Browning Buck Mark .22 – 11 Years of Frustration Ends

Take a look at this sweet firearm:

That’s the Browning Buck Mark .22 competition pistol. I bought that in 2001 as a gift for my wife. Over the last 11 years we have enjoyed shooting that little guy immensely. However, one thing that I have absolutely hated about it is reassembling it after stripping it down for cleaning.

In fact, I hate it so much that last night was only the fourth time — in 11 years and thousands upon thousands of rounds of ammo — that I’ve bothered to take it apart and clean it. Now, I have a natural hatred for cleaning my guns. The only reason I do it at all is because I care about them enough to keep them in proper shape. Well, that and I can’t afford to pay some poor schlup to do it for me.

“But Stu,” you might cry, “cleaning a gun once every three years with thousands of rounds put through in between isn’t really ‘taking care’ of your gun!”

You’re right. That’s just how bad I hate cleaning the Buck Mark. So why do I hate it so much? Well, take a look at the condition it’s in right now, the day after my son and I worked together to clean it:

Yeah. My son and I spent a good 20 minutes trying to get the *$#@! recoil-spring assembly back in place. I finally got so frustrated, I gave up. Here’s a better look at the recoil spring and guide rod:

Now imagine trying to get that flimsy spring to compress to the same length as the guide rod, then sticking the pointy end of the guide rod into place, while maintaining the spring’s compression, and somehow finagling the other end into a keyed slot in the slide. If you imagined something easy, then you’re just going to have to trust me when I say it is very difficult. That difficulty is magnified when you have only one arm to work with.

I honestly have no idea how I was able to reassemble this thing the previous three times I cleaned it. Anyway…

So after all the frustration I thought to myself, “There has got to be some kind of trick to reinstall this thing more easily!” Lucky for me, there are plenty of YouTube videos that show how to reassemble the Buck Mark.

Watching a video, I immediately realized that there is something very different about my Buck Mark and everybody elses. The recoil spring and guide rod assembly is supposed to look like this:

Yep. After 11 years of owning this guy, I just now realized that my firearm was improperly assembled at the factory! The end of the recoil spring is supposed to be held in place by a groove cut into the end of the guide rod. Guess whose recoil spring was not clamped into that groove?

So after 11 years of cursing Browning’s engineers, I can finally curse the appropriate target: the quality control employee who let this slip through!

So how did I handle this knowledge? Like any good gun-toting citizen would: I grabbed a pair of pliers and did some meddling. Yep… you can go ahead and call me Dr. Gunsmith now! :D

23 Responses to Browning Buck Mark .22 – 11 Years of Frustration Ends

  1. Larry E says:

    I’m having the same issue and wishing I had just bought the Ruger instead. Between this issue and my problems with mis-feeds, I should have bought the Mark III.

    Can you give me a little more detail on how you got the spring back on the rod? Was it difficult?

    • Paul says:

      I bought a needle nose vise grip; compress the spring, clamp the vise grip on the rod about 1/2″ below the groove in the guide rod, push an E clip on the rod (in the groove, and gently let the spring decompress. On the older buckmarks, the rod holds a little plastic thingy that fits in a slot in the slide. On newer ones, the rod slides through (front to back) the firing pin assembly, then do as above.

    • ShooterPro says:

      Mine used to be retained… then several thousand rounds of suppressed shooting later, it was so gunked up it prevented the sear from properly engaging, as i discovered when dealing with a copperhead, and it went on like a glock 18. 10 rds and I see the slide locked back, and a copperhead riddled with holes. I immediately tore it down completely and after a polymer safe solvent bath was scooping crud out of every nook and cranny. Even the barrel lug was crudded up bad. All that extra carbon buildup. I have since found a stronger recoil spring to help tame the overpressure issue which led to such an increase in buildup.

      I fixed the misfeed issue by thoroughly cleaning my mags, then i used some moly spray lube and sprayed the body down inside and out. The springs are also crap.

  2. Larry E says:

    I’m glad I found this page. I was about to purchase another guide rod and spring.

    I just took a pair of needle nose pliers, and squeezed the last few spirals of one end of the spring so they would catch the groove on the guide rod.

    • Stu says:

      Glad you got it working. I’ve actually really enjoyed having this guy over the years. I’ve just avoided cleaning it due to the issue with the guide rod and recoil spring. But I fixed mine basically the same as you did — just a pair of pliers.

      Good luck with yours going forward!

      • ResponsibleGunowner says:


        I am an NRA Training Counselor and know Buckmarks inside and out. So as soon as I saw the first photo of the guide rod and recoil spring assembly with one end of the spring extending past the end of the guide rod, I knew what was wrong: A tiny C-clip is missing. It is designed to hold the recoil spring under tension on the guide rod. The spring should not be loose on one end as pictured.

        The C-clip, not the end coils of the recoil spring, must be inserted into the groove near the pointed end of the guide rod and snapped into the groove in front of the compressed recoil spring using finger pressure or a needle-nose pliers.

        Do not–I repeat–do not attempt to crimp the end coils of the recoil spring itself into the groove. Doing so will ruin the spring and probably the guide rod as well.

        If the C-clip is missing–either because it was not installed at the factory or because it was inadvertently lost during a previous field-strip attempt (very easy to do)–the pistol will be almost impossible to reassemble, as you discovered.

        Please go to the Browning Web site,, then to Page 96 of the Browning Gun Parts Price List, and order Reference Number 43, Part Number B5152681, Recoil Spring Guide Rod Retaining Ring, $1.25 each, install it properly on the guide rod as I described above, and your problems will be over.

        You might want to order a few extras just in case, plus anything else you might need, like a new guide rod and spring if these parts have been compromised.

        In the future, the guide rod and recoil spring assembly should be cleaned and lubricated as a unit and not taken apart because there is no real reason to disassemble these parts for routine maintenance.

        The Browning Buckmark is a great handgun and far superior to the doodad-ridden Ruger Mark III, in my opinion. Once you educate yourself on how to properly disassemble, clean, and reassemble it, your Buckmark will give you a lifetime of reliable service and then some.

        I should know. Although I am not a Browning employee, I own several Buckmarks, one of which has more than 20,000 rounds through it without any mechanical malfunctions whatsoever (except for the occasional faulty rounds, which are fairly common with .22 LR ammo).

        In addition, I thoroughly clean and lubricate my Buckmarks (including all the magazines) after every range outing. As with any gun, field stripping, cleaning, and reassembly are straightforward and even fun once you master the correct procedures.

        Here’s wishing all of you a Happy New Year and many years of safe shooting with your Buckmarks.

        • Bruce says:

          Thanks responsible owner for this informative tip. I don’t often clean a buckmark rifle just because of this problem… I was missing that little retaining clip and the reassembly without it was a really frustrating moment… but since I only use it once every 3-4 years, I’d forget just what it was that would cause all this fuss… and it would only become apparent again until reassembly… I’ve ordered the spare parts … thanks for the welcome end to a unnecessary string of 4 letter words

        • John D. Edgar says:

          This must be a typical problem. I purchased a brand new Buck Mark a year ago. I have run approximately 1,000 rounds through it, only cleaning it fully assembled and having never taken it apart. Last week at the range the gun started failing to fire due to the hammer not resetting after a round was fired. A few drops of oil seemed to rectify the situation, but I decided to take the gun apart to find what caused the problem. The owners manual only directs cursory cleaning, but I found that the heavy paint inside the action was wearing loose and causing the problem. In addition, I found that my recoil spring was also not pinned. The gun will function without the retaining clip, but makes re-assembly difficult and risks loss of the spring when disassembled and it flys across the room. Thank you for this information! I will be ordering the clip.

    • paul greville says:

      i’m trying to get a stronger spring ive had a few buckmark they all have the same problem i’m in darwin north australia its very dificult to get parts would someone be willing to post me a bunch of recoil springs i can pay no problem .

  3. Stu says:

    Thanks for the pointers ResponsibleGunowner! Hopefully you’ve helped other Buckmark owners from making the mistake that Larry and I did. Though my Buckmark has been working perfectly in the 15 or so months since I performed this ad hoc surgery, if I run into trouble with it again, I’ll know what to do.

  4. Joe Fasano says:

    I have a new buck mark camper . The slide is very hard to pull back. Have you any Ida’s. thanks joe

    • Stu says:

      Aside from ensuring that it’s properly lubed, the only reason I can think of why the slide would be difficult to pull back is due to the internal hammer not being cocked. In such a case, when pulling the slide you are dealing not only with the recoil spring, but the hammer spring (which is much stronger) as well.

      However, that should only be the case the first time you pull the slide. Once you’ve done that, the hammer should lock back and the slide will move more easily after that.

      If you find that it’s always difficult to pull back the slide, even when the hammer is cocked, then you might want to have a gun smith take a look at it.

      Hope that helps. Good luck!

  5. db says:

    Had problem w recoil spring also spring had rotated on rod. Clip was still on it grabbed rod w pliers on other side near plastic piece and rotated spring on rod untill it was back in proper position on clip and then put put gun back together worked fine but still hard to jack 1st round in

  6. Richard R says:

    I own both a Browning Buckmark and a Ruger MkII. Both are well built firearms capable of 10′s of thousands of rounds. Both, to the untrained, can present challenges when cleaning. Both are very accurate firearms and very comperable to each other. I have used both in Conventional Target Shooting. I recommend buying both, but if you can only get one, get the one that feels better in your hand.

  7. Kent Horner says:

    The Recoil Spring Guide Rod Retaining Ring is nothing unusual. Compression rings of this sort are used in many applications, holding the wheel on to my push lawn mower as my last personal example. If I only knew the actual diameter, I’m hoping the local hardware store can save me time and shipping cost of which would be 3 or 4 time the cost of the $2 part. Any ideas.

  8. Smith627 says:

    I found replacement guide rod spring retaining c-clip at Ace Hardware. I think the size was 1/8 inch. I had lost my original upon disassembly and Ace Hardware had the correct size c-clips very inexpensive.

  9. Tom says:

    Wow. This is great! My new Camper had this exact same issue. I field stripped mine for the first time last night and after 20 minutes and some sore finger tips I finally got mine back together. Looking at YouTube videos I knew mine was different as every video showed the spring remaining compressed. I knew something was wrong. Big Thanks to both ResponsibleGunowner and Smith627 for info on the missing part. Think I’ll try Ace first.

    • David Cuttler says:

      I just fought for an hour to get my spring back in place, and now I know why. No circlip! I cannot remember ever seeing it even when the gun was new a long time ago.

      I always wondered why the rod just floated in the slide.

      I am heading to ace hardware.

  10. Jay Morgan says:

    Love my buckmark but have been having a problem with light strike on rounds that don’t fire. I have changed out the firing pin and cleaned all this gave me access to but in the second magazine I had a light hit. Took it apart and scrubbed the barrel breach with a brush and patches to where a round would slide in and fall out if you tipped the gun 180 degrees. In 3 magazines I had light hits again. I have both used other peoples amo and bought fresh new pistol – 22 long rifle amo and had the same problem with light hits. Love to hear some suggestions or advise.


  11. paul greville says:

    the problem i have is the slide comes back to hard hits the stop splats the buffer and loosens the screw that holds the rail on this happens after only a few shots both my guns do this i shoot metalic silhouette and i need the sights to stay put

  12. Aaron Kelcy says:

    My Buck Mark is sitting in its box exactly like the picture above. I made the mistake of breaking it down and that damn c-clip disappeared into thin air. Never even knew it existed until I googled a how-to video for putting the gun back together. First thing the video said, DO NOT… I’m going to order a few c-clips for the next time and the next time and the next time.

  13. paul greville says:

    is there a harder recoil spring avilable for the buckmark as the standard one is way to soft

  14. mike hall says:

    So glad to have found this information. I have been frustrated trying to reassemble my Buckmark after cleaning. I always do a field strip and cleaning after use and that is probably from my childhood where if I did not properly clean my guns my father would take them away from me – I am 70 years old now but I think that is why I have family guns that are still functional, rust free and operational despite that some are over 100 years old.
    Back to the Buckmark – a friend and I bought identical pistols last year, 2017, and both of us have the problem you described – an absent “C” clamp at the end of the recoil spring that makes reassembly a difficult task. Do you think that the new models are made that way purposely and that is why Browning suggests not to field strip them? I don’t see how you can clean them properly without doing that – additionally it means cleaning the barrel must be done from the muzzle end; a process that is almost never recommended.

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