In the tradition set by Xavier with his Pawn Shop Circuit, I will attempt to share my experiences at each one I attend. For the most part, I try to follow his advice from his gun show rules.
Cedar Rapids, Trade Show Productions, at Hawkeye Downs - 9/12/09
I try to always go with my neighbor a former gun dealer. I enjoy going on the hunt with him as he has plenty of stories of finds and losses. We split up as usual as I head to the dealers I purchased from before and he went in another direction. I didn't find anything that spoke to me, although he did.
The crowds were about half the size from 8 to 10 months ago and prices (for the most part) have stabilized or dropped. The dealers that always seem to have overpriced guns and ammo were highest, but I found one dealer whose ammo prices were less than some of the retail stores, although his selection was limited. Some dealers were selling, while others were priced to recoup their weekend expenses on one sale. Typical gun show.
What I did not see was people loaded up with cases of ammunition walking out the door (some on handcarts). And noticeably missing was the line and 5+ minute wait getting in the door.
I was looking for a magazine for a Marlin 25N and nothing much else in particular. I found the Marlin mag from a dealer from Durant, IA. At another table, I found new magazines for another rifle I have for $10 each. Not wanting to be greedy, I bought only four. Unless it's the last one or two on the table, I try not to snatch up an item and not give another guy a chance to buy too.
I tried to make a deal on a private sale, but he wouldn't budge on the price and I wished him well. And I met a gentleman who offered a surplus bag to me after I admired it. I didn't want to release him of a useful bag, especially if he bought boxes of ammo heavy enough to rip plastic bags. I will find one like it someday.
I've met a few horses' hind-ends at gun shows, but I also met some of the most friendly and courteous there too. It was a good few hours break in an otherwise busy day, and I enjoy being with friends.