Gun show gives collectors big bang for their buck

In addition to guns, there are coins, metal detectors, swords, knives, military memorabilia, Native American artifacts and jewelry.

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WALLA WALLA - One of the area's longest-running gun shows is taking place this weekend at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds.

Sports Connection Inc. Promoter Brian Kjemsmo said he's been running the Walla Walla gun show for 15 years, and before that it had operated for at least another five, he added.

This weekend, 35 vendors will continue a two-decade tradition, as they display their weapons and other wares on 35 tables, as hundreds of gun enthusiasts buy, sell, trade and mostly talk guns.

"You see it all. You got Winchester collectors. You got shotguns. You got reloading equipment," Kjemsmo said.

Though most of his show is dedicated to guns, there were numerous tables with items such as coins, metal detectors, swords, knives, military memorabilia, Native American artifacts and even jewelry.

Of all the guns that were displayed, it was an 1863 Colt .45 owned by collector Glen E. Mattox that had the highest value.

"What happened to these guns is they went back to the arsenal afterward. Then the Spanish American war started," Mattox said.

After the Indian Wars, soldiers could buy their Colt .45s for about a buck and two-bits. Those that weren't purchased were stored until the next war, when their long-barrels were cut off for use in the United State's war against Spain in 1898.

Mattox had two of the shorter-barrel Colt .45s on display for about $4,000 each.

The unaltered original from the same era was worth closer to $8,000, he said.

Even more important than having an unaltered original is being able to prove what battle a firearm was used in.

Guns associated with Gettysburg and Little Big Horn are the most sought after, Mattox said.

One of Mattox's short-barrel Colt .45 pistols could have been used during Little Big Horn; if he could ever authenticate it, the Colt would be worth at least four times as much.

Mattox's Colt .45 pistols will be on display today at the Walla Walla gun show, along with other military memorabilia he has collected for more than half a century.

The gun show is from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; cost is $6 for adults. Admission if free for children, active military, police and other emergency services personnel.

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