Gun Show Quality?

Apr 18, 1999
Is there any reason to believe the quality of products offered for sale at gun/knife shows is inferior to that offered at retail outlets? The prices seem too good to be true. Are the products used or seconds?
The products should be the same. I sold at Gun Shows for about 4 years and I always had new stuff and no seconds. They can sell for less simply because they have no or very little overhead. The same can be said for most discount internet dealers.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

At most gunshows, the dealers have the same goods that any other dealer or retail outlet would get. Sometimes, people are more willing to deal at the show when compared to their store location. Some dealers will also offer reduced prices on some stock that they've had for a while, just to move it out. At a show, they get a greater amount of customer traffic, so they sometimes go for a smaller profit just to get the sale. Some products may have been demo models that have just been handled by other human hands and show a bit of wear, but never used. You have to know your prices as a consumer, by doing your homework, because some dealer's prices are actually more expensive than what you can find at a retail outlet!
there is another factor that is signifficant. the dealer at the show have
quite a lot of stock to deliver to the show.
and selling the items at the show saves them
money for the freight back.
and they don't have to worry about minor
scraches that the knives got from handeling
them at the show so they can't sell them to
dealers anymore.
I noticed when I was doing gun shows that the guys at the table were more likely to sell at a lower price on Sunday. I always assumed they needed motel and gas money.
I go to every gun show in town, and have to shake my head at some of the stuff they sell. Of course, I immediately look for the Spydies, and sometimes inform the seller, "did you know these are seconds, and not covered under warranty?" One lady got real nasty with me and told me to leave her table.

Have also had the same happen after whacking a few knives against the spine and laffed when they folded up. Sellers dont like that, for some reason.. Hmmm, go figure.


Seconds? I haven't been around all that long, but I didn't think that Spyderco had seconds, much less sold them. How would those folks get seconds? My concern is how to tell seconds from the real stuff. Any tell-tale signs?

Is that thing shar...OW!
I'm glad to see this thread as I am headed out to the Great Western Show in Pomona this weekend to buy a Nimravus. Most of the previous comments in this thread seem to suggest that the products sold at gun/knife shows are new and 'first quality'.

However, I do NOT want to buy a demo and obviously not a 'second' quality item.

This has been a concern of mine whenever purchasing outside 'official' dealer channels (shows, Internet). Any manufacturering process will produce some pieces that are in some way 'out of whack'. Do these 'seconds' ever get out of the factory? I'd figure that a gun/knife show would be a perfect location to unload them.

Finally, what should I look for to identify either a demo or a 'second'?


I've been buying mostly at gun shows for the past year or so. I always check several identical models. Sometimes I find flaws, like blade looseness, sloppy lockup, etc. If you know the MSRP and what to look for, you probably won't get stuck with a lemon. Also, check around every knife table before you buy a particular knife. I've bought a knife, then found one just as good at another table for $10 less. >

I laughed when I read your post!
I guess the lady didn't realize you work at Spyderco! It must have been funny to see the dealers' faces when you were "spine whacking" their knives!
I never tell them where I work right off the bat...if it comes up later, fine. If not, also fine.

Seconds are sold at "seconds sales" here and there. The ones marked by Spyderco have a distinctive "nick" out of the blade at the top, near the hole.


WOW learn something new everyday. Never new Spyderco had seconds. What would make a second and where would you draw the line to even put your name on it? How does one obtain them? Neve seen them so just curious.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

One comment-
I do not believe in abusing someone elses property. Even if it is a second, a third, a fourth, etc.......... I think you get my point.
One comment-
I do not believe in abusing someone elses property. Even if it is a second, a third, a fourth, etc.......... I think you get my point.
I couple of thought touching on things mentioned above.

Know who you are dealing with! There are dealers who have been around long enough that you recoginize their faces or, your friends do! These are the guys that will talk straight with you. You may not get the absolute lowest price at the gun show from them but, you don't have to worry about getting taken.

Remember, at a gun show you are generally a small fish in a large pond. If you don't know what something should cost, how it should look, how it should feel, you are suscpetable to scams from the less reputable fly by night rip off artists posing as gun show dealers.

I find it really isn't necessary to spine whack or other wise seriously (or is that abuse?) a dealers knife. A first quality knife from a known manufacturer will take it, a second or cheap import can be easily spotted so why waste your time destroying somebody's piece of junk? Does the blade wobble, does the liner meet the blade properly, etc. can be easily done with a visual inspection.

When you walk up to someone's table, look it all over? Would you buy a Sebenza from someone who had 80% of their table loaded with cheap imports? Generally, you are going to find a dealer either carries good production stuff (i.e. Spyderco, Benchmade, etc) and high end (CRK, Mission, etc.) or they will carry a ton of the cheap stuff with some of the better production pieces. If something looks like it doesn't belong on the table or doesn't fit the overall image of the table, walk on or be very wary and take your chances.

Finally, you will find many fantastic people at the gun shows who are selling their wares to supplement their main job and are not out to scalp anyone. They just want to have a little fun on the weekend and make a little money for their efforts. Patronizing these people will you real happy. As for the other elements who are your classical hucksters looking for a quick easy buck, steer clear!

Knife dealer, FFL gun dealer and, gun show patron since I was a child.

Sid Post
I am a dealer for and stock:
Mission Knives & Tools, Inc.,
Tactical OPS USA from Idaho Falls, ID,
Chris Reeve Knives,
the Krill Lamp from Kriana Corp.,
Underwater Kinetics flashlights and,
Streamlight Flashlights,
with other fine products being added as they are found and time allows
Spine whacking is abuse?
I'm not talking about whacking a "piece of junk" to quote Sid. If I'm going to spend money I worked hard for on something for my collection, I'm not going to hand my money over blindly. I dont whack them to be annoying or to make anybody look bad. I test them to make sure they're not screwing me out of my cash.

Guess what? I test drive cars before I buy em, too.

I don't find it unreasonable to give a knife a good solid whack to see if the lock folds. As Danelle said, it's my money. Hell, they're my fingers.

That said, I would not do it on a surface that would scuff the finish (if applicable)...but other than that...if they have trouble with it, I'll walk my loot to the next shop. Pound salt.

ALSO: I would only do that test at the point where I was seriously considering buying the knife. I passes? I buy, or at least put it on a short list of contenders. It fails? Point out the problem to the dealer and walk away. Only fair.

Hey, you 'abuse' cars when you test drive them?
I know I would...
you should see what i do to rental cars...

Hey! Uncle Sam!

(_!_) Nyah nyah nyah!

Refund! You lose! :)

My apologies if my post above comes across harsh. The posts above can interpretted more then one way and perhaps, I read something that was not intended by the author. I have seen people legitimately devalue a dealer's property with no intention of purchasing it so, perhaps I have a biased point of view. This bothers me whether the loss is mine or someone else's.

You can test a knife without hurting its value within limits. Whacking a $10 liner lock you know will fail proves little. Are you really surprised you can seperate a hollow handle knife from its blade with hand pressure when the whole thing costs <$20? Whacking a good knife in such away as to prove to yourself it is not defective can be done such that it is not devalued unless it fails, it which case it will go back to the manufacturer anyway so, no harm. The choice of devalueing a dealer's merchandise is yours.

Considering the knowledge and background shown by most forum'ites, I think the vast majority can spot a defective knife and would recoginize a quality knife before they ever got to the point feeling a need to physically test it. Now, if you feel the need to try to bend a CRK One Piece with your bare hands, go for it - you will not hurt that knife. All the folders I carry will take a good whack or any other test within reason but, please use a little descretion and only seriously test the knife you are really interested in.

My grandparents are dealers and only sell at the shows, and out of their home. All of their stuff is brand spankin' new. They \, on average, only make about $5 - $6 per knife. The real money is made off of the "cheapos" where they can pay $5 per knife and sell it for $25. The tables alone cost $40. Somehow though, they do pretty darn good.

As far as rental cars go...the "cops" and I were chasin a punk who tried to break into my 98 Taurus rental car one night about 3 weeks ago. Well, their was a HUGE "hump" in the road and I was doin about 60 in a 10. Well...I jumped the hump and bottomed out BIG TIME. I busted the radiator, the review mirror, and the whole front end. Amazingly enough, they never saw a problem with it. hahaha...-AR

- Intelligent men, unfortunately, learn from fools, more often than fools learn from intelligent men.