I've been to gun shows right after the Assault Weapons Ban was enacted, and right after it sunset. I've been to gun shows on the eve of "Y2K" and right after the ascension of The Won, when panic-buying was in full swing. The latter show, in January of '09, set a benchmark for "crowded" in my experience.
Yesterday's show was even more crowded than that. The crowd was so dense that bucking the generally anti-clockwise flow of the mob through the show floor made one feel like a salmon trying to swim the wrong way up the rapids in a nature documentary. You'd shuffle a foot or two forward, stand stock-still waiting for an opening in the Cletii, get jostled a half-step backwards, shuffle forwards again... It took a good five or ten minutes to make it across the width of the exhibit hall.
And they weren't just kicking tires. There was more than one handtruck or two-wheeled shopping basket getting wormed through the crowd, stacked with ammunition by the case lot. One dealer had a transit case of Mosins for $99 open on his table and every time I shuffled past to go meet Shootin' Buddy at the ISRPA table, the level inside was noticeably lower.
We left, unusually, not because we had seen all there is to see or spent ourselves broke, but because we'd had about as much crowd as we could take for the day. At 1:30PM, the line still snaked all the way around the building and people were still streaming from all points of the parking lot compass to go stand at the end of it. Whole sectors of the economy may be in tatters, but obviously this isn't one of them.
I acquired a 1910-vintage Savage .32 because I want to complete my set of early 20th Century American pocket autos (I've now got the Colt, Savage, Remington, and H&R, with only the S&W left to go) and also because I want to be cool like Bobbi who has two of the little raygun-looking things. Another box of Ranger-T to feed my M&P and another magazine in which to stuff it, because you can never have enough magazines, were also acquired, as well as a thousand-round pack of that Winchester M-22 rimfire stuff supposedly optimized for shooting through .22 ARs, apparently by putting it in a black box with the word "Tactical" printed somewhere on it.
Lastly, I grabbed a copy of the latest edition of Ball's Mauser Military Rifles of the World, so my old Fourth Edition will be free to a good home at the blogmeet today.