Newbie Collector Goes to his first gun show - any advice?


#1

I am going to my first gun show since I decided to collect ammo. I think that I want to stay in the sub .50 BMG(ish) range as far as collecting. Beyond that I am a newbie and I don’t really have any idea what to look for, or what I should focus on. Or should I focus at all?

What about prices? What does a single, relatively common round sell for? Anything I should be aware of?

Any thoughts?


#2

From my limited experience, I have found gun shows a poor place to find collectable ammunition. Now days, promotors frown on having loose ammo around a gun show. I have found some nice whole box deals from time to time though.

In my part of the country, I have better luck at flea markets, the bigger the better.

My rule on prices has always been stay around what current prices run(new ammo). Sometimes I pay more but only if I know its special. I’ve had sellers try to sell a bandolier of WWII ammo for twice the price of new or recent ammo, claiming the shortage of ammo right now. I smile, wish them luck and walk away shaking my head.

I strongly recommend you look over the web sites of collectable dealers, especially IAA members, to get an idea of prices. Also, they are a reliable source for pieces you might need, or want, too. The ones I have dealt with have been more than fair and reliable. Visit auction sites with caution…GREAT CAUTION!

I’m sure some of the older hands at this will chime in but I say go to the show, enjoy yourself and keep you wallet deeeep in your pocket!


#3

Walk slow, look for little out-of-the-way boxes and cups of mixed dirty old ammo. If you find a dig-box of stuff, as what he’ll take for the whole thing. Should be CONSIDERABLY less than the per round price. Then you can search through your treasures at leasure. That’s half the fun.


#4

IMHO, gunshow prices are “retail +” IOW “tourist pricing” for the rubes.
IF you and the vender are both IAA members, he may offer you a discount on a multi-piece purchase (but don’t expect it).
The lowest prices, esp on the “common” stuff is at a regular cartridge show (the first time you make the St Louis show you’ll be drooling all over yourself).

50 cal and under covers a lot of terratory, rimfire, patent ign, transitional types, BP loadings, US, British, Euro, military, sporting, wildcats, target, experimentals, etc are just some of the specialties in that size range.

As some general advise (and I’m passing on what I was advised to do when I started out) If you can locate a “general” collector in your area, perhaps he’ll be willing to allow you to view his collection. Select the type(s) that “turn your crank” and start a list of what cartridges you want the most (this helps to reduce the number of things to look at when you get to a real cartridge show).
Pick up reference books whenever possible, esp those that cover the area your most interested in. Cartridges of the World and Ammo Encyclopedia (both available from Dave at www.ammo-one.com ) make good “general/starter” references. More advanced references are things like the 4 volume set by George Hoyem, “30-06” by Chris Punnett (handy for a number of other cartridges also), the 2 volume (hopefully the 3rd volume will be out before long) set on US military small arms ammo by Hackley, Woodin and Scranton and John Barbers book on US/Canadian Rimfire cartridges. I don’t have any of Tony Williams books, but the reviews I’ve seen would qualify them as other ones to consider owning.
Purchase the “expensive” cartridges when you can (they only get more valuable) over buying a bag full of $1 cartridges (which will only ever be worth a buck).

Geeze, now it looks like “I’m” writing a book.


#5

The belowstated is not intended to disparage hunters in any way.
Try to go to small local gun shows usually done by gun clubs. The (usual) crowd will be hunters who (usually) sneer at old (not newly made) and military ammo. They are likely to give it away for close to nothing. Stay away (usually) from antique shop ammo, antique dealers do not know (usually) the proper value and think that they got King Solomon’s mines in that old box. Antique shop prices are (usually) 10 times the norm. Just go to SLICS and tell everyone you’d like to start collecting ammo.


#6

“Purchase the “expensive” cartridges when you can (they only get more valuable) over buying a bag full of $1 cartridges (which will only ever be worth a buck)”

I guess I agree with this in principle, but not in this case…for a beginning collector. New collectors need to get their feet wet with a bunch of cheap stuff before they go spending on the big money rounds that they don’t have a clue about. Spend some time on the common stuff and learn how to ID and analyze rounds. Get a feel for what you want to collect, and learn what’s good and what’s trash. That “bag of $1 cartridges” is a great learning tool, worth far more than a buck.
Then get serious.


#7

Jon
I guess I kinda stated that wrong, because as a fairly new collector myself, I look at anything over $30 as an “expensive” cartridge (and yes, I’ve got a couple 3 that set me back more than that). I wasn’t meaning that he should purchase only the $100+ items.
Again, it comes down to “what” it is he’s most interested in. Modern sporting ammo is fairly inexpensive, for the most part, so IF that’s what he’s into, “expensive” might be defined at a $10 item (and a lot of modern sporting ammo can be had free for the asking at the local gun range). IE: A 577 T-Rex @ $20 (for the WOW factor) over buying 20 pieces of assorted “everyday” range rounds (30-30, 38spl, 40S&W, 9mm, 223, 308, etc) for the same money. Now, if he’s into something a little more “exotic” (say Euro metrics), that aren’t exactly thick on the ground at the local shooting range, than “grab bags” are a great place to start (I love the silent auctions at SLICS, just for that reason)


#8

Wow, thanks all, for the great advice.

Since my local gun show is today, I’m going to go just to see what I see, like I do with the guns and other stuff. If anything, it will be a learning experience as I have never really paid that much attention to ammo before.

BTW, what is SLICS?

Also, is there a schedule anywhere of the “real” cartridge shows?


#9

Hey Rich

THIS is SLICS:
iaaforum.org/forum2/viewtopic.ph … ight=slics


#10

[quote=“theothertexasrich”]Wow, thanks all, for the great advice.

Since my local gun show is today, I’m going to go just to see what I see, like I do with the guns and other stuff. If anything, it will be a learning experience as I have never really paid that much attention to ammo before.

BTW, what is SLICS?

Also, is there a schedule anywhere of the “real” cartridge shows?[/quote]

cartridgecollectors.org/ctgshows.htm
There may be some smaller shows close to you, you might check with the Texas guys to find out.


#11

Texas Rich the other - how about giving us a brief report after the show? Just to see how you enjoyed it, if it was a successful venture for you, etc. This will help other new collectors who see this Forum decide whether to go or not. We care about your opinion.

Thanks. Welcome to the hobby and our IAA Forum. Please consider joining IAA if you have not already. It is well worth it, especially the “Electronic” membership, and you will not regret it.


#12

With this thread fresh in my mind, I went to a local gunshow today. Have not been to one in years and have always heard this one was poor but I thought it was pretty interesting. There was some older, interesting ammo about but the 1st ammo table I saw I asked the owner if he was an IAA member.
“Used to be.”
“Any need for me to look thru your stuff?” I asked.
"No, but there is a guy back there that has some interesting stuff."
So with that I saved a lot of time looking thru a lot of boxed ammo. The guy in question had some interesting boxes and some unusual stuff but nothing I felt a rush about. He did have an Amtech display, including a box of 38 Special ammo, for $50 but I had already spent my budget so I left it.
I bought 2 boxes 9mm FX Simunition just to have when this stuff is history. For $10 per box, it was within my budget guidelines.
There was some older Mil surplus ammo about, the common stuff, and a box or 2 here and there that caused a pause but the prices were off the wall! One fellow had a box of blanks and he claimed it was the last box I would probably ever see!


#13

Any Gun Show, Cartridge Show, Flea Market, Antique Shop, Garage Sale, Public Auction is worth looking. You just never know. I have found some good cartridges at all of the above. It doesn’t cost anything to look.

JMHO

Ray