Does the phrase "field-stripping" make you think of soldiers in Basic Training mastering complex tasks? Field-stripping your semi-automatic handgun is much simpler than it sounds, as Smith & Wesson's Julie Golob demonstrates in this video from the iconic gunmaker's GUNSMARTS series. There are lots of reasons why you should know how to field-strip your pistol, but for new gun owners, the best one may be this: It's a terrific way to understand how your gun works, and that will improve your safety and accuracy on the firing line.
As Golob demonstrates, there are two main types of semi-automatic magazine-fed handguns. There are hammer-fired guns, such as you'll see with 1911-style pistols; there are also striker-fired guns, such as the S&W M&P that you'll see Golob disassemble and reassemble in this video. Together with your owner's manual and the rules-of-thumb that Golob demonstrates here, you can master your gun's internal and external controls in a matter of hours ... not three months under a drill instructor's supervision.