The Nation's Gun Show in Chantilly, Virginia

by Colin Riley - January 1, 2013

Held, the weekend of December 28-30, 2012 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia, I went to the Nation's Gun Show on Sunday, December 30th. The Nation's Gun Show of course, is the biggest gun show held in the Northern Virginia area and they charge a rather stiff entry fee of 12 dollars. In recent years, I haven't attended many of these events as the prices asked for goods in these venues lately have been far higher than I have been willing to pay. Often it just seems a wasted effort to come.

The show seems to be held about every 6 weeks now. With that degree of frequency, you would think that attendance would drop off at some point. So far that has not proven to be the case.

That being said, a friend of mine wanted some advice on buying reloading components, and I was frankly curious to see what effect Obama's reelection and the Sandy Hook Tragedy had on prices.

Looking at postings on the web forums the night before, by all accounts, attendance at the show on Friday was some kind of record with lines stretching into the strip mall next door with vendors doing a brisk business.

Arriving in the early afternoon on Sunday, there were a fair number of people there but I had no problem finding a parking space. Oddly enough the first thing that attracted my attention was not the Gun Show but the building next door. While the gun show business might be booming, the tradeshow business in general must not be doing so well. One of the two exposition halls comprising the Dulles Expo Center has been turned into a Super Walmart. According to a store manager that I spoke to, they opened there last March.

After having provisioned myself with some half price clearance Christmas candy from Walmart, I went to buy my ticket. There was a little bit of a line but it moved quickly.

Reports on some of the forums said that there had been a small group of protesters numbering less than a dozen who made an appearance on Friday and Saturday. They were no shows on Sunday. In fact, things actually seemed pretty sedate. Inside there was a decent crowd but it was pretty easy to move from table to table.

After Barack Obama's first election, I heard tales of frantic people with hand trucks buying up what ammunition they could. I guess that they must have all come on Friday, as I did not observe any major buying.

In fact there did not seem to be much of a shortage of ammunition, high capacity magazines or black rifles. Some vendors even had pallets of ammunition on the floor. Needless to say there were no bargains. Prices at the show had been hiked to levels that I have never seen before.

5.56 mm NATO FMJ was selling for 15 dollars or more per box of 20 cartridges. 10 years ago, 5 dollars a box would have been considered a somewhat high price for this ammo.

I saw a number of people wandering the aisles that I knew and the primary topic of conversation were the high prices of arms and ammunition. Unfortunately, like the weather, you can talk about it but there is not much you can do about it.

My friend did buy a couple pounds of powder and some primers and I purchased a pound of Alliant 2400 for my cast bullet loads but that was it for us.

It was obvious to me that not every vendor has benefited from this run on guns. At many tables, I could see tray after tray of well rubbed boxes of catridges and other merchandise that has been moved from show to show without selling for the asking price. I often wonder if any of these smaller dealers ever bother to calculate their annnual inventory turnover or perhaps consider the cost of carrying these goods from year to year.

Present too, were a number of individuals walking around the place with for sale signs attached to their black rifles and AK variants, no doubt hoping to capitalize on their "investment's" recent increase in perceived value. It is hard to say how they fared but their pricing seemed somewhat optimistic to me.

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