Everyone’s all like- “Hmmmm, yes. Quite so. Pistols. Indubitably!”
Have you ever been to a gun show and seen the same characters over and over again? The past six months I’ve been working as a vendor, and I’ve grown quite acquainted to seeing the same archetypes come through the tables each and every time. It’s odd, it’s a feeling of deja-vu when you see the same hat and jacket, the same personality, the same gun on a man’s hip but with a different face. In this article I will outline the FIVE main stereotypes I’ve run into at gun shows while dealing tactical nylon for my company. This is just the tip of the iceberg, because there’s a lot more than just five, but for the sake of expedience we’ll stick to the main ones.
The Deermaster- The Deermaster, or “Bubba” for short, is that same guy who’s always brought all five of his kids to the show to find their next animal killing machine. He, his two sons, two daughters, and that random kid who’s not even related to him always wear a complimentary mixture of Mossy Oak, Realtree, Neon Orange, and rain boots even when it’s not raining. He’ll turn his nose up to any expensive tactical gear he sees, and when he catches his little boy saying “Whoa…” and fondling one of our mannequin’s tacced-out Daniel Defense Mk18s he’ll adopt an annoyed tone and quickly push his clan of children along to go look at the shotgun section nearby. He doesn’t subscribe to the tactical shooter world, thinking of everyone with expensive gear as “mall ninjas”. Interestingly enough though he tends to think of himself as an uber competent member of the prepper community. He’ll always be the first guy to say “I’ll take care of my own when the shit hits the fan, all I need is my bolt gun and my shotgun and I’ll take out anyone who comes in my woods! Weeew!”
“All I need is this here shotgun and my back 40 and I’ll survive anything!”
The Possible Future Active Shooter- This guy reeks of sketchiness everywhere he goes. He’s dressed in some archaic mixture of camouflage, normally from foreign countries. He has a look of confusion and borderline fear on his face. He is normally uncouth, anti social, and malnourished. He has a polymer lower AR-15 or Mosin Nagant strapped to his back and a dropleg on his leg carrying some cheap pistol like a hi-point. He flits from gun to gun picking it up and aiming it at the ceiling and simulating the recoil as he fires at dozens of indistinguishable targets, and you often wonder who he’s imagining shooting. When he comes to my booth he immediately goes up to our tactical vests and asks in hushed tones “Does it come with plates?” to which I respond in a friendly manner “No, it just comes with what you see”. I give the man no indication of the fact that we do sell plates separately, because I kind of suspect I’m going to see this man’s face on the news some day and I don’t want to be that guy who indiscriminately sold him his gear. He awkwardly retreats from my table and starts fondling the cheap Russian surplus table’s wares.
Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris fit the profile perfectly. Skinny little twerps that look like they obviously should not have guns.
The Good Ole Boy- This guy is at every gun show within a three state radius. He’s always got a new piece of gear hanging from his back with a “For Sale” sign taped to it. He looks like he may have been in some remote Special Forces unit in Grenada in the early 80’s and that’s how he likes it. He’s mysterious and quiet, but yet always alludes to being “in the know” about what gear is worth a shit and what prices everything should be set at. He too thumbs his nose at the expensive tactical vests and harkens back to the day when everything was attached with ALICE clips. He always has a buddy who’s nearly identical to him wondering about the show who comes up and notifies him quietly of something he needs to go look at from the flank. Like a wolf pack him and his buddy proceed to pull a flanking maneuver on the table in mind, which is more often than not the same Russian surplus table the Possible Future Active Shooter went to.
“Yall don’t know what I been through…but by the end of the day you damn sure will!”
The Undercover Cop- This guy comes in a few forms, but no matter how well he tries to hide it his coppyness is undeniable. He is clean cut, wears business casual attire with a bulge where his issued full sized pistol is holstered under his shirt, which is either a button up or a polo. He sees the nice tactical nylon and often can’t help but reveal that he’s a cop, as if it weren’t totally obvious by his haircut and clothing options. He then takes our card and makes tentative verbal plans to have us custom build a dozen or so of our vests for his local team. He asks questions like “Do you guys sell plates too?” and when we say we can get them for him he says nothing, but raises an eyebrow and walks along quietly. He never calls back to order those vests.
“No one would ever suspect that I have a badge and a gun hidden under this spiffy concealment polo, right?”
The Dude That’s Totally Special Forces- This guy always comes with a team. He’s often either jacked and stands over six feet tall, or somewhat short with a beer gut. He has a beard that looks like some Taliban Mullah’s and a quiet but deadly confidant demeanor. He picks up the most random survival items on our table, like our Manta strobes or our fire starters, and says “I need one of these. Remember when I lost mine?” to his buddy, who is also deadly quiet. His demeanor is always friendly but you can’t help but feel like he’s hiding something. Like the undercover cop, he’s often in a polo shirt as well, or a random Bar and Grill or Crabshack shirt that’s from a restaurant a minimum of two thousand miles away from his current location. The short, old beer gut guy next to him is always the team leader, and the one who speaks the least. He picks up some small items and shows it to his buddies with a smile on his face, they smile back and you can’t help but feel you’re under the cold judgmental radar of a seriously dedicated warfighter. When he checks out the tactical nylon he’s actually pretty impressed as he surveys the minute little details like the positioning of the stitching and the material. He anonymously calls the company weeks later and orders a few thousand dollars worth of vests as if they cost nothing. He is my favorite customer.
“When I get home I’m going totally undercover man. No one’s ever gonna know I’m military if I keep my Joe’s Crab Shack shirt on.”
Gun shows are a great way to look into the tactical industry and see who it most appeals to. There’s a ton of different characters that you will run into, not limited to the simple five that I have outlined. These are just some of the more common characters I run into but there’s really a host of different folks from all sorts of backgrounds who come through and that’s what’s best about it. The tactical community is not limited to any one type of person and that’s a beautiful thing! Gun shows are also the best way to find good gear for cheap, they are the go-to places to find everything under the sun that you would want to fill your needs. Whether it be full blown machine guns all the way down to cheesy Dads Against Daughters Dating tee shirts and cheap Chinese made knives, you’ll find your fix. Next time you’re at the gun show pay attention to some of the typical characters there, and let us know if you saw any of ours!
“Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum”- Tommy