Friday, March 9, 2018

Am I Any Good?

Unless one is endowed with a toxic level of ego, we all experience times of self doubt, and that increases as one tries to accomplish things of varying scales. I'm currently going through that sort of problem.

I'm reading one of my stories on my Kindle, and all sorts of mistakes are jumping out of me that I never noticed during editing. And I just keep thinking: How did I miss this? Did I really write that? Where did I go wrong? To me the wording and sentence structure feel as smooth as sandpaper, and the minor grammar mistakes are like splinters of bamboo under my finger nails. I don't know if this is due to me holding my own stuff to higher standards due to the fact that it's mine, or if it really is as agonizing as it feels. I can only imagine what other people think. Honestly I'm horrified.

Not that these mistakes were due to laziness or lack of effort. I went over it time and again, trying to fix problems, find mistakes, and smooth things out. But that's part of the problem. When you're editing your own stuff, you inevitably miss things. At a certain point you start seeing what you expect to see, not what's actually there. It's this weird mental trick that I just can't get past. This is where a fresh set of eyes helps out tremendously.

But unfortunately I'm working almost exclusively by myself. I want beta readers. I want an editor to help catch these problems, to help channel my stuff. I don't mean to make excuses. Normally I actually accept more responsibility than is actually mine when things are at fault. But I'm now forced to acknowledge that I'm probing my limitations as a self editor. But reading all of these flaws eats away at my confidence like battery acid.

Am I actually any good at writing? I know some people say that I am. So far I haven't gotten any negative comments except from myself. But are others just being nice and not willing to point out the problems that they see? Getting better requires ruthless honesty to cull those mistakes. Am I shouldering more responsibility than I can handle? I wish I could hire an editor. That would help tremendously. But I simply don't have the funds to do so. My friends are either unqualified or are up to their eyeballs in their own problems. How can I ask them to read my stuff when they are dealing with their own intense hardships?

Nor do I wish to sell my books if they aren't up to a certain level of quality. I have a sense of honor about me. I can't in good conscience tell someone to buy something if I don't believe that it's worth their time and money. Is my stuff actually worth it? I already try to sell them cheap. But at present I feel like a fraud. At the same time I'd like to be able to earn enough money to maybe buy some things now and then. I want to work hard on this and other projects and earn enough to have a decent living. Heck, someday I'd like to have a family, and it'd be nice if I could actually support them like a man, husband and father actually should. I've got no one relying on me now, and given my dating skill that isn't likely to change, but there's always the risk.

I want to get good at this. I want to entertain people. I want to make their lives better by making them forget the crap going on in life by using words to take them to other worlds and whisk them away on grand adventures. But if this is the height of my capabilities, I'm in for trouble.

Maybe I'm being overly dramatic. Maybe this stuff just stands out to me because it's what I made, and nobody else cares about the mistakes. Maybe they aren't actually as big as I'm making them out to be. Maybe I actually am writing good stories and it's just taking time for people to get wind of them. But I just don't know.

Chances are most of you out there aren't the commenting type, but this would be a good time to get a few. I want to know the honest thoughts of you folks reading this. Don't BS me. I need harsh truth. I really need some help with this, and I'd really appreciate anything you all can give me. Sorry if this blah-fest bored you. I'll try to have something better soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Winchester 94 450 Marlin

Tested: Winchester M94 TE Lever-Action in .450 Marlin
Winchester 94, bigger and badder
The classic Winchester 94 continues to prove one of the most enduring rifle platforms ever conceived. In spite of the continuing advances with bolt actions and semi-autos like the AR-15, and repeatedly being declared a relic fit only for the wall or museum, the 94 and its kin like the Marlin 336 and others keep coming back like steel and wood revenants. This shouldn't be surprising however. The designs are simply too good to fade away. They have proven consistently reliable, handy, versatile and have a history to them that few other classes of firearm can match.

But that's not to say that they can't adapt. Winchester has shown that the vaunted 94 is capable of even more than even its greatest adherents could have suspected. For the longest time the 94 has been seen as a medium cartridge class rifle, firing thirty and sometimes thirty five caliber pills at modest but serviceable velocities. Firing the big 45 pills was the business of 86's and 95's.

But now that's changed!

The new 94 has somehow been stretched to its utmost limits and is now chambered in the potent 450 Marlin. For those unfamiliar with this cartridge, it was an attempt by Marlin to have a modern big bore cartridge capable of taking big and dangerous game at modest ranges, meant to compete with the old war horse, the 45-70. It's a full-size belted magnum, something normally seen on old African cartridges. Nothing was actually wrong with the 450. It was a solid performer and did all that was asked of it. So why is it not more popular?

Well, the 45-70, it's ancient opponent, proved to still have plenty of fight left in it. Despite its age, the 45-70 is one of the most versatile and reliable cartridges of its class. It can be loaded to very low pressures and take deer and similar sized game like a champ, but can be stoked with bigger powder charges and modern bullets to take just about anything within its shooting range. Vince Lupo famously used the 45-70 in the Marlin 1895 lever action to take Africa's Big 5. It slew hippo, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo and elephant all with authority. Despite never being envisioned to do what it's been called on to do, the old cartridge has proven to have extraordinary potential in modern frames, able to be loaded to fantastic pressures, even though the 450 Marlin is meant to do all of that from the get-go.

The 450 Marlin was the youthful upstart coming for the throne of the aging and supposedly washed up 45-70 Government. But it was trying to fill a niche that was already filled. But with this new concept of a big bore 94, the 450 was given a new chance at life. In the picture below you will notice the big fat rim on the 45-70. That seemingly insignificant bit of pudge creates a problem with feeding in some platforms. Heck, it's length and width were what made it such a devil of a cartridge to fit into leverguns in the first place! But the 450 Marlin is a bit more narrow in the hips even with the addition of the belt, and thus was selected for the new line of 94's.

Image result for 450 marlin vs 45-70
45-70 on the left, 450 Marlin on the right

I must admit, it seems to be a good match up. Somehow what was considered a lightweight rifle, a carbine best suited for those with chronic nostalgia, has now been imbued with a wonderfully potent big bore cartridge. The 94 is one of the lightest, fastest and best handling arms out there, having fought from the snowy permafrost of Northern Canada, all throughout the dusty Old West and even into the steaming jungles of the Amazon and consistently given stellar performance. And now its paired with one of the most efficient modern big bore cartridges. This can safely tame any game you can come across in the New World, and most if not all of the Old World, if you feed it the right loads.

It's still packing six rounds in the tube magazine, with a seventh up the spout if you like being prepared for Comanche raids at any time, and all in a platform just a hair over three feet long. I'm amazed at the compact design combined with raw power.

Although it's likely to give a devil of a kick, what with having such a strong cartridge in a light six and a half pound gun, the designers had the wisdom to grant it an integral muzzle break and butt pad, so hopefully broken collar bones will be at a minimum. It's also been graced with side-ejection, allowing scope mounting, swivel studs and best of all, iron sights! I confess, I turn my nose up at most bolt actions today because they are robbed of their dandy iron sights. True, scopes allow better sighting and shooting at long ranges. But there is a sense of independence and reliability with old irons. I just can't be cured of that love.

Take a look if you can find one! This will be a contender with Marlin's impressive 1895 Guide Gun. I admit, I want one. The 94 might be old, but it's got plenty of life left in it. Take note gun makers! Some of these old pill pushers will crawl back out, no matter how much you try to bury them!

475 Linebaugh Levergun

Big Horn Armory hasn't been idle in the years since they delightedly released their Model 90 460 S&W lever action rifle. And boy have people been happy to hear about it. In the interim they've been polishing their craft, releasing ever refined improvements and have now released a levergun in yet another cartridge in their Model 90 frame. This time it's chambered in the venerable .475 Linebaugh cartridge. For those unfamiliar with the cartridge, it's a trimmed down 45-70 meant for big game hunting in revolvers, much like its cousins and is most certainly in the same league as the 454 Casull. but with a slight edge in bore diameter.

Model 89B - 475 Linebaugh
Big Horn Armory Model 90 .475 Linebaugh

As you can see, it's still a ruggedly handsome rifle based on the staunch Winchester 1886 and 92 frames, using vertical locking bars to hold the square bolt in place. It's an efficient and durable design that has lasted for over a century. And now it's stoked with yet another potent magnum-class pistol cartridge. It can comfortably handle most if not all big game in North and South America, provided one is using the appropriate loads for the game they are hunting. Stoked with heavy duty solids this handsome gun can handle brown bear, bison and moose, although it wouldn't be my first choice.

Then again, that being said, if offered to me for such tasks I wouldn't hesitate a moment to give it a try.

I hope these boys keep up the good work. If you want to learn more of their products take a look at their site here: