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The recoil spring guide rod on one of my post-2000 Buck Marks is so long the above procedure MUST be done with the barrel removed. Before the rod can move forward sufficiently for its end to clear the recoil post it bumps into the breech of the barrel. Any pistols with this condition would be certain candidates for bent recoil spring guide rods. I’ve seen more than a few rods that have a definite downward droop at the front when the slide is locked back so this may be a common situation.

I suspect the reports of bent recoil rods could have been eliminated if the barrel were removed before removing the slide. With the barrel in place, the slide must be pulled back slightly so the extractor clears. At the same time, the recoil spring rod and buffer must be pulled forward. Any operation that requires the use of more than two hands can lead to problems.

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To remove the plastic firing pin guide, use a dental pick to get under it and pry it up and out. Some will be very tight and require some finesse. For easier subsequent removal, polish the mating surfaces of the plastic with a very fine sandpaper. There's space between the bottom of the plastic and the slide to work the hook of a dental pick in below the plastic housing. The housing needs to come straight up so it doesn't bind. So don't try to get it out without moving the pick to the front and rear to keep it even on the way out.) Here’s a shot of that:

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