Tagged for Sale using a recycled target for the tag. This is not the gun I sold, because I didn’t think to grab a picture until it was already gone.

Yet another of my gun mentors offered to walk the Dixie Gun and Knife Show with me this past weekend (November 17, 18 2012). He explained that to sell a gun you basically tagged it with a “For Sale” sign and walked the show. He said people would just walk up to you and make offers.You could also ask dealers for bids. I had a Marlin 336 in 35 Remington that I’d decided to sell. I was in no rush but this might be my opportunity to make that happen. If not it would help me to understand what it was worth.

The last time I walked a gun show alone I was pretty overwhelmed. This friend was ex-military and had been around guns most of his life. This was an environment and culture he knew well. I made a list of things I was interested in looking at and I looked up prices online so I would know a good price when I was shopping. What I neglected to do was look up a price for the gun I wanted to sell.

We headed over Saturday around 9am when the show was supposed to open. We drove through the fairgrounds and aborted the trip. The line to get into the gun show was at least a 1/4 mile long and 3 abreast. My best guess was a 1-2 hour wait to get in the door and neither of us needed anything that bad.

Plan B was to try Sunday morning around 10:30am. That worked out much better! The line to buy tickets was about a 20 person wait. There was no line to get the rifle declared unloaded and zip tied shut for entry into the show. I didn’t even get in the building before I got my first offer: $175. I told the fellow that I had no clue what it was worth and I was going to check in with a few dealers before deciding to sell. I’m really glad I did.

Having a rifle propped up on your shoulder with a “For Sale” tag dangling from it meant stopping a lot to talk to people. My escort is very personable and engaged prospective buyers. Most conversations went like this, “My Dad gave me the gun but I had no idea what it’s worth and I’m going to find a dealer with a book to check the value. How much would you offer?” Bids seemed to rise as we got closer to the dealer tables: $200, $225, $275… This is not a good approach for the introverted, as we got plenty of interaction with strangers.

My friend guided me to a dealer table run by an business acquaintance and asked if they could check the “book”. He pointed out the entry, let me read it, and gave me a bit of feedback on the condition. Now I knew what was reasonable. I didn’t need to get top dollar but I also didn’t want to give it away.

I went back to the dealer who’d offered $300 and asked if he’d also make me an offer on the partial box of ammo I had. He did. I took a walk back to the car to retrieve the ammo while the dealer filled out a receipt. I unloaded the rifle and picked up $315.

I was very happy with how simple this was but learned to do my homework before  starting this process. Although I know it’s a good strategy to have the buyer open with a price that does me no good if I don’t have a feel for the value of the item.

I also picked up two boxes of .223 Remington at the show. I have plans for more long rifle range time in the near future and the fellow I’ll be shooting with this time is bringing an AR-15. I want to arrive with my own ammunition if he’s generous enough to let me shoot it.

Other observations:
This gun show was the first after Obama’s election for his second term in office. I thought the long line the day before was folks looking to buy magazines they feel will soon become illegal. We asked several vendors if sales were up. The response: “Most people are just looking, sales are not really up. The thing that is different about this show is that fewer people are selling.”


35 what?

When I’d been shooting for 6 months or so my father told me he had 3 rifles in a gun cabinet that hadn’t been touched in 20+ years. Since I was the only one in the family that was shooting, they were mine. So I found myself with a Browning .22, a Winchester .22 and a Marlin 336 in 35 Remington. I read that again… 35 ??? Never heard of that.

I made plans to meet a friend who would walk me though loading and firing each rifle at the county range on a very hot day last August (2012). I hauled them in one at a time. The range has a rule against “naked” guns, so one was in a very old case that I found in the bottom of the gun cabinet. I think it was “pleather” or PVC. The next was in a case that was too short for the rifle but the trigger was covered, so it looked odd but was considered safe. The 3rd I hauled in wrapped in an old Army blanket after checking to be sure they were ok with that. Covered is covered, and thought not elegant, it was acceptable.

I wanted someone to take a look and tell me if they were safe to shoot, try them out, them decide whether to keep them or sell them. The range is indoors but has no heat or A/C so at noon in August, it was over 90 degrees and it was pretty deserted. That was good for me as the Range Safety Officers (RSOs) were not very busy. One of the gentlemen used a metal rod down each gun to check for any blockage and declared each safe to shoot. Then I had them look at the 35 Remington ammo and decide if that was safe to shoot. I had one box with 19 shells. That was given the thumbs up too. Worst case, it just wouldn’t fire.

My friend met me there and brought his Marlin chambered in .38 Special. I brought my 3 gifts and we skipped shooting pistols that afternoon. The Marlin in .38 Special was a joy to shoot. Virtually no kick compared to my snub nosed pistol chambered in the same caliber. I liked the lever action and (of course) it was much more accurate than my pistol.

I got a few tips on shooting rifles: “bring the gun up to your eye, don’t bring your eye down to the gun.” And we shot about a 100 rounds through each of the .22 rifles. One looked too scary to shoot, but once loaded, performed just fine. I’ll define scary: a dented stock that had turned mostly black and had a bit of mildew with a barrel that was rusted and pitted.

From the Marlin website: Marlin 336 in 35 Remington

The beast of the group was the 35 Remington. One of the regular shooters told me it was for elephant hunting (it’s not…) and would knock me flat. I, of course, responded, “Load her up.”

The fellow that tossed out the challenge, Bill, actually volunteered to take the first shot. I was willing to let him if his wife consented. She’s a deadly shot, she’s at the range every day it’s open, and she lent me several .22s when I was picking my first pistol to purchase. I really did not want her mad at me if something went wrong. And nothing did.

We only put 3 shots through her. Bill took one, I took one, and my friend with the Marlin .38 took one. Oddly I was closest to the center of the target we used. That made me smile.

Soon after I checked out the price of ammunition and found it ran about $1.25 a round. In contrast I can find 9mm Luger for 25 cents a round. The place I usually buy ammo didn’t  carry 35 Remington but you could order it online. I asked my Dad what he used the gun for and he said “bear hunting”. I really don’t remember my dad doing much hunting when I was little so my best guess is that this gun saw the woods once or twice. More digging turned up [this video] and other digging said this gun was good for hunting anything in the lower 48 states. I has a lot of knock down power.

But: I don’t hunt, at least not yet. And it’s in an odd caliber that is hard to find and is expensive. So, I decided to sell it and use the cash toward my pistol purchases. That was about 3 months ago.

Next post: Sold!