At long last, there was a gun show this past weekend in Winston Salem, NC. Saturday was rainy and not suited for outdoor activity, so off I went with my carefully hoarded allowance.
As gun shows go, the Winston show is not one of my favorites. It isn’t bad, but it’s never been a really good show for me. Either this time was the exception that proves the rule, or I was just ready to get out of the house and commune with my fellow gunnies. I had an enjoyable and productive, if expensive, time.
While a lot of the reason I went was just to get away from the house, I also had an agenda and a shopping list. The agenda was to sort of “take the pulse” of folks after *President Biden’s big gun grabbing announcements. I accomplished that pretty easily. Everyone was willing to stop and talk, even the dealers when they weren’t busy. To a person they were
- Not Biden fans
- Not impressed with his proposals
- Of the opinion that most if not all of his proposals were unconstitutional
- Would like to have their country back
- Convinced that war, something akin to war or “bad times” was on the way
That last one concerns me. Sure, we’ve all been talking about it on the Interwebz, but a gun show is much more of a cross-section of society. At this show there were a lot of us old, fat white guys in our 50s or older, but there were also black and white family groups and one particularly interesting group of young black men (more on them later). From what I could hear-and I made a rather concerted effort to listen-no one is expecting sunshine and puppies any time soon. A significant number of the oldest attendees were determined that they would have one last remembered fight. (Bonus points if you get the reference.)
And they were all at a gun show, and buying purposefully. No panic, no OMG I gotta get a gun. Just a very serious inspection of what was available and quiet buying where appropriate to needs and budget. No one was walking out with an armload of guns or cases of ammo (there were no cases of ammo), but I saw a lot of folks buying a gun and several boxes of ammo. The guys like me were apparently there for mostly the same reasons I was, but the folks in their 20s-40s were there to buy a first, or from what I could gather, second gun, and it was all about self protection. I didn’t see one “hunting gun” sell in the 4-5 hours I was there, and the prices were quite reasonable.
Neither did I see many ARs sell. Prices ranged from $499 for a Ruger AR-556 to $1500 for some nicely tricked out custom guns built on big name lowers, such as Spikes Tactical. Pistols seemed to be the thing, with prices on new guns ranging from “same as they’ve been for the last year” to the $999 Glock G20, the outstanding example on one of several tables of a dealer who didn’t seem to be selling many guns. In contrast, the dealers with “reasonable” prices were busy selling out on Saturday afternoon.
There were more tables of collectible guns, such as Smith and Wesson and Colt, but they were going nowhere. I also saw a gentleman who brought in 2 what appeared to be older Winchester lever actions. I watched him carry them around and around the show.
Tables of parts ranging from complete uppers to lights and lasers of uncertain Chinese ancestry also didn’t move. Oddly enough, one of those tables had a good supply of Polymer 80 80% kits at a really good price, and not one sold to my knowledge. He also had a couple of $600 Glock 17 complete slides that also just sat there. I can understand the slides, but the kits? I’d have figured those would have been more popular.
Military surplus vendors did a little business, as did the jewelry vendors. No beef jerky was found.
I was able to pick up a quantity of .22 subsonic ammo at a good price, and a few boxes of odds and ends calibers at good to reasonable prices. I also picked up a really nice leather carry belt from Veteran’s Belts. Good heavy full-grain leather, 1 1/2″ wide, with easily replaceable buckles, $45 for any size. I’ll warn you their website is…primitive. Calling them at 704-260-0944 will probably work better.
Now, about that group of young black men. I’m afraid it’s a sign of the times we live in that they attracted a lot of attention, and not of the good kind, at least not a first. If you watched them for a while you could see that they were very young (I’d say no more than early 20s), had never owned and probably never shot a gun, didn’t know gun show etiquette, and weren’t in a position to buy today. However, they were well-spoken, not abrasive and they asked what sounded to me like reasonable beginner questions. They quickly picked up on the etiquette thing, and after a few amusing moments it seemed that the dealer telepathy net had sent and received the message that they were mostly harmless. After that, people seemed happy to talk to them and answer their questions. They were still there when I left. I think they were a touch overwhelmed by the whole thing.
Over all, it was a good time. Even with the event hall staff being maskholes, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Hopefully by the next on Gov. Cooped Up will allow us proles to breathe freely for a change.