A video guide to easily field strip a P.38 - WaltherForums
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:20 PM   #1
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A video guide to easily field strip a P.38

I've been meaning to do this for a while, and considering the recent discussions regarding the right way to take down a P38 I've made a little video to illustrate how I do it. Some folks wonder if the hammer should be up or down, safety on or off, slide locked back or not, etcetera. It can be confusing for those new to the pistol or who don't have the most nimble fingers. Now, the "right" way to disassemble a P38 for cleaning or inspection has one locking the slide back, rotating the safety down (so the hammer drops when the slide moves forward) and then turning the takedown lever forward. The the slide can then be removed once you unlock the slide and move it forward. Here's a snippet from an actual P.38 manual (English translation):

Insert empty magazine. Hold the pistol with the right hand and move the safety lever to ‘Safe’. Next, pull the slide back until it stays open, and remove the magazine. Then turn the barrel catch lever downwards with the left thumb until it engages with an audible ‘click’. The barrel catch lever having been pushed down, the slide should now be pulled back slightly and then be allowed to move forward so as to be separated from the frame. Alternatively, the slide may be drawn back with the left hand while the right thumb depresses the breech catch lever.

While this works fine, my method is a lot easier. First, safety clear the weapon and remove the magazine. To remove the P.38 slide, hook the middle finger of your left hand around the trigger guard and press the barrel back slightly with your left thumb. When you've pushed it back about 10mm (~.4 inches) it'll come to a stop. This is the point where the barrel would normally separate from the slide during a normal cycle - holding the barrel there, rotate the takedown lever with your free hand and that's it - the slide glides right off. Of course, you can hold the pistol with your other hand if you're a southpaw. Here's a video I made to illustrate how easy this method is:


It works exactly the same for P5's, too. To me, it's a lot easier and really simplifies things.

-Pilotsteve

Last edited by Pilotsteve; 08-11-2013 at 10:35 PM.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:10 PM   #2
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I think it is a good service to the membership to produce tutorials so new owners can see or read about acceptable practices before they attempt to field strip their guns. Tanfoglio and others have done this, and now Pilotsteve has done the same.

I am going to suggest an even simpler method. I follow the guidance in the P5 manual. After the gun is confirmed to be clear, hammer dropped, safety off, magazine removed, gently press the gun, muzzle down on a padded surface like a towel on a table top until the movement stops. This will cause the barrel to move back, releasing the pressure so the takedown lever can be turned. This method works on my P1 and P4 so I expect it will work on all P38 models.
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:33 PM   #3
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Yup that works great too Geezer. In fact, that's exactly how the manual for the P5 directs one to take it down.

-Pilotsteve
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:50 AM   #4
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There is a notch milled in the slide of a postwar P.38 or P.1 or P4 or P5, which allows the slide release lever to be turned. There is no such notch in a wartime P.38, and the slide has to be locked back in order to turn the slide release.
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarshallP4 View Post
There is a notch milled in the slide of a postwar P.38 or P.1 or P4 or P5, which allows the slide release lever to be turned. There is no such notch in a wartime P.38, and the slide has to be locked back in order to turn the slide release.
Then I stand corrected. Thanks, I just learned something. I dont own a wartime P38, I should not have made such a sweeping generality. I can stand by my statement for P1, P4, and P5 because I actually use the technique on them.
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Last edited by GonzoGeezer; 08-12-2013 at 06:31 AM.
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Old 08-12-2013, 04:37 PM   #6
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Marshall is correct in a sense. On wartime P.38s the slide needs to be pulled back slightly further - an additional amount than barrel travel alone. To quote the sage words of Mike from a previous thread (and the one that set me off on this project):

Quote:
Originally Posted by MGMike View Post
On postwar guns the slide is machined with a relief notch that allows the takedown lever to be rotated when the slide is retracted very slightly, but not far enough to cock the hammer. WWII guns must be pulled back somewhat further, until the slide completely clears the lever. It takes practice to know when to stop; if one pulls the slide back too far, the hammer will cock, and then it must decocked by turning down the safety before the slide will come off.
Therefore it seems my trick (or that of pressing the barrel downward onto a tabletop) in order to move the assembly rearward enough to release the slide will not work on wartime modells. It doesn't seem to me one necessarily needs to lock the slide all the way back but merely needs to pull it a short distance past the point of barrel separation in order to rotate the release lever. Interesting... anyone with a wartime P.38 want to contribute? Come on Man... grab that fancy digital camera you got for Christmas last year and chime in!

-Pilotsteve
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