The end of an era

As I told my friends, Saturday I went to witness history–the last Charlotte Gun Show at the old Metrolina Expo Center in Charlotte, NC.  The site, which for many years has been the home to fairs, antique shows, gun shows and other events has been sold.  While I was there many of the long term antique vendors were loading up and construction workers were demoing some buildings.

For NASCAR short track fans, the site is also the home of the old Metrolina Speedway.  You could still see it, barricaded off behind a tall fence.  The Charlotte Observer actually did a good write-up on the entire story when the sale was made public.

I’m going to miss the old Metrolina.  For one thing, it’s the last place in Charlotte that I know of that still uses that term in its name.  Progress can be a wonderful thing, but as I get older I’m beginning to think too much of it sucks.  Hey you kids–get off my lawn!

At any rate, Daughter, Boyfriend and I ventured off Saturday to the gun show.  Based on Intertubes reports, I expected pandemonium–ARs flying off tables, fights over the last box of 5.56 and that sort of thing.  Instead, it was closer to…crickets.  Attendance was lower than any Charlotte show I’ve ever seen.  It’s entirely possible that this was due to the weather, which was unseasonable cool with low humidity.  I imagine more than a few folks were elsewhere, outside, enjoying it.

So let’s get the all important panic buying report out of the way.  There were plenty of ARs–literally in some cases, tables of them, ranging from bargain basement types to high buck upper-end marks.  Prices were the same as what I saw 3 weeks ago in Winston Salem.  There was plenty of 5.56 ammo and magazines, prices on those also stable.  Ditto parts kits, uppers, lowers, accessories, the whole list.  There was no panic to be detected.  People were, however buying steadily when a vendor had good prices,

I was able to talk to a few dealers I know, and the prevailing opinions were:

  • People who thought they needed to stock up have done so.  Only the few who have seen the light since the last event are panicking now.
  • People are over being panicked because the Gun Salesman of the Decade and his all Liberal Orchestra have cranked up for another chorus of “Gimme All Your Guns, Bitter Clingers”.  
  • People are tired of being played be unscrupulous vendors.

Hey, I dig it.  The Gun Culture has wised up.  Good for us.

One thing that I have always liked about the Charlotte show was the number of quality vendors, and this final show was perhaps the best ever.  Even the non-firearms vendors of jewelry, food and so on were excellent.  I got some tremendous fudge (peanut butter, chocolate and vanilla/chocolate swirl) and Daughter grabbed a bit of jewelry and an old license plate that struck her fancy.  There was a vendor of high end cured meats that just killed me, but I had to pass up that fragrant delicious goodness.  I’ve learned that cured meats in quantity are a trigger for migraine attacks.  Just great.

Lest you think I forgot I was at a gun show, I did do some buying.  I’m going to have to stop this soon or get my own tables and start selling off a few.  Safe space (of the gun safe kind) is becoming a scarce natural resource.  But, since my recent birthday present to myself was an NFA trust and some goodies to fill it (which I figure I’ll see around my next birthday), I did want to look for a couple of .22s with threaded barrels.  After having done some reading, I decided to look for either a Ruger 22/45 or a Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory, either in the threaded barrel version and a Ruger 10/22 Takedown with the threaded barrel and flash suppressor.

After looking at and handling several 22/45s and Victories, I decided to go with the Victory.  I know there are more after market accessories available for the 22/45, but I liked the Victory in my hand better, and I was able to get it for very little extra over the best price on a 22/45 that I could find.

On the Ruger 10/22, you would have thought I was looking for Unobtainium, until I hit one of my go-to dealers, who I should have went to earlier.  They had a Davidson Gallery of Guns Distributor Exclusive 10/22 Takedown in stainless (bonus points!) with a Ruger BX-25 magazine in the deal.  Yeah, I snatched that up.

On the ammo front, .22 is starting to make a comeback at something approaching reasonable prices.  CCI Mini-mags, which were around $7.50/100 before Newton are now available for $12/100 in reasonable quantity.  I wound up with 1500 rounds of that and 500 rounds of the Winchester Super X.

Once again I will note the broadening of the audience for gun shows.  I saw white, black and Indian (sub-continent) and yes, Arab.  As you might expect, the Arab gentlemen were being not too discreetly observed by the rather obvious police presence.  A pity, but understandable given the circumstances.  I saw young black males who frankly raised my eyebrows a bit (Sorry, but dress like a gangsta and I’ll assume that’s what you are) being treated with courtesy by vendors as they asked questions about this or that gun.   I saw a lot of women, some of them in groups of just women, which I think is a wonderful sign.  The funniest thing I was was the family who was carrying the baby so they could use the stroller for the guns and ammo they’d purchased.  That was getting grins and elbow nudges all over the place. Plenty of kids, some of whom were apparently present for the task of getting that all-important first gun.  And as always the old guys, debating the merits of this or that.

Honestly, as the last show at the Metrolina, this one was the best I’ve ever been to.  I hated to leave, but all good things must come to an end.  Fortunately, while the Charlotte Gun Show at the Metrolina is over, the show will go on, but with another organizer and at another venue, the Park Expo and Conference Center on East Independance Blvd.  The next show is in August.  Two whole months….

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