i know the “what’s in your case” edition of PS was a few weeks ago, so this may seem late. many of the contributors of PS vol. 11 have custom cases (and a lot of murnaks, it seemed), so that makes me want to do a quick post about cue cases. besides, john barton (formerly of instroke cases and now jb cases) has decided to join poolsynergy, so why not.
with cases, you typically see either soft or hard cases, and most of them are made of leather or vinyl. (leatherette?) a few are the zero halliburton cases, but those are rare (guess no one’s really buying those for cues). as far as protection goes, of course hard cases provide the best protection short of a cue vault, but that can be relative. i think a case protects your cue only if you’re careful to begin with, not counting accidents. i mean, you can have a hard case, but if you constantly leave the case open and you’re not careful with how/where you put the case, the contents can easily slide out, and . . .
you get my point.
so, if you’re the worry wart or if you have very valuable cues, go with a hard case. if mobility is a huge concern (as with many traveling pros), a soft case does a very good job with covering your cues. just don’t drop the sucker, lean the case carelessly against the wall, or leave the zippers open and lay it on the table/counter. you know, carefulness.
now, since soft cases don’t offer too much protection, i think the main things to look for with soft cases are good padding, convenience (e.g., many easy-to-open pouches, a roomy interior, sleeves that can securely hold your cues, etc.), and comfort. one benefit of a soft case is that since most soft cases are pretty light, you can get a large-capacity one (like a 4×8) without the weight penalty. for off-the-shelf models, i kind of like the instroke soft cases, but you have to dig around for those. most stores carry hard instroke cases. porper seems to make a decent soft case. for super-fanciness, most custom case makers will sew up a soft case for you, so go crazy.
as far as hard cases, it kind of depends on what type of cue you have, and whether you care about the cue or not. (yes, there are those that’ll treat a $4000 cue like the village prostitute.) if you have a nice cue that you want to protect, i’d recommend a custom hard case as a rule. i mean, if you spent 1k~5k on that nice custom cue, why not get a case that can actually protect it? the cheapo commercial ones are ok and readily available, but they seem to fall apart quickly so you’ll have to get new ones a year or two later. might as well spend a little more money on a case that’ll last 10+ years.
one beef i do have is with porper-style cases. with the porper-style cases, the butt cap area of the cue sticks out of the case, which is covered by the lid. the lid is typically foam-lined. while the rest of your cue is protected, the butt cap area is only surrounded by that line of foam. that does not cut the mustard with me. (see the picture below for an illustration.)
granted, the cues in the picture are pulled out further for illustration purposes, but when you push the cue all the way down, the butt cap sticks out of the case (same thing with the shafts). you can’t see the foam in the lid here, but that’s how the porper-styles cases are made. i believe the knock-offs use cheaper material than the genuine porper, so the copycats offer even less protection.
when i get a hard case, i like the cue & the shaft to be completely inside the case, like the example below. (example taken from adamant leather.)
the top of the cue and the shafts are flush with the top of the case as seen in the example above. when i pick out a hard case, i’ll actually want the case to be a little taller than the cue, so the top of the cue won’t touch the lid. basically, i want my hard case to completely engulf my cue like a f~*ing armored cocoon. i’ve used a porper case before, and that butt-cap-sticking-out-of-the-case thing is the gripe i have with that design. now, the porer-style cases may have been changed, i don’t know, but a casual intarweb search didn’t show that to be the case.
i’m not here to bash porper-styled hard cases; the design was quite revolutionary in its time. but with recent advances in case-making, the old porper design troubles me. if you buy one, just keep that in mind.
most of the custom case makers are very good at making cases that protect your cue, so protection’s typically a non-issue. just make sure you specify the options you want, and discuss them thoroughly with your case maker. ask for leather samples if you’re unsure of the color, or at least get pictures of the leather. since you, my dear readers, are probably familiar with all the custom case makers, i won’t belabor the point. if you order a new case, enjoy it.