A few weekends ago I performed the sacred rite of passage for a gunnie. I disassembled and reassembled my pistol, a Springfield XD. The only parts that were not removed were the sights and the extractor, so i did almost a complete break down. I followed the steps and procedures lined out in this DVD, which i purchased online at cheaper than dirt, so i was not flying blind in the least.
Primary, I wanted to gain a better understanding of how the internals of my pistol worked. This knowledge can come in handy if something breaks on the gun. I will be able to perform a more detailed analysis of the problem and determine if i need to send it off or if a part can be ordered, this could save me money and time. Which presently Springfield's policy is quite restrictive on what can be ordered, but I figure the knowledge, skills, and tools I gained will help when I standardize my defense pistols in other guns, where parts can be ordered without sending the gun into the manufacture.
As a side note, I probably will standardize in 9mm (Glock) and .45 (1911). Both he Glock and the 1911 have tons of parts that can be bought on the open market, which will is a necessity in preparation for a SHTFS. I have chosen two different calibers to have a choice for potential shooters, to hedge my bets against choosing just one caliber, and because I could not make a final decision between the two. The more choices the better, as far as I am concerned, when it comes to handguns, mainly because of their versatility and ease of carry. I doubt I will use this reasoning with long guns.
Back to the topic at hand, I also wanted to clean and oil every single metal part. Which as I got into the process, I realized that the frame will seldom ever need that level of detail stripping. Though my trigger has always felt gritty and it now feels a lot smoother, which just goes to show that a little cleaning and oil never hurt metal. The slide is a different story entirely, I can honestly see the need to break down the slide regularly if you use it in harsh conditions (heat, sand, mud, etc.). Fortunately, the slide is the easy part to break down, unlike the frame. I can also see the need to break down the slide every X number of rounds, though I have no idea what that number might be. If you have any suggestions on that number or would like to leave your personal philosophy on disassembling and cleaning you gun, please comment below, because I would love to hear your thought on the matter. I will probably break down the slide once or twice every two years, to check for unusual wear and keep my knowledge current.
The only advice that I can over for breaking down your XD is to be inventive when it comes to the magazine release assembly. I was able to do everything, but that part in one afternoon. It took me a couple of tries with different tools, over several days, to get it magazine release assembly back in. Another thing that might help, is a vise to hold the frame while your other hands are free. I used my knees as a vise and that made my inner thighs and back sore the next day. I bought a pick and hook set from Wal-Mart to try to get the last leg of the spring under the magazine catch, but that did not work. The spring leg was too strong and I could not push it far enough over. As a another effort, I bought some cheap guitar string and looped it through the hole in the magazine catch and around the spring leg to pull the spring leg in close and then move it over with a pick. This worked a lot better, but I still had problems getting the spring to move far enough over. At that point I could either give up and take it into a gunsmith or try a risky idea I had. My idea was to cut a small amount of the spring leg off, so that when the leg was moved over, I would not have to move it as far to get it under the magazine catch. I removed about 2 millimeters of the spring leg, and was able to pull the leg in using guitar string easy in ONE TRY. I tested and retested the magaize catch with empty and full mags and it seemed to work fine. I am fairly sure that the gunsmith would have probably ended up doing the same thing, of course I could be wrong on that.
Even though it took quite awhile and caused a lot of hassle, I still felt it was worth it. Better to gain the knowledge now, rather than in other more stressful situations. All in all i felt like a jedi, who built their first lightsaber. Though i did not build anything and I had a DVD guiding the way instead of a wizened old man or short green alien.