Into The Breach - 18 Series Bag Company
This week I found two fantastic gentlemen from the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment, the Nation’s premier light infantry special operations unit. Not only are they awesome humans, but they were also great soldiers devoted to our country.
The third awesome soldier and business, Mad Pig Customs, founded by Steve Tyliszczak, a Connecticut National Guard member who makes, in my opinion, an awesome version of an old classic.
What they all have in common is their devotion to craftsmanship. I think you will be able to tell how much I like what they are all doing, how much I admire them, and am interested in where they are all going. I hope that you enjoy this SITREP as much as I did writing it.
The first message that I received from Steve, the owner of Mad Pig Customs, made me laugh. I had reached out to him to discover whether he would mind if I wrote about him. He replied, “Hey Matt, I don’t think I’m all that interesting, but I’d be happy to talk to you.” His response is exactly WHO I want to be writing about.
Steve Tyliszczak is in the Army National Guard in Connecticut. When he’s not terrorizing the local community one weekend a month, Steve works Counter-Drug for the U.S Coast Guard. To ensure that he doesn’t catch a breath, Steve devotes every waking hour to Mad Pig Customs.
Mad Pig Customs does lever-action gunsmithing. I am a huge fan of lever-action rifles. I was under the impression that they were like revolvers, if the round doesn’t go off, cycle the next round into the chamber and pull the trigger. Turns out, lever actions are fussy machines whose parts need to function flawlessly to fire.
Send Steve a Marlin 336, 1894, or 1895 rifle or Henry lever-action and in six months you get a functional work of deadly art called a thumper, they are absolutely beautiful. Mad Pig Customs has developed an awesome partnership with Midwest Industries, Wild West Guns, Skinner Sights, and Hoptic USA to supply the additional parts needed to fabricate the Thumpers. These long-term relationships have paid dividends in low supply times, these companies would be crazy not to support Steve, Mad Pig Customs showcases their parts in the best possible way.
During the hour-long conversation, we spoke about Mad Pig Custom guns, Counter-Drug life, and building rifles on the East Coast. There’s a lot that goes into making a lever-action Thumper. Steve goes to great lengths to ensure that each added part doesn’t change the overall system and works seamlessly together. Contrary to what I originally thought, each integrated part needs to be tested to ensure the weapon still functions, it’s not just about jamming in parts and hoping for the best.
Steve and I spoke about the process and one thing is clear, for a one-man operation, Steve has a lot on his plate. Steve spoke about expectation management regarding gunsmithing timelines. He’s proud of his work, he makes awesome firearms, but some customers don’t understand that it’s literally just him. He’s a craftsman, and this craft takes time.
Steve, I’m a huge fan of you and your work. I’ll continue to follow your work and I’m sure my network will too.
If you are interested in Mad Pig Custom rifles, reach out to Steve at Steve@madpigcustoms.com or direct message through Facebook or Instagram.
Check out and follow his album on Instagram @madpigcustoms, it's true gun porn.
I reached out to the owner of GUNFORMZ, Frank Eaton. A buddy from Ranger Regiment told me to sniff around and I’m glad that I did. The owner of GUNFORMZ, Frank, spent 19 years in the United States Special Operations Command. Between 10 years in the 75th Ranger Regiment (seven years in the Regimental Recon Detachment or RRD), three years as a Military Free Fall Instructor, and six years in a Special Missions Unit, Frank Eaton is the guy you want beside you at Thermopylae.
GUNFORMZ does semi-custom foam kits for weapons cases. The foam is expertly cut using a waterjet, ensuring exact edges for the rifle, optic, or kit requirement. These edges are what keep your $4,000 optic from bouncing around unsecured. Frank has taken the time to develop inserts that can fit almost anything put in a gun case. We love our precision rifles and brag about hitting pie plates at distance, so it only makes sense for me to transport them in precision-cut foam.
Custom foam can be expensive, turning a lot of folks away which ultimately risks damaging the weapon system. GUNFORMZ foam kits are priced to sell to the common gun owner that takes pride in their weapon system. With reasonable prices and unsurpassed quality, GUNFORMZ kits are the way to go. Frank’s strategy is simple, provide an economical solution for your protective case. All the GUNFORMZ foam is water jet cut from 2lb polyethylene closed-end foam. This strategy allows Frank to offer awesome products at half the price of custom foam. Check out his Amazon here.
Frank also does handguns, optics, and other accessories as well. At 18 Series Bags we appreciate American-made products, and so does Frank. All his products are just that, American sourced and American-made. He knows a thing or two because he’s done a thing or two.
Check out his Instagram @gunformz. I guarantee that when you see his guitar cases, you’ll think about that retirement gift everyone was chipping in for. Frank's products are exactly what non-profits should be giving to their big donors.
I’m glad that we were linked up. You make high-quality, American-made products that anyone would be proud of to showcase their weapon in. I’d be proud to use your foam in our bags.
First, Three Rangers is a fantastic premium rye whiskey. At 84 proof and a smooth finish, you won’t go wrong keeping a bottle in the cabinet, but more on the whiskey in a minute. Three Rangers is the model for others to follow and live up to the axiom, Rangers Lead The Way. A portion of all the proceeds goes to the real champion, Three Rangers Foundation. I love everything about this.
Following separation from service one of the Rangers, John Collett reinvigorated a passion for distilling by taking an internship at the Koval distillery in downtown Chicago, IL. John graduated from intern to head distiller in a few years, and in the process developed the concept of funding a veteran non-profit through a whiskey brand. With the help of other Rangers, the whiskey, non-profit, and company were born.
Their Mission Statement at Three Rangers? To recognize, honor, and celebrate those who serve and sacrifice.
The Three Rangers team continues to grow and expand its product reach. Online sales and programs with both the Navy Exchange (NEX) and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) are constantly expanding their reach into new states. I live in Colorado, and I have asked my go-to veteran-owned liquor stores to carry it, and I suggest that you do the same. I’m partial, based on my known heritage, to favor blended Rye Whiskey, and this one is my favorite, no question. On their website, you’ll find some fantastic glassware and accessories. As well, no Ranger website would be complete without a pair of Ranger Panties.
Three Rangers was founded and is run by veteran Army Rangers who have ingrained within them a history of extraordinary experiences along with a strong, dedicated set of values. Their vision is to “Lead The Way” for veteran-focused companies by setting the example of commitment, community, and leadership for all to follow. They do this via the Three Rangers company which produces spirits, as well as the Three Rangers Foundation, a separately formed, but closely related 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a mission to empower veterans to achieve lifelong success.
On the Three Rangers Foundation website you’ll find transition assistance, family resources, Ranger-friendly career opportunities, Ranger events, ways to become a mentor, and an entire page of advertisements for Ranger-owned businesses. Isn’t that awesome?
As you can tell I love what these guys are doing. They make an excellent product, donate a portion of all proceeds to a non-profit dedicated to their own, and celebrate other veteran’s businesses. Sound familiar? I’m about ten steps behind them but they’ve blazed the trail for me to follow. These guys are squared away!
Brothers, you don’t just say the Ranger creed, you epitomize it.
I struggled on how to close this Memorial Day SITREP out, so much so that I originally wrote 'dunno' in the hyperlink. I finally concluded that I am fortunate to be surrounded, every day, by the best of us. Please don’t be irritated by the folks that say ‘Happy Memorial Day’. Live this weekend to the fullest, be present, and spend quality time with your family. Those that didn’t make it back would have wanted us to enjoy this life to the fullest.
If you can grab a bottle of Three Rangers Whiskey, pour three fingers, and toast all the brothers and sisters that didn’t make it home, chose to call it early because they left their souls in the Middle East, or are still struggling with it all today.
As the musician, Macklemore wrote, “I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave and the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name”.
So, this weekend my glass(es) are dedicated to Ayman Taha (5th), Nate Winder (1st), Pat kutschbach (10th), Doug Vose (10th), Riley Stevens (3rd), Paul Schultzman (10th), Ryan Sartor(10th), Matty Pucino (20th), Mike Riley(10th), and Ryan Groh (10th), so that you all never really die.
Always forward. - Matt
U.S Army Painting done by Stuart Brown and can be found at here
Next SITREP - All we control are the choices that we make right now