Don't Overlook the Gun Shows

Mike Carter

Well-Known Member
I have definitely seen a shift in the shows that knifemakers, knife dealers and knife buyers are attending in recent years.

Once upon a time there weren’t nearly as many knifemakers around and there were very few knife shows. If a knifemaker wanted to show and sell his work to the public, the gun shows were often the only venue available. Later, as more knifemakers and collectors came on the scene more and more knife-only shows began cropping up all over the country and most knifemakers and dealers seemed to prefer the exclusively knife shows. The guns show began earning a reputation of only having cheap imported knives for sale.

As time went by, the number of available shows, the Internet and the cost of travel began to change things. People no longer had to travel across the country to attend one of the few annual shows. Now it seems like there is a show every month in everyone’s neighborhood. Largely due to the slumping economy and the cost of traveling, many knifemakers and buyers are sticking to the less expensive and more convenient local shows.

The traditionally “big” shows in New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas have seen a very sharp decline in attendance in recent years. At the same time, I am seeing more good custom knifemakers and dealers returning to the Gun and Knife Shows and the buyers are following them.

Of course there are still some very successful high-end shows with big-name knifemakers and shows like the Knifemakers Guild Show are doing very well. The Blade Show in Atlanta is still drawing big crowds although there has been a noticeable decline in attendance the last couple of years. But my point is to not overlook the local gun shows as another venue to find some great knives.

Here in my area in Kentucky, we have at least three promoters who put on some huge shows several times each year. These range from 250 tables to over 3000 tables of guns, knives, and all kinds of related accessories. At most of the shows I attend there are usually a dozen or so custom knifemakers and several dealers of all types of knives and that trend is growing. For me, it’s a no-brainer to do these shows. They are local so my only expense is a $60-$100 table to get my work in front of thousands of potential customers. The enormous Tulsa Arms Show boasts 4000 tables and hundreds of thousands of visitors twice each year. Compare that to $400-$700 for a table at a big knife show plus another $1000 in travel expenses for a lot less people looking at your work.

The times, they are a changing. The Internet is a wonderful tool for a knifemaker to show his work to the world. But viewing pictures on the computer screen is nothing like holding a knife in your hand and talking face to face with the craftsman who made it. Check out your local gun show the next time it comes around. You might be surprised at what you find there.

Cliff Fendley

Well-Known Member
I agree 100%. I can do four local gun shows for the table price of Blade show and not have the travel expense. At the same time am as likely to sell as much at each of those shows as I am at Blade. Keep in mind when a gun show customer sees a knife they've just got to have or order one similar, a 3 or 4 hundred dollar knife is not much compared to what he is likely to be spending on guns and ammo.

Plus we are seeing the change over to customs for some people, they see you at the shows and fondle the knives until one day they buy one. Most likely the first custom will be something fairly simple which is why I've been trying to keep several of those on hand for the gun shows. Once they have their hands on a custom and use it they realize the difference between it and the 49 dollar factory knife and next thing you know they are ordering something a little more fancy and the obsession has begun.


I have to agree guys,when I can get some stock up I love doing the local gun show. $75 table for the weekend,can sleep in my own bed at night, eat at home except for the the lunch which I bring, and a 20 minute drive. I have done very well, met some high end customers,one of which accounted for about 20 knives and a half a dozen holsters.This year I plan on making some extra knives and hitting the gun shows again.It's fun to do between orders.Dave

Carey Quinn

Thanks for the heads up guys. There are a few shows around my area each year. Sounds like I need to get off my backside and get up enough knives to get a table.



Gold Membership
i find alot of great deals at local gun shows.
since here guys,what does stock removal mean
when talking about knifemaking?