By Ted Yost
Enthusiasts, shooters, and collectors always seem to be striving to improve the quality and scope of our handgun collections. There are lots of considerations going into making those choices, and things like budget, intended purpose and collectability play roles. The process almost always has the goal of acquiring better and better examples of whichever segment of the market we choose. We upgrade from basic to custom, looking to trade better for best at every opportunity. I like the old saying “I’d rather have 4 quarters than 10 dimes.”
As we begin to amass our enviable collections, there are certain stand outs — the special pieces capturing our hearts and imaginations. These are the ones we cherish and imagine passing down to our grandkids. If I sound like I’m bitten pretty hard by this bug, it’s because I am. Sure, a gun’s just a tool, I get this. In my view though, it’s much more. A quality gun is a legacy, steeped in the history of wars, the old west, or the hunting field. It’s memories of friends and family gone, and times fondly remembered.
One of Ted’s own cases. You can see the amount of work needed! The payoff is elegance in the extreme!
The “Kearsarge” model from Classic Chests. A unique take on the custom chest concept indeed.
One of my earliest fascinations with fine firearms actually had little to do with just the guns themselves. I was amazed by the assemblage of gun, case, and accessories making up a “package” — keeping all these things together, preserving and displaying them in impressive form. I studied cases of all styles and materials. I found the most appealing weren’t the most utilitarian, but the ones whose workmanship and materials were equal to that of the guns themselves.
As my work improved, I placed worthy examples in furniture style cases, French-fit with best quality cloth. It’s a labor of love, time consuming and certainly not the most profitable use of time for a one-man shop. But rewarding work nonetheless. It’s clear to me I can’t be a case-maker and still be able to do any quantity of gunsmithing work, so I’ve looked for sources for fine quality, reasonably priced, available cases.
Until now, we’ve had the iconic firm of Marvin Huey Cases — old world elegance, best quality materials and craftsmanship, and home to some of the finest guns on the planet. They’re also priced very fairly at the high end of the market, as they should be. For many though, the cost exceeds the budget. Sadly, lower priced alternatives often seem to leave a huge gap between the dream and the reality. Ingenuity loves an opening like this, and it was only a matter of time before someone stepped in to fill the gap.
A Classic Chest for Python Hunter. A fitted case turns a “good” gun into something memorable.
I’ve recently become acquainted with Glenn Dean of “Classic Chests and more.” Glenn’s a long-time woodworker who started his professional career in 2002 making boxes. A full-time job in construction kept him afloat, until the housing market tanked in 2008. Adversity inspires, and it was then Glenn made the leap into full-time woodworking, but production work didn’t agree with his creative nature. He stuck with that job until 2011, when he and his wife started Classic Chests. Seeing a market filled with inexpensive imports, they began making very high quality presentation cases using solid American woods and high-grade lining materials and processes.
One of Glenn’s more remarkable styles is the “Kearsarge” chest, made from a single solid block of wood. It’s split, custom inletted for a specific firearm, polished beautifully, fit with the finest in hardware, and magnificently finished. It’s a completely unique approach and masterfully done.
Classic Chests offers many wood types, interior styles, laser engraving, and hand-carved images, among other options. Glenn’s philosophy is pretty simple — his name is on everything going out his door and he’s the guy the customer talks to from start to finish. It’s going to be right. This is a guy who tackles each job with enthusiasm and pride. I’ve found Glenn Dean a pleasure to speak with, a guy who’s passionate about his craft and appreciative of his customers.
It might just be the time for you to really enhance a couple of your favorite collectibles.