Out in the trenches on Gun Appreciation Day…

This guest post by Victoria S and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

GUN SHOW 2This weekend is the weekend of the first big gun show of the year in our area – held in Springfield.(yes, the capital of Illinois, where the evil legislators tried to sneak in draconian gun control on the first part of the year… if only they knew what the masses would be doing later in the month…) Obviously, with it being Gun Appreciation Day, we had to go … but we were planning on going anyway. I figured I’d write our experiences up for everyone in the Pack to enjoy … this will be more informal than my usual writing, with lots of ellipses and parentheticals. I apologize in advance.

Normally, spouse, manchild and I don’t kill ourselves to be early to a gun show. We get there a few hours after they open, and don’t rush around. This time, we were actually wanting ammunition, so we needed to get there early to make sure we had our best chance of actually securing some. We also needed to price primers and bullets, and if they were better priced than our local supplier, we planned to pick some up. I also had some other items on my buying list – I wanted some stripper clips for our Nagant, we wanted to try out some Howa rifles we’re thinking of buying, we hoped to do the same with the Thompson Center Dimension interchangeable rifle, and I wasn’t adverse to picking up another Nagant at a decent price (or an SKS that wasn’t made in China.). I was also hoping to trade in some mother of pearl grips for a 1911 Colt Gold Cup (don’t ask – there’s a reason that gun is called the “pimp gun”) for something else, pick up some “dress grips” for a few other guns, see if I could find Ruger Mark III mags for spare, and continue our fruitless search for 7.62x54R reloading dies…(I’m going to end up just ordering it but I keep hoping…) In the end, we managed to secure a good bit of what we wanted, without being crushed or run over or going insane, but wow, it was an … interesting day.

We arrived 20 minutes before the show opened and there was a line stretching about 150 yards waiting to get in (Hubby provided the length estimate – blame him if someone else there disagrees). They let folks in 10 minutes early, and by then, the line had doubled in length. Luckily, it was a gun show crowd (well, mostly … the people in front of us were newbies at the whole gun show thing) so it was polite and orderly.

Once in, we headed right for the usual dealer that does mostly ammunition (and magazines, but we weren’t interested in AR-15 mags, thankfully). They did have some .22LR available at a bearable price – so we picked up 3 boxes. Then we started waiting in line. And waited. The table (well, it was actually a square – three tables long with two deep) was surrounded two deep with people, all trying to buy from two very very very harried sellers. While hubby waited, I took a spin through the floor, checking for more ammo and seeing what else struck me on a quick inspection. Son was off drooling on revolvers…

I did find one other person selling .22LR ammo, but they were pretty high on all their prices, so I avoided them and went back to wait with hubby. While waiting, we watched the ammo sellers sell at least 20 boxes of .223 (500 rds) at $420 a box. They were also doing a brisk business in 9mm Luger at $125 for a 500 round box. Eventually, we got to the head of the “line” and added another box to our check out (leaving four boxes of .22LR on the table for someone else) total. Paid $26 a box for 500 rounds. We called child over to take the ammo out to the car and started hunting down primers and bullets. Those we found easier, and at normal prices and in decent amounts. In fact, we found a new supplier of bullets at better than our usual purchasing price, so we bought a good bit. Child to the rescue again… sent him off to the car with the bullets and the primers (It’s good for him to exercise, right?)

With the “must” purchases out of the way, we started systematically strolling the tables, checking out prices, checking out guns, and generally getting the lay of the land. This was about 40 minutes into the show (50 after they let us in) and the line outside was still about 150 feet long. Luckily, this show stamps, and has an expedited line to get back in if you are stamped, so the poor child didn’t suffer too much.

Impressions from this time are that gun stocks are low. Shotguns (which are always popular in Illinois because we’re not allowed to hunt deer with rifles, just shotguns) are probably in best supply, with bolt action rifles and revolvers probably next in numbers. There were ARs and the like available, along with older military rifles, and even a few AKs, but they had doubled or tripled in price. Same for most modern parts. Older military guns had gone up a bit, but not horrid. SKSs (which were rare) were about $300 or up, and we only saw three Nagants – one for $140 which was pretty beat up, one for $200 which had been thoroughly cleaned, and one for $750, which was beautifully restored with a scope. Handguns are still available, but not nearly in the numbers they were before. Anything that could possibly be concealable was commanding a premium price – if you could find it. If it was used, it was priced at new prices. New manufacturers suggested price. The sky seemed to be the limit for people selling anything modern and “assault rifle looking”.

Most of the “big” sellers had much smaller stocks than usual. Several of the regulars had only one layer of rifle boxes, unlike usual where they have three or four levels of boxes on the tables, with more under the tables. Not the case now. Collectible and/or antique guns haven’t seen quite the hit, although the “cheap” end was noticeably lower in quantity (See above about SKSs and Nagants)

Reloading supplies and other parts (besides mags) are still available, and I didn’t really notice a price increase. Brass is starting to disappear, but it was still available, as long as you didn’t want .223. There were a lot of people selling high capacity mags but they were definitely increased in price. One seller told me that he’d started his pmags at $30 first thing in the morning. After half an hour, he said he increased it to $40, bumped it again to $50 shortly before I talked to him, and was going to keep increasing until he either sold out or hit a point where people weren’t buying. Yikes!

IMG_0304During this period, we passed back by the ammo seller we’d bought from earlier – they were out of .22LR, and the .223 stock was definitely lower. Although it was really hard to tell, because now the table was surrounded by people THREE deep. It never got less than that while we were there. I never did get close to any of the AR specialists – I’m not that interested and it wasn’t something I was going to fight the crowds for.

I noticed a few new sellers – so we had two sellers of emergency freeze-dried food. Paracord was not up in price, but more folks had it. Some “prepping” items were harder to find or up in price – especially some of the mil-surplus stuff like can openers or web gear.

Two hours in and the manchild had to get going to get to work. So we sent him off and noticed the line was still 150 feet long. The aisles were definitely packed and crowded. Lots of new people who I overheard discussing that they were at a gun show for the first time. Lots and LOTS of folks filling out 4473s at the various booths. Several very enterprising folks wandering around with secured guns trying to sell them. One guy had stuck a laminated sign on a stick into the barrel of his gun (which was slung over his shoulder) giving the specifics of the gun – nice nice idea! Another guy had a sign taped to his backpack doing pretty much the same thing – great advertising and a good way to get word out.

We wandered for probably another hour – just didn’t see anything else that grabbed us. We did find a place with the Howa rifles we wanted to test out. Took a card from them, so if we go that route, we’ll probably buy from them. Didn’t find any Dimension rifles so still need to try them out. Their stock is a bit different and we want to make sure we like the differences before going with that interchangable rifle system. No one was selling grips in any numbers so we didn’t do anything at all on that action item. We found plenty of Ruger Mark II mags, no Mark III mags, so I guess I’m going to have to keep looking. In general, mags were available, but not nearly in the numbers we’re used to seeing. As usual, we never saw a set of 7.62x54R dies…

Didn’t really see anything that odd or different or new at the show. There was a bit more toolish type things. More emphasis on cleaning and a few more folks with reloading stuff. Ammo cans were selling very briskly, but not at inflated prices. Did see two guys that were selling caching tubes for guns. That was a first.

This has always been a nice show. It’s held at the State Fairgrounds, but apparantly our governor is offended that state property is hosting such evil things as guns. The event organizers told us that this would be the last time probably at the fairgrounds, but we’ll see what happens.

After the show, we stopped by a local Scheel’s (think Cabela’s but a bit smaller) to see what was going on there. They had some .22LR – limited to 250 rounds per customer – so we each bought our limit. They were also limiting customers to 100 rounds of handgun or rifle ammo. No limit on shells for shotguns. We’ve been stopping in there about once a week lately for other reasons, and been watching the gun stocks slowly diminish. They are down a LOT on handguns. There are only two Smith & Wessons and two Taurus pistols in the case. A few more Rugers, but not many. Glocks are pretty much sold out. Same with most of the rest of the big names. Oddly enough, the Springfield Armory selection is a bit better – probably because the “man on the street” hasn’t heard of them so isn’t sure about whether to trust them. They still had some Colts – but they were mostly the presentation fancy guns. More revolvers than semi-autos, which isn’t surprising.

Any rifle with military styling is pretty well sold out too. Plinking rifles are still available, but not nearly as many of those as they used to have. Their used rifle selection is halved. Shotguns haven’t had quite as big a hit – they are mostly still available in a wide selection.

The big shocker was the line of people with filled out 4473s waiting to turn them in. It was about 40 or so people waiting to get their background checks done. I’ve never seen a line that long there. They had to bring in extra folding tables for the folks that were still filling out their paperwork. Also some of those poles and lines used to corral people into orderly lines. I snapped a couple of pictures, and blurred the faces out, so that folks can get a good idea of just how popular gun purchases are.

We left Scheel’s glad that we’ve mostly completed the handgun purchases we’re wanting to do for the next few months. Also glad we’ve got the brass and reloading situation under control (it’s not great, but I can live with our supplies except we need to get the equipment to reload shot shells.) The main thing we’re looking for now is a high powered hunting rifle to add to the Nagant – we’re leaning .308 but might go for a .30-06. Those types of rifles haven’t had near the hit that the “military styled” rifles have, so thankfully we’re not running into issues getting those. Just need to try out the Dimension before committing.

The main concern I have now is the availablity of .22LR. Son and I are shooting in a pistol league so we’re going through a decent amount of .22LR and since you can’t reload that… it’s a concern. If we didn’t reload though, I’d be very very very concerned about ammo supplies. If we didn’t have our pistol situation mostly under control, I’d also be concerned. Since we don’t have an AR, I’m not that concerned about high capacity mags and such. I’m certainly not going to buy an AR right now … the pricing is insane and we can get much of that functionality without having to pay inflated prices, if you’re smart about things.

I was too busy shopping and gawking to actually hug the guns yesterday. But I figure buying things for them will make them feel appreciated, right?

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About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. bwright1553 says:

    I live in a suburb of Chicago and my buddy is looking for a handgun. So off we go to a well respected gun shop. We got there around 1 in the afternoon and they were closing. The guy at the door said they were closing early because they were running out of stock and they were overwhelmed with paperwork. The only people that could come in were people that were picking up their newly purchased gun. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s also funny that you mentioned .22LR and .223’s. I haven’t seen a .223 in weeks and again, I thought I’d never see this, but I can’t find quality .22 LR at any of the places that sell ammo. Amazing!!

  2. Although we don’t have the population base that you have in IL, our last show out here was pretty much the same. Difference was it was in early Jan so there were quite a few AR/AK/SKS rifles in evidence, along with magazines. The crowd was orderly but unusually large at opening on Friday. And they seemed to come in teams, one for ammo one for guns.

  3. Just saw three sets of 7.62x54R dies at the local Fin, Feather and Fur, so they do exist.

  4. The first big show here in the DFW area in Texas was held this weekend and we saw the same types of crowds. The show floor was very packed but as you said gun owners are pretty good people so there were no problems. No riots like in MI to get housing vouchers! Prices were sky high. Ammo was plentiful but not cheap. The place I usually pick up ammo had, for the first time, clear plastic “walls” around the tables and were funneling everyone to 2 very overworked employees. AR’s were plentiful but also not cheap. I guess it’s going to be this way for the foreseeable future. Prices are quick to rise but slow to fall.

    .223/5.56 ammo – 500 rds for $500 to $540 (about $1 a round)
    .45 – 20 rds for $30 -$40
    PMAGS – $40 (30 rd)
    Del-Ton DT 16″ – $1299.99 (MSRP $699.00)
    I picked up a sling for my AR – $35
    Multi-Gun cleaning kit – $24.99 (Same as listed on manufacturers website)

  5. ” The beauty of the 2nd amendment is that it wil never be needed , until they try to take it away ”
    Thomas Jefferson

    • Went to our local wal-mart today to see what ammo they had. They had a few boxes of 9mm 40 cal 38 30-06 and 300 win mag that was it. They dd get shotgun shells back in as last time we were there the shelf was empty.

      • Not counting the stores that are selling out to the anti gun folks , but weapon and ammunition manufacturers cant keep up with current demand . Ruger is a good example , they only have 2 factories , not big ones at that …………they are at capacity now .

  6. recoveringidiot says:

    I attended the Raleigh NC show Sat morning. Very crowded, LONG line to get in and when we did get in the prices were crazy. I picked up one ammo can and called it quits. We are gone about 20 min when my buddy gets a call from another friend telling us some idiot has an AD/ND with a shot gun in the check and tie wrap line. Dinged three people with bird shot. That’s the last show for me at least until things calm down some. Stopped at a local shop on the way home and found deals a lot better than the gougers at the show. Thanks Democrats for making my hobby more expensive.

    • recoveringidiot,
      “Thanks Democrats for making my hobby more expensive.” I think until they can figure out how to ban them, this is part of the plan. They’ve been talking about a $0.05 per round tax as another interim step. Just hold on, ’cause I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

  7. Rob in Ontario says:

    I picked up 525 .22lr at local gun shop for $26 and 100 rounds of 7.62×39 for about $25

  8. I spent the day looking at photos of old steam engines with my son in my lap. We had a great time. Too bad I didn’t see anything wall poster sized. 🙁
    Guns I buy from the comfort of my own home
    I have have had great service with ammo orders from these people
    Even with the delay in processing, from store to door in four days. YMMV.

    Some people have gone nuts over the whole gun thing. Relax, get a good bolt action and several hundred rounds of ammo. Life isn’t going to be a Rambo movie any time soon, I hope. Renewable water and food sources that can be kept discreet would be better preps IMHO.

  9. Victoria S,
    I don’t know a lot about the Thompson Center Dimension interchangeable rifle; however, I’ve had the Thompson Center Contender interchangeable barrel single shot handgun for about 15 years, and I love it. The scoped.357 magnum is the configuration I use to hunt deer, and with everything from a .22 RF to a .223 (for varmints), it is a hoot to shoot.

  10. Prepping Preacher says:

    this past weekend my wife and I participated in a pro gun rally in Augusta, Maine then spent a few hours at the annual gun show at the Civic Center, same city… prices terribly inflated for everything… i priced a mag for my .45 and the sellers response was, ” i gotta get $50 for that”… “i gotta get…” ????? really..?? i’m certain he didn’t order it speceifically for the show and was willing to over pay for it… sorry, but i think all the fear mongering over our 2nd Amendment has stirred what i call, “the law of supply and greed” as opposed to supply and demand… and it is gun/accessory industry wide… before anyone starts vilifying me, i am all for capitalism and free market but i am adamantly opposed to “need-based theft”(something banks are notorious for)… i consequently passed on everything i might have purchased… if more would do that instead of going the fear-induced knee-jerk reaction route, prices would not have been jacked so high… please, don’t start crying about “what if ….” because as arrogant and ignorant the kenyan is, even he couldn’t pull off a complete ban and confiscation move without sparking a civil war and he knows it… people need to calm down and take a breath..

    on a lighter note, MD, you have a great site.. i visit nearly everyday…

  11. Gary the Gun Nut says:

    Ma dear fellow Gun Nutters™. Always remember wat our good friends at the NRA sez: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. The truth o’ this is so plane fer ‘nyone but a friggin’ scaredycat libtard ta see, tha it’s almost too painful fer me ta hav ta ‘splain it all o’er ‘gin (but I will): It’s the bullets, not the guns, tha kill people (but let’s not argue here over a technicality). And believe it or not, lots o’ people out there can kill with their own bare hands! So jus’ ask all yer friggin’ libtard friends (if’n y’all got any, that is), “Wat’s next? Y’all goin’ ta ban hands now, too?” And ‘member, ‘n ‘dition ta tellin’ us that we done got the right ta keep our arms beared at all times, our good friends at the US Supreme Court also done told us tha “corporations are people“. Therefore, the only logical ‘clusion I can draw frum this here last statement takin’ ‘gether with tha o’ our friends at the NRA is tha gun manufacturers, which’n ‘re corporations ‘n therefore people, kill people…er…um…wat I really mean ta say here is: “They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers”! (Well, actually ma fingers’ll prolly still be warm as it does take a wile fer a freshly kill’d body ta cool down ta room temp, ya know, but I’m sure y’all git my drift here.) Anyways, them’s there ma thoughts fer the day. Cheers!

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      Gary the Gun,
      It really doesn’t have anything to do with guns. When anything goes, when parents don’t parent, when God isn’t present, when children aren’t required to work around the house, when children aren’t taught to be respectable and respectful, when children don’t appreciate what they have or take care of their belongings. WHEN PARENTS DO NOT PARENT. Just buy your kid an XBox and games and banish him/her to their room. Now that’s the problem. Not bullets, not guns, not hands.

      • Agreed,
        My children have been banished to the garden where we will attempt as a family to grow actual vegetables, just like the ones in the grocery store. We are also in archery training. DD is reading DS stories from the Bible and both are learning about cardinal directions and maps. It is sooo hard to get them away from a screen, but once done they forget about “that other life” in no time.

  12. I am so very relieved that we bought everything when we did. I have been buying ammo ever week while buying groceries for more than a few years. I do not feel like I need to to buy anything at the higher prices, though my hand reaches out for it.
    I only wish I had the foresight to buy extra to sell at a gun show like this and raise funds for our solar project! Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t be able to let go of any of it.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  13. Came across this link this morning. Tells you where to find the ammo you are wanting and what the price is.


  14. Yep, going to be interesting to see what the peoples republic if illinois is going to do. Ive written like 16 emails to all our “representatives” in springfield. Just hoping its nothing like new york. Im a lot more worried about this state politics than I am the federal stuff…..

  15. Deep behind Imperial lines here, .22LR is nearly impossible to find. I have a goodly stock, but nothing lasts forever. I have a conundrum regarding my current battery. Without going into specifics, pretty much everything I own is what NYS wants me to register or limit magazine size. Barring a successful legal challenge, which isn’t very likely, I’ll have a year to either register my rifles and dispose of my 10 rounders or get rid of them.
    Long before this, I was seriously thinking of simplifying everything by going the revolver/lever action route in .357. No worries about buying/carrying mags, one less caliber to stock up on, and reloading a rimmed, straight-wall cartridge is much easier and safer, as well as giving me the option of using BP if needed. Also, while I think that plastic’s fantastic, my current headliner weighs in at 11 pounds with a scope & 10 rounder. Based on my current and achievable fitness levels, I could practicably carry 10 lbs combined weapon weight (rifle & pistol) plus five for ammo, on top of the essential load-out needed for an extended stroll. Anybody have words of wisdom for me?
    Another (tempting) consideration is the ridiculous prices sellers are asking and getting for AR and AK pattern rifles now. An extra couple grand can go a long way for me right now. I’d hate to resort to a coin-toss on something like this.

    • Hi Point carbine in 9mm or .40. It just works.

      • Had one in 9mm. It was tough,accurate and reliable, but a little too beefy for the caliber. Over built is good, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve always been partial to lightweight rifles, probably from hunting in the Wasatch when I was a teen. I just don’t like having to carry a lot of gear with me anymore.

        • Good luck finding one anywhere. They’re made just an hour or so from me and are still virtually impossible to get. One local gun dealer said that a Unicorn might be easier to find.

    • riverrider says:

      rick, well first suggestion is ..move. barring that….fight, you got a year. third, sell out and buy the lever gun and a seven or eight shot revolver in the same caliber(yes they make 7/8 shots these days). the lever gun is expensive right now too but going to go higher. fourth, if you have an extra ar, bury it. the revolt is building steam but it might be a few years yet. like 1850, it was the tipping point, just took a few years for everybody to get their toys together and choose up sides. i’d bet ny will be on the wrong one this go ’round, unless the rural folk get together n seceed from the state like we did. si vi pacem, para bellum

      • Rick & RR:

        My GHB guns are 357 revolver and a 16″ Trapper style 1892 Rossi. I do not feel under gunned. With the purpose of getting home, not a fight, they are perfect against groups of humans or dogs from 4-8. Dogs are actually tougher. A group of 8 humans, after getting 3-4 shot usually remember they had somewhere else to be. Dogs, not so much.

        I love my semis, and regret having to have sold most over the last year to pay for dental work (and now the car). Ammo is easy to still get, going from 38 S&W Long through 38 SPecial, 38 Spec +P, to 357 Magnum and finally to my new 180gr Bear Loads for the Trapper, I am happy with the defense/hunting aspects of this combo.

        The other plus is that at the old prices I got both used for the cost of the cheapest AR @ Wal-Mart. I spend no dollars on magazines, and I don’t go through ammo as fast. They are both VERY durable and reliable.

      • RR & Rick,
        Before buying that 8 shot revolver you need to check the actual wording of the law. A cylinder is “technically” a magazine, and depending on the legal definition, an 8 chamber cylinder may violate the law.

        • I was actually thinking a .357 Charter Arms Tracker 4″. I owned a 6″ Pathfinder back in the ’80s, and deeply regret getting rid of it. 5 shots works for me, as the boxes empty uniformly (yeah, OCD, I know). Plus, if I have to carry it, that smaller cylinder is a big plus. I figure that and a couple of speedloaders should do me just fine.

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