Looking for a live fire gun show? Try the Big Sandy
Just outside of the small, unincorporated community located on U.S. Route 93 that is Wikieup, Arizona, there is a semiannual three-day shooting event that shows off thousands of guns ranging from 9mm to 155mm howitzers. It's a gun show of sorts, but one that you have to witness to really get the joy of.
What is it?
Big Sandy Range in Mohave County, Arizona has a huge quarter-mile long firing line and is set up with a 1200-yard maximum distance. (Compare that to your average 100-yard rifle range!) During the three day, twice-yearly shooting event there are more than a thousand reactive targets (Tannerite go boom!), RC aerial targets, extended night shoots with pyrotechnics and literally thousands of NFA weapons.
What's an NFA weapon? These are guns registered under the 1934 National Firearms Act as machine guns, short-barreled rifles, suppressors, and AOW's. You know-the really good stuff.
(When you start to see artillery rounds being broken out, its hard not to squeel. Photo credit Big Sandy Range)
"Those that come to the Big Sandy, come to shoot," says the website, and they mean it. On average there are over 3.5 million rounds fired per event. That's a whole lotta brass.
You may have heard Big Sandy's gun line even if you have never been there. Several video game and film production companies have set up to record audio of the line in action in past years to capture authentic gun and artillery sounds that have appeared in a variety of media.
Is it open to the public?
By all means, these events are a prime example of the 2nd Amendment in super-sized amounts. You can almost see the ghosts of the 1776 Patriots in the smoke tendrils coming from the firing line. Big Sandy is open to both shooters and spectators.
Their upcoming spring shoot is set for April 4-6.
For many, the Big Sandy Shoot and its Eastern-US companion Knob Creek is as close as you may ever get to seeing small to medium artillery and select-fire/full-auto weapons being fired in a safe manner without joining the military.
(Ever shot a water-cooled Browning machine-gun with anti-aircraft horseshoe ammo cans? Photo credit Big Sandy Range)
Since the Hughes Amendment passed in 1986 that banned sales of new machineguns to the public, the price of the few "Pre-86" Class III transferable guns already on the books skyrocketed. Today, it's virtually impossible to buy a legally registered full auto for $5K, with many going several times that amount.
(The rental wall. And yes, they are all full-auto. Photo credit Big Sandy Range)
Besides visiting the range and watching the fireworks, the event also rents guns. This means that for the cost of a three-day spectator's pass ($25) and the cost of a 20 round belt of 30.06 ball for a M1919A4 Browning Light Machinegun ($30) you can have an experience that can be a genuine bucket list item for you or your kids.
Don't worry if you can't make the Spring shoot in April, Big Sandy runs again in the fall..