animated cartoon showing gun show and gun show checklist concept

Gun Show Checklist: What to Expect and How to Prepare

So, you’re itching to hit the gun show circuit?Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a curious first-timer, a little preparation can go a long way.  Fear not, fellow firearms enthusiasts –  this gun show checklist will have you navigating the aisles with confidence and maximizing your experience.

Before the Show Begins

Preparation is key! First things first, find out when and where the gun show is happening. Local gun clubs, websites, and event calendars are all excellent resources. Once you have the details,  gun show checklist item number one is to research the show itself.

  • What vendors will be there? Many shows have vendor lists online, so you can see if there are specific brands or types of firearms you’re interested in.
  • What are the show hours? Plan your trip accordingly, especially if you have a long drive or specific vendors you want to see.
  • Are there any fees? Be sure to bring cash or card since some shows charge admission.


people in a gun show
Gun Show Checklist What to Expect and How to Prepare

Know Your Limits

Next up on the gun show checklist is familiarizing yourself with the legal landscape. Gun laws vary by state, so make sure you understand the buying and selling regulations that apply to you.  Research background check requirements, permitting processes, and any restrictions on specific types of firearms.

Now, let’s talk finances. Gun shows can be a treasure trove of finds, but it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement.  Gun show checklist tip number two: set a budget and stick to it!  Decide how much you’re comfortable spending beforehand and don’t be afraid to walk away if a deal seems too good to be true.

Gear Up for the Show: What to Bring

Alright, it’s showtime! But before you head out the door, let’s make sure you have everything you need. Here’s what your gun show checklist should include:


  • Identification: You’ll likely need a valid government-issued ID to enter the show and potentially to complete any purchases.
  • Cash: While some vendors may accept credit cards, cash is still king at many gun shows.
  • Eye and ear protection: This is a safety must-have, especially if you plan on handling any firearms.
  • Comfortable shoes: Gun shows can be sprawling affairs, so be prepared to do some walking.

Be Prepared to Ask Questions

Now you’re at the show! The sheer volume of options can be overwhelming, but that’s where your gun show checklist comes in handy.  Focus on the vendors you researched beforehand and prioritize browsing their wares.

Gun show checklist tip number three: Don’t be afraid to ask questions!  Vendors are there to help, and many are passionate firearms enthusiasts themselves.

Inspecting Firearms Safely

If you find a firearm that piques your interest, it’s time for a closer look.  Always ask the vendor’s permission before handling a gun.  Gun show checklist point number four:  Maintain proper gun safety at all times.  Double-check that the firearm is unloaded, keep your finger off the trigger, and point it in a safe direction.

Taking the Plunge: Making a Purchase Decision

So, you’ve found the perfect firearm (or maybe a great deal on ammo or accessories). Before you pull out your wallet, here are some final gun show checklist considerations:

Compare prices

Don’t be afraid to shop around before making a purchase. There can be significant price variations between vendors for the same firearm.

After the Show

Congratulations, you’ve made a purchase! Now, let’s talk about responsible gun ownership. Gun show checklist item number six:  Transport your new firearm safely and securely, following all local laws and regulations.


Finally, at home,  properly store your firearm unloaded and locked up, following all safety protocols.  Also, take some time to familiarize yourself with your new acquisition – read the manual, practice safe handling procedures, and consider taking a firearms safety course.

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