

    You better brace yourself; when the doors open there will be a Black Friday-style stampede for your table.

        • Haha, yup, I’m a used car dealer so I know how it goes. I can have a $19.000 truck with the lowest miles, best condition and most options…lowest price within 500 miles and I will still get some jackwad come in and offer $15,000 for it CASH, even though he doesn’t have cash and has no credit and will have to go to his bank to be turned down for the 10th time.

          There is always one and CASH means nothing to a used car dealer. Cash, check or bank draft..it all goes into the bank and is available tomorrow morning. I wish people would learn that….Steps off of soapbox after a long day.

  6. The Sharp target rifle would be intriguing as a field target rifle but now with the Dragonfly if I want another multi-pump, I think I can hold off. I’ve always wanted a vintage 10m rifle and was fortunate enough to buy an Anchutz LG 380 recently.

    Brent

  7. BB

    Very informative. You told us with actual examples what to expect when attending an airgun show for the first time. I just firmed up my plan to be at Hickory, NC for the Newton show. Hope to meet some of you there. I will be wearing a Weihrauch or Diana cap.

    Deck

    • You’ve given FM an idea – maybe pick a t-shirt/hat combo hat stands out – not too outlandish – and post a pic here. Maybe a shirt with a bullseye? Maybe not such a good idea. Just know you need to be looking more down than up to spot FM. 😉 Or use a spotting scope.

  8. Man, I had it all planned out, show up to the show, sell a few guns, let people see the New JTS airguns that will be hitting the shores soon, demonstrate 3D printing to some people to get them interested, sell some 3D printed parts for vintage airguns, i already have the things lined up in the back bedroom.

    But NOOO, Tom has to go start listing stuff….

    Now it a mad rush to figure out how much money i can squeeze out of the bank account, without the wife getting too mad, what I can spend and still have gas money to get there and back….

    TOM JUST TAKE MY MONEY!!!

    We will have 2 tables, one demonstrating 3D printing, and one with airguns and airgun stuff for sale.

    Oh, I now make and sell mount for Crosman MKI & MKII pistols,

    Hope to see many of our readers there!!!

    Ian
    3D Airgun Works.

  9. Thanks BB! Booked my hotel room last night. Four and half hour drive so not too bad at all. Looking forward to meeting you and hopefully some other regulars from here. Should be a great time!

    • Hello all,
      I had made plans to attend the Texas show. Had requested time off to visit my sister and on the way stop by. Have been working overtime for over a month, recycled cans and bottles, taken lunch to work and avoiding the cafeteria (haved saved a pretty penny). Even clipped coupons. As luck might have it, we have a new Administrator and a new Director of Nursing. People have left work and now we are even shorter staffed. In short, won’t make it. Was very much looking forwards to attend my first airgun show and rush B.Bs tables.

      Have fun everyone. Don’t let the unexpected get you down.

      • Alex2no, I feel for you friend! My wife is an RN of 24 years and currently a DON of a facility and it is always so chaotic especially with a buyout and new ownership. It’s hard for us to plan anything together as her schedule is always in limbo. Hope you get to make it to the next one!

  10. Everyone,
    I once attended an airgun show without any spending money and proceeded to have a pity party for myself. Everyone was showing what they just bought and I saw really good deals that I could not buy. Looking back, I just wasted what could have been a much more enjoyable trip if I had just switched my focus. I could of helped friends find what they were looking for. I could have had a fun day meeting as many people as I could and jotting down their names. I could have spent the day on the range trying out guns I had never shot before. I just wanted to post this because most all of us will at some point be in a similar position. If you can afford to make the trip and attend you can have a good time without spending money.
    David Enoch

    • David, that is such a great comment. For several years, I have had to stay behind a table for most of the show, but I agree that just walking around, seeing all the variety, and meeting such interesting people who share an interest is worth making a trip. Looking forward to seeing you there, and to visit with quite a few of the regulars here!

    • FM feels your pain due to similar experiences at gun shows. However, to walk around, see interesting guns and historical artifacts while speaking to owners and knowledgeable people about them always made FM glad to have shown up. If nothing else, hope to learn something in Newton, even if nothing more than when shooting, gravity matters. Ok, that was bad.

  11. Hope to go, too. That’s where I met BB and bought his book on the R1, met Mac (RIP) and did a trade for a .177 Disco for his “easy pump:” Benjamin 392, bought a TX200 with Bushnell scope and bubble level for a fair price and met Gene Salvino who sold me two rifles from PA (HW50S and a Crosman Nitro). Also met Ridgerunner and another reader whose name escapes me plus a Crosman repair specialist from Upstate NY was there and just GAVE me one or two parts to repair my Crosman 1300 pistol! Hi, Tom Slocum!

    Good times!

    Fred formerly of the Peeples Republik of NJ now happily in GA

  12. The 2016 Texas Air Gun show was my first show and I have made every effort to make it and the Arkansas show ever since.
    Tom has given us a very comprehensive look into how to make the most of the experience.
    Last show in Arkansas the money was very tight from the buyers and my experience mirrored David’s in the comments above. Missing out on the fun worrying about moving some of the guns on my table. This year if nothing I bring sells then I will just post it on Ebay for more money.
    But I plan on making some good deals.
    Interestingly enough I am bring a FWB 124 to sell on my table.lol
    Hopefully Tom will put a limit of 2 items per customer until 10AM to give everyone equal opportunity at some of the bargains on his tables.
    A lot of the thing about going to the show for me is meeting and talking to people that share an interest. I do not run up on very many air gun enthusiasts in day to day life.
    Hope to see you there,
    Pat Gray

  13. Jeff does a great job at this show. Arlington Sportsman’s Club (in Mansfield, Texas – south of Fort Worth) is a perfect venue. You will see a huge variety of old and newer airguns, and usually you can walk out and try the gun on the ASC range a few yards away. I’ll be there, and will be selling Pelletgages at a show special price. Stop by and say hello.

  14. About 20 years after purchasing my first airguns I picked up a new air rifle when I was leaving the Del Mar CA ‘Cross Roads of the West Gun Show’ One just caught my eye and it was big, powerful, reasonably nice looking and cheep. A China made QB-25.

    However I could never hit anything with it and so it sat along with any desires to seriously get into air gunning for another 20 years. Went to one small ‘Airgun Show’ with a friend but was not particularly into airguns at the time.
    A remake of my old broken Daisy1894 Spittin Image caught my eye one day and I decided to get one for parts. Discovered Pyramyd AIR and our Godfather, Tom.

    The rest is history and I can’t keep track of how many I have now. Why ? I have no reason to get rid of any.,.. for now. Evidently the reason I purchased each of them still exists. And BB got me checking for loose stock screws on that QB-25.. It’s not perfect, but a much improved shooter now compared to what it was.

    So tell me BB, or anyone, what are the biggest reasons people sell off their airguns?
    Not including dealers doing it for a living.

  15. Bob M., I have never sold any, but I would imagine I would if I had so many that some were not being shot or were not needed for parts or any other reason, to thin the herd, so to speak.

    B.B. while the usual lament is airguns that were NOT purchased or airguns that should NOT have been sold, I’m wondering if this might be a good Friday blog…airguns that were or should have been sold and why.

  16. Why do people sell off their airguns? FM has not sold any, still in “acquisition mode,” thankfully. The reasons are similar to why people sell off their favorite things – you get too old to use them, health concerns, you get “hobby burnout,” lotsa reasons. Hope not to sell the prized possessions, but would prefer to pass them on to those who would use, take care of and appreciate them.

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