Making His Case
"I always thought it would be great being an artist working upstairs in a studio. Then I just got to a point where I had done all the stained glass I wanted to do. And I knew I wouldn't ever be the best at it."
But he had no inclination, either, to become the best gun case maker in the world. "I just wanted to make good gun cases. I didn't know what the best was. At the time it was Bryants of London and they had been around since the 1700s so they had a little bit of a head start on me."
Because of the demand, there is a six-month wait for a custom case. But, with the help of Mike Sweaney, Huey creates a case a week on the average. Sweaney, who lives in southern Missouri, builds all the frames. "After I design the case, I send him the dimensions. When the case box is completed he sends it up to me and I get to work. I couldn't do it all myself at this point. Besides, Mike now does such a beautiful job that I couldn't touch his work. If I had to do his work, too, he'd have to give me lessons."
Such is the modest way in which Huey goes about his life's work. But often clients will personally fly to Kansas City in their private jets just to meet the man who has become so renowned at his craft. They bring him their prized possessions for exact measuring, such firearms as Parker, Purdey, Holland and Holland, Boss and Westly Richard.
Huey has handled the best and most expensive guns in history. In some instances, these antique and handmade guns are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He's reluctant to discuss his client list specifically. He respects their privacy, but more than that, it's just his aw-shucks nature.
"I work for some nice people who just happen to have some pretty nice guns," he says.
Can you imagine having a $25,000 Parker lying in a $100 case? Those who can afford such a rare shotgun can't. That's why they, and others who own such rare or valuable firearms, turn to Huey to design and build custom gun cases. Price, generally, is not much of a factor, especially if they've already shelled out the kind of money they have for the gun.
But what does a Huey go for? It depends. A basic shotgun case runs $1,250. A basic rifle case goes for $1,425. A basic pistol case is $1,050. But keep in mind that few gun collectors just settle for the basics, and there are considerable options, such as space for additional guns and barrels, cartridge boxes and cleaning kits, shoulder straps, padded outer canvas covers or whatever your imagination can come up with.