Saturday, September 8, 2012


For the first time in years, I went to a gun show today. A friend had a booth there, and it's a part time gig I'm thinking about entering into in the future. A brick and mortor gun store would be great, but a used gun internet and gun show emporium would certainly have much lower start up costs. The upside to the brick and mortor gun store is that you get the walk-in sales of used guns from folks, sometimes at bargain prices. That's what I'm particularly interested in dealing in is used revolvers and autos and some long guns.

It was one of the smaller gun shows I've ever been to. Some of the old ones in Houston took hours to quickly peruse, but this one took about an hour of slow deliberate looking and a couple of second looks. I was disappointed in the mostly generic stuff you can find cheaper at any store like Academy or even at some of the gun stores I patronize. Some of the dealers, of course, had outrageous prices compared to the other booths at the show, and compared to most gun shops. I wonder how these guys make money because there was no business going on at the very outrageously priced new item dealers.

I saw lots of sales going on with the reasonably priced dealers and not so much if at all with the high priced folks. I'm guessing that gun purchasers do use the internet and do shop other stores and look at gun auction sites and are aware the east nowadays of buying a gun anywhere in the US and having it shipped for a fee on both ends to a local FFL dealer to then legally transfer it to you.

So it baffles me why these guys are selling new Glocks for $750 without night sights when any fool can get one for a couple of hundred less at any number of locales, and with some good shopping or a sale can get one at around $500 (less even with a LE discount from some dealers).

There were other booths selling new guns only, and they had either the standard decent gun store prices or sometimes even screaming deal prices. For instance, one dealer had great prices on Baikal shotguns and WASR rifles (one next door selling the same rifle for twice what this guy had them going for, and the low priced guy was moving them out the door).

One booth that was really great was a couple of young gunsmiths who do Glocks and AR's. They've got good training and had plenty of their products on had. I was particularly taken by the special grip inlay they had done on a Model 17 that had a full panopoly of modifications. They took a miniature Texas Ranger style badge (five points in a circle), which is basically a 1/2" diameter tie-tac sized type deal and inset it firmly and smoothly into the grip. You couldn't feel it at all when you gripped the gun.

The badge was inscribed In Memory of ...(a fallen LE officer) (I'm so sorry I forgot the young man's name but he wasn't from my area) and was very nice looking. They had also put what I think were Arotek sights on the gun, a small low profile rear peep sight I found to be very conducive to grabbing a quick sight picture in looking at it. The gun grip had their grip reduction treatment as well as a new stippling applied, which appeared to be the soldering iron method, but was perhaps the best I've ever seen in terms of both grip reduction and retexturing.

The guns also featured their smithing work on the actions and polishing all parts, etc. I'll say this, it was the best trigger I've ever used on a Glock, and I love the uniformity of Glock triggers. This was not a lighter pull, but a smooth pull of the the same approximate weight as the stock Glock factory pull but with a smooth take up.

I've got no problems with the Glock trigger so when I do take them a gun for some work I won't have the firing mechanism worked on, other than to be, as Xavier says on his blog, buffed and fluffed. I'm not unhappy with the grip finish on my Gen 3 Glocks, and I'm not entirely convinced that the grip reduction results in a significant different in the size of the grip. Rather, I think of it as more of a "SF" (short frame) type adjustment like the big caliber glocks have.

I was impressed, as I said, with their work on the inlay. It was solid and very nicely done. So at the very least, I'd like to find me a mini-badge like that and have it inlaid into the grip on both sides. I'd also like a set of those peep sights like I saw. They were nice sights and fit into the stock Glock sight grooves.

There were a couple of reasonably priced booths that I found a couple of interesting guns at.

The first gun I took a liking to was a Remington 1100 with an 18" barrel and a pistol grip. $299 out the door and the gun was in great internal and external condition. The hard plastic pistol grip was a cheapo, and would be better replaced with a Pachmayr or even a cut down pistol grip from an 1100 wood stock. It was tempting, and I might have to go back with about $250 cash.

There was a nice .22 magnum Automag II   in I guess very good condition, overpriced a bit at $750. That's the second Automag II I've seen this year, the other being in an obsolete caliber, the 9mm Magnum. I'd never even heard of that caliber, and was an avid gun magazine reader back then and a fan of the Automag II. As I recall, and I could be wrong, they also made the Automag II in .30 caliber, which would be an interesting gun to shoot and own. Heck, I'd buy an M-1 to match it if I could find one at a decent price.

I'm always on the lookout for a 1960's-70's Marlin bolt action .22 tube magazine gun. I did run into one that was of probably 1950's vintage, but the safety lever knob was broken off and he wouldn't come down off of the premium price he had on it. I've got one from my youth, and I've about shot the rifling out of it. Not quite, but it's had "many" rounds through it in the 50 years since my dad bought it when I was a mere child. I've run into a few every now and then, but they've always been rougher than the one I have, and I'd like a nice one.

I found a very interesting customized Marlin 45-70 lever action. It looked to have been Magnaported but the interesting thing about it was that the muzzle break or whatever the 3" long portion on the end of the barrel that had three ports on each side was, this portion was permanantly attached to the barrel of the gun, which looked to be maybe 13" long, giving an overall legal length of 16". This muzle brake was just a wee bit wider than the barrel itself. It also had a nice set of sights on it.

In fact, the end of the barrel looked almost to have been milled from the same piece of metal as the barrel. Neither was threaded, and there was no gap I could see even with glasses on. It was in excellent condition for $650 out the door.

I saw a new Rossi Ranch Hand (although not the chopped down Steve McQueen model but an 18" barrel fully stocked lever action carbine) .410 lever action for under $300. Very tempting. Marlin makes  a similar gun and markets it occasionally through Cabela's.

I saw a bunch of reasonably priced Marlin 336's both with and without scopes.

Finally got to handle the Sig Model 938, the 9mm cousin to the mini-1911 .380 Sig introduced several years ago. It's a nice sized gun and I'd like to have one. It looks fun. The Nightmare was (over)priced at $750 and the Extreme at $799. I nice sized mini 9mm that with the extended magazine fits my hand just right.

I saw a couple of the old Llama mini-1911 clones in .380 in great shape. I'd really like to have one of those in .22 but didn't see any of those.

The parts booths there were limited to magazines and AR accessories. And tons and tons of knives. Unfortunately, none of the booths had any decent Boy/Cub scout knives, marlin spike knives, or any Puma Bowie, White Hunter or Sea Hunter knives to look at, as those are on my radar screen right now.

I also didn't see any of the real cool folding stainless steel fishing knives Puma used to make, which like the combo guns I was hoping to see I didn't find,  with the big round steel ball on one end because the knife had a built in fishing weight scale.

There were not any AK accessory boths, nor did I see even 1 Mosin-Nagant related item or gun. I was looking for a side-folder wooden stock for an AK and alas, no one had any AK stuff other than mags for sale.

I only saw a couple of SKS's that were reasonably priced NIB Norincos from the early 1990's. I saw some mini-Draco's double priced at $799.

To my utter dismay, there were only a couple of combo rifle/shotguns at the show, and both were rimfire which is not what I was looking for.  I was looking for a Savage Model 24, ideally in a 20 gauge but at this point I'd take a 12 and shoot low recoil shells out of it, with either a .223, .357 or a .30-30 centerfire barrel.

The 20 gauge frame for the Savage 24 is significantly lighter than the 12 gauge frame, making a lighter gun to carry afield. Although I have several 12 gauges, I pretty much exclusively shoot 20's nowadays. My last little recent foray with 200 rounds of 12 gauge through an admittedly very nice Remington 870 left me way too sore to fly fish later that day. Or the next.

So the 20 is the ticket for me. Foolishly, I say, foolishly last year I passed up a rare Savage 24 combo in .357 over 20 and it was actually at a decent price. How much better could that get for a lightweight field rifle, since you can load a .357 pretty hot in a nice rifle and get right up near a .30-30, and you could carry matching ammo with a .357 revolver and have the option of lower powered and cheaper .38 specials.

The gun auction sites right now are loaded with .222/20 or 12 Savage combos and this is certainly an acceptable caliber but the ammo is much more expensive than .223.

Although the .357 variant would be a catch, the low recoil .30-30 loads out now give an option for when you don't want a full kicking load but still give pretty good brush-busting performance and they made a whole lot more of the .30-30 Savage's  than they did the .357's.

In the end, I found a cheap deal on a very nice belt holster for a SAA with a 5" barrel. New and $20 and made by a fellow retiring from the leather business due to arthritis. I've got one of his other holsters I picked up used about 15 years ago in a gunshop in Houston, a sorta Doc Holiday western style shoulder holster but for a modern Colt Detective Special. I recognized his stamp on his leather today and ended up having a nice conversation with him.

And if you spot a Savage 24 combo with a centerfire barrel atop of it at your local gun store, please let me know where it is.

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