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The Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016

The Las Vegas Antique Arms show has been the worlds premier arms show since long before I started in this business, the inaugural show was in 1962 making 2016 the 54th year of the event. I think having just spent 3 days exhibiting at the show my overriding question has to be where are the buyers and collectors of the future?! Certainly the foot fall  decreases year on year whilst the walking sticks and motor cart congestion increase! Youth is not to be seen.

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (2 of 11)

This has always been a show for like minded people, collectors and enthusiasts alike who enjoy walking the aisles looking perhaps for a bargain or something that they need to round off the collection. It is a time for long conversations between collectors and dealers of various specialty markets, Colts or Winchesters, percussion guns and modern guns there is always something here for everyone and a huge amount of firearms knowledge to tap into, here you will find experts on every type of firearm. But alas the numbers of people attending is in decline and it was obvious this year, I don't know if it was a 'one off' but feel it is not, the youth of today just don't have the passion for vintage guns as much as those in the past. On Friday I believe the attendance was in the region of 1200 visitors and I am sure in the heydays of the show at the Sahara Hotel there would have been 4 or 5000 visitors.

Westley Richards has for some years now been the only English gunmaker to exhibit at this show and we have done so pretty much every year for about 40 of the years it has been going. In the early days when my father attended we sold only antiques, items which we had got in India and which were always fresh to market at this show. They always generated a huge amount of interest. When I started attending in 1988 we started a blend of old guns and new guns and now I primarily show our new guns, it being an opportunity for people to see in the flesh exactly what we make. I think I can comfortably say that 30% of our new gun sales during my years at Westley Richards have come from people I have met at this show, people who like guns have always made an effort to attend. I certainly hope that it continues, there is no other gun show quite like it.

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (3 of 11)

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (4 of 11)

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (5 of 11)

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (6 of 11) Lewis Drake always has some of the finest vintage firearms in the show.

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (7 of 11) Steve Fjastad the author of the Blue Book of Gun Values.

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (9 of 11) Larry Blunk with LD McCaa of Gulbreeze Firearms

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (10 of 11)

Las Vegas Antique Arms Show 2016 (11 of 11)

Tony Gallazan of Christian Hunter GunsTony Gallazan of Connecticut Firearms, Best Guns and Black Guns.

And some further comment by Larry Blunk.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Antique Arms Show in Las Vegas last week. It’s an interesting show in that it’s not the typical, high-profile show such as Safari Club or SHOT. Vendors generally have small, easily collapsible “campaign” tables and just a few guns. Naturally there are those that bring a massive number of guns, but I don’t really know that it’s advantageous for them. However, it is a great opportunity to see a lot of what’s on the market without having to shop all around. It’s very nice to have exposure to these guns as sometimes it’s really quite hard to tell what a gun is truly like via photos on the internet.

The show is sectioned into various departments such as fine guns, engraving, knives, and more generic guns. There are some fascinating things that can be seen at this show from carved ivory to historically important “old west” guns to very nice hand-made knives. I even found a gentleman practicing his sword handling skills in the lobby! Because of the range of options, the vendors and attendees are quite diverse in many regards. I think that this wide range of people is quite good for the show as it perhaps brings awareness to certain companies that they would otherwise never have. However, and as I’ve stated previously, finding a young person at the show is very difficult. It’s mostly gray-hair filling the aisles. I know that there are a few young people campaigning for this sector of the industry so perhaps we’ll be able to get more youth interested in the near future.

One thing I really enjoy is that the show is much more intimate than the others. It’s easy to speak with someone and that is really what this show is all about. I must say that I met some great new people and was reintroduced to some I haven’t seen in years. I spent hours and hours just chatting about all things related to the industry as well as some more diverse topics such as Elton John and cars. I think that everybody that goes to this show has somewhat of the same opinion in that it’s more for harvesting relationships and connecting with others than it is about outdoing others with showmanship. Overall this show was quite slow but I did enjoy the conversation and the new relationships that were formed.


  • tim wilkes on January 26, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I am also involved in the classic car scene, where similar concerns are often expressed about the lack of younger people coming in with our interest.

    And yet they do, eventually. In this modern age time is the premium currency and in general the mid 20s to mid 40s age group are busy working hard and raising children. Time to devote to their sports and interests is very limited. However, as they become successful and the children move away, they find they can turn more often to their interests. By the time they reach that stage, they have lost their youthful looks and started going grey!

    So that's my theory on why you see very few younger folk at shows like Las Vegas!


    • Simon Clode on January 27, 2016 at 5:39 am

      A pretty good theory! I'm sure if I had a photo from 30 years ago they were all grey then also!

    • Neill on January 27, 2016 at 9:43 am

      I agree with you Tim, it boils down to time, and in most cases, disposable income. Once the kids are self sufficient and the mortgage paid off people can devote themselves to their interests, whatever they may be.

      What is key is getting youngsters interested in the first place, be it shooting, cars or whatever. Even if they get distracted by girls/life/houses/kids they will, when a bit older, come back in most cases.

  • Dave Harris on January 27, 2016 at 3:15 am

    I agree..... Where are the youth? And, is this a dying gents???

    • Larry on January 28, 2016 at 1:11 am

      There were a few of us there! It's up to us to campaign to my generation to get them into this world. Eventually it will happen as this, like anything else, is cyclical. Hopefully...!

  • Jack on January 27, 2016 at 5:15 am

    Hello Simon:

    A pleasure to meet and talk with you at the Antique Arms Show Friday. Your spot on about the lack of younger enthusiasts at the show. The ones that are interested in guns or shooting are drawn to the "black guns" or the plastic stocked rifles with no souls or history like a fine English rifle. I missed the show lays year for business reasons and the attendance did seem to be down front 2 years ago. Hopefully this is a one off year for attendance. Maybe the storm and all the canceled flights may of had some effect on attendance. It's always a pleasure to see the Westley Richard guns and display. See you at SCI! Sincerely,

  • Martin on February 19, 2016 at 6:09 am


    I have one theory too. I'm younger one of you, the real enthusiast. I'm interested in classic arms and hunting from early childhood. I'm from Czech republic and I visited convention in Salzbug and IWA in Nürnberg every year. I have seen the same every year. I lot of people around the stands like Blaser, Sauer etc. In the other side around the stands of famous gunmakers from Ferlach anybody. I think that for a lot of people are guns consumer goods and they don't want invest more money. And next I think the fine classic guns need better marketing. For example when I open common hunting or guns magazines you can see articles about this guns without soul. If I want to read something about fine/bespoke guns I have to buy specialized magazine, but this magazine is for people who's already been enthusiast in bussines. I think the brand or bussines awareness is missing among young people. I'm exemption. :)

    I have to say this pages are the best about this interest, I'm looking it every day. Great job Simon. I think you have really sensitive felling for it, true professional.


    P.S. Excuse my english.

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