Gunsmithing industry

AllOutdoor review: Mad Pig Customs

Eve Flanigan 03.08.22

Steve Tyliszczak (pronounced as TYE-lis-shack) is a member of the Connecticut-based Army National Guard, but he has an after-hours gig that earns a lot of intermittent social media where i discovered for the first time his turn- able goods. Customs of the crazy pig, once just a Cerakote store, is now on the verge of fame thanks to its modernized yet practical lever-action guns. When I first saw a photo of one, I was wowed by the petty combo of modern accessories and color on a classic action. My curiosity was doubly piqued when I noticed the page collated accessories from some of the industry’s heavy hitters on both the manufacturing and retail fronts. Luckily for me, being a writer is a perfect excuse to satisfy that curiosity and request a phone interview to learn the backstory behind these unique short barrel rifles and shotguns (SBR).

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Marlin rifle with V1 Costa Ludus treatment

SHOT Show 2020 was the first to bring modernized lever action guns to the fore. Cerakote finishes, full-length Picatinny rails, and MSR-style sights gave the Marlin stand a look, the likes of which were unlike any other. Of course, since then Marlin has been acquired by Sturm, Ruger, & Co., which makes me wonder if their new lever models should be called Rooglin or maybe Marler, but I digress. If these guns looked cutting-edge at SHOT two years ago, that puts Mag Pig Customs’ shotguns on the cutting edge. Think of a stagecoach Bargain crash into a tank madmax and a firearm was born from the union of many centuries. They are so cool and super tough. Tyliszczak says the inspiration for Mad Pig Customs has evolved over the past two years.

“There was a time when I was an emergency management consultant and I had less work and lots of time. I responded to a Facebook ad looking for cerakoting for rails. For a while we were just a Cerakote shop, but we are also lever gunsmiths. A good friend who was into Marlin lever guns originally just wanted Cerakote. Around this time, Midwest Industries released their M-LOK aluminum handguard, and that started the change. Soon it became necessary to get an FFL, we had more people who wanted what we were doing.

The change he’s referring to is a redesign of the furniture and/or the barrel of a lever-action pistol to create an eye-catching and functional combination. Tyliszczak says his store “simply adds modern utility to an already useful platform.” There are several variations of these customizations that Mad Pig Customs named Thumper. Each is enjoying increasing popularity with Henry and Marlin owners who are ready to take advantage of the modern features of their rifles.

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The pinned and welded Mag Pig Customs muzzle brake gives a port barrel look and tames recoil.

The first in the Thumper series is the company’s original, popularized in Chris Costa’s YouTube videos. It’s called the V1A1 Costa Ludus, and is a Henry or Marlin with the barrel cut to 14.5 inches then threaded and fitted with a Mad Pig Customs signature muzzle brake which is pinned and welded to bring the overall length of the barrel to a portable but non-NFA-rated 16.5-inches overall – not forgetting to bring the “Thump” factor. The standard forends are replaced with a Midwest Industries M-Lok handguard. On top is an XS Sights Sight Rail and Skinner Sights Bear Buster Handlebar. Of course, the package receives custom Cerakote work to craft a one-of-a-kind rifle for its owner.

A variant on the V1A1 model is also offered for those who sometimes prefer a quieter ride. SilencerCo has partnered with Mad Pig Customs since the companies made the SHOT Show connection a few years ago, and now supply their suppressor-ready ASR muzzle brake as an alternative to the Mad Pig brake. With the SilencerCo product on the front, a prominent, modern profile remains on the regular rifle, but with the option of adding a suppressor. This one is also non-NFA.

Two other 16.5 inch barrel models are optimized for night hunting and the use of guide/brush guns called Thumper V2 and V2A1. On both, the receiver and forend gain real estate that is ready for magnification and night vision optics and a bipod, as well as right-mounted irons (the latter are included). The V2A1 version features a suppressor-ready barrel, and on this one the factory stock is swapped out for a skeletonized aluminum Chisel stock, a product designed through a Mad Pig Customs collaboration. Rather than an ammo bracer, the stock has mounts for a handful of extra rounds.

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Marlin 1895 Thumper V1 with Chisel Machining stock, wearing Midwest Industries low QD mount and Holosun optics. Cerakote work also by Mad Pig Customs.

Demand for more portable rifles is high, and Mad Pig is offering SBR versions of their designs. In the pistol caliber version of the Marlin 1894 and Henry Big Boy rifles, a significant amount of gunsmithing is undertaken to produce these droppers. Work begins by cutting the barrels to 11.5 inches. Factory stocks are swapped out for the Chisel aluminum skeleton stocks that complement the Midwest Industries handguard. On the suppressor-ready version of the SBR, Mad Pig shrinks this handguard down a bit to make room for any muzzle device the user wishes to add.

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Thumper V2 built on an 1895 Marlin

As with any emerging style, there are a few surprises. Tyliszczak is proud that even in large calibers these rifles are fun to shoot. This is largely due to a slight increase in weight, an unexpected result of the aluminum components which are actually heavier than the originals. He insists that these rifles are the product of lever-action gunsmiths and are meant for real-world use. Although Mad Pig Customs has a presence on social media, there is no intention to seek popularity through so-called influencers. Online rewards become less important to the active customers he connects with. “We do a lot of business with hog hunting guides in Texas, Louisiana and Georgia,” Steve said. “Alaskan bush pilots are another. A Socom .458 in the rear of the Cessna tends to worry passengers leaning to the left. But a 45-70 that’s bear-ready and has all the features the rider needs, they think that’s good.

Mad Pig Customs’ success is built on a love of the lever rig combined with a skilled gunsmith and a handful of great industry partnerships. To say that their guns have a steampunk style wouldn’t be an overstatement. Meanwhile, the lever-gun community is deemed traditional. I asked if there had been pushbacks from the “Fudds” in the lever gallery. The answer came with a chuckle. “The public perception is the most interesting. A few years ago, I got banned from the Facebook group (name a big gun) as soon as they realized I owned Mad Pig Customs. But Tyliszczak is quick to say that perceptions are changing rapidly as real people with his products show up with photographic evidence of how their rifles and SBRs fit into real work. Only a fool would dispute the resounding success of the boutique and years-long partnerships with several respected manufacturers.

If you want your own Mad Pig, first get a Henry or a Marlin to send. The company does not yet sell complete rifles. Expect a six to eight month wait to receive this very unique rifle, with the expense for Mad Pig being $1,600 to $2,500 or more depending on the work done. Thumper’s average base conversion is around $2,000 at the time of writing.

If a single user-installed component is what is desired, new products will soon appear on the company’s website. These include a plug-and-play muzzle brake for the Henry X series and newer Ruger/Marlin ranges. To turn your lever action rifle into a Thumper or just enjoy the joy of modern lever action guns, visit