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Gun Stripping

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[cocks hammer] "That felt like 25. Gotta be able to do a .45 in 25. Did you time me?"
Frank Slade, Scent of a Woman

No, not that kind of stripping.

This is where a character disassembles a weapon, cleans it, and puts it back together. It comes in a number of varieties:

  • The character is undercover as an Arms Dealer and it's a test to see if they know their firearms by assembling a pistol. They may have to do it blindfolded.
  • The ability to strip and re-assemble a weapon blindfolded is regarded in Hollywood as a display of massive competence and familiarity. In real life, it just takes a little practice and isn't all that difficult.
  • They're just cleaning their weapons, a Boring, but Practical necessity for any gun wielder.
  • The character is an innocent who has been trained to be a killer and this scene is when The Cutie is truly broken.
  • A gun nut or elite soldier may show off his skills to his peers by timing himself.

Since weapons require regular maintenance, this could be regarded as Truth in Television. An increasingly common action-flick variant is to have a character partially disassemble an enemy's pistol while they're brandishing it. Can overlap with Gun Porn (though not in the way you'd normally expect with "stripping" and "porn"). Not to be confused with Extended Disarming.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • After being revived from a millennia-long sleep, Santana from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure picks up a gun, remarks how he's never seen a tool like this before, and takes it apart perfectly in seconds. Being a highly intelligent ancient superbeing certainly has its advantages.
  • Seen as part of a flashback in the first episode of Gunslinger Girl, where Henrietta spends an entire night disassembling and reassembling her pistol so that she can become familiar with how it works. Being freshly 'conditioned', she obeys her handler blindly and he ordered her to get familiar with the weapon quickly.
  • Nearly every night in Kino's Journey.
  • Gunsmith Cats: Obviously. Rally Vincent is the actual gunsmith of the titular pair, and so spends a lot of time doing this on-screen as a matter of course.
  • The protagonists of Noir clean their guns regularly. In the first episode, Kirika does this while talking to Mireille (with her eyes closed) and reveals that due to her amnesia, she has no idea where or how she learned to do this.
  • Tenma does this in Monster as part of his training.
  • Canaan is shown cleaning her handgun several times.
  • Honoka from The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye collects guns and loves to take them apart.
  • Axel Brodie does this to his gun/Duel Disk in an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
  • Riza Hawkeye of Fullmetal Alchemist cleans a blood-covered gun that was returned to her by Edward Elric.
  • Several characters do this in Phantom of Inferno. In fact, it was Cal quickly stripping and reassembling Reiji's rifle by instinct and experimentation that tipped him off to the fact that she's actually a genius prodigy.
  • For Sousuke Sagara in Full Metal Panic!, this is practically a hobby.
  • Lupin III: Lupin and Jigen are occasionally shown to do this, Jigen most often. One scene that shows the personalities of the cast: Lupin is flipping through random TV channels while slouching, Jigen is cleaning his gun, and Goemon is polishing his blade, while Fujiko walks in wearing a new dress.
    • After kidnapping "Headhunter's Daughter", in Lupin III: Dead or Alive, the crew are back at one of their hideouts, and Lupin can be seen cleaning his Walther, making sure it's ready for action.

    Comic Books 
  • In V for Vendetta, Fingerman Derek Almond cleans his gun with such fetishistic attention—and uses it to bully his wife—that he forgets to actually load it when called to a sighting of V. He pays the price for that.
  • During the Vietnam War, the first M-16's were giving American soldiers nightmares for their tendency to foul and jam at the worst possible moments in combat. When the US military finally faced reality about the problem, they ordered a redesign and in the meantime rushed as many cleaning kits as they could to the soldiers along with a comic book by Will Eisner to inform them of the need to regularly maintain the weapon and how.
  • Batman underwent the "undercover" variety, blindfold and all, in a story from the 1950s. Despite his legendary disdain for guns, he reassembled the gun in record time.
  • One of the Devil Due Publishing's G.I. Joe comics showcased how Conrad Hauser (a.k.a. "Duke") was enlisted on the titular black-ops team: by being given a debriefing with his future superior "Hawk" wherein he's told that he's been classified as "killed in action" and to be part of the team. As all of this is being said, Hawk is calmly putting together a handgun right in front of Duke, and it's fully reassembled, loaded, and cocked by the time Hawk is letting sink the "killed in action" part and has gotten to the "are you with us, yes or no?" question.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Forrest Gump assembling his rifle in basic training. And setting a new speed record in doing so.
  • Shoot 'Em Up has a scene where Smith drops his gun into a toilet bowl and has just a few minutes to strip and dry it before a hitman bursts through the door.
  • Major Payne enjoys hanging upside down, blindfolded, and trying to clean his gun before his nose starts to bleed.
  • In Die Another Day, Bond is cleaning his pistol in his office when he hears silenced gunshots outside, reassembles his pistol, and goes to see what's afoot. After Robinson is killed, and Bond shoots through M to get her captor, R steps through the furniture to reveal the whole scene has been a VR training session.
  • The comedy Johnny English features a scene where the main character, played by Rowan Atkinson, assembles a pistol. When he is done, he holds it up to show, however the trigger is missing.
  • From The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:
    • Blondie cleans his guns at one point. He has to finish before bandits enter his room.
    • Tuco does this also when assembling his hybrid pistol from several others.
  • Ice Station Zebra (1968). The soldiers are surprised when their Vietnam veteran platoon leader orders them to repeat a weapon stripping exercise blindfolded (even though this is a routine part of military training).
  • In the 1982 Ozploitation movie Turkey Shoot the female hunter is introduced assembling her Sniper Pistol blindfolded (in 32 seconds) while describing its capabilities to the other socialites taking part in Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.
  • In Layer Cake, Gene does this for the benefit of XXXX. He claims to do it blindfolded sometimes as a form of meditation.
  • In the Jackie Chan movie New Police Story, this comes up multiple times as a form of contest with one of the villains. Pretty much every time it happens it's for someone's life.
  • This happens in Wild Target when assassin Victor Maynard is trying to teach Tony the tricks of the trade. Surprisingly Tony manages to put the gun together... but only to have it fly apart when he picks it up.
  • Wax in From Paris with Love can strip a gun in the hands of someone else, while it's being pointed at him. He's that good. He also bypasses customs by transporting a stripped Mrs. Jones in energy-drink cans.
  • Wah Sing Ku of Lethal Weapon 4, one of Jet Li's few villain roles, can also do this, as demonstrated on Riggs' Beretta in that infamous scene.
  • In Scent of a Woman, Lt. Col. Frank Slade demonstrates this skill for Charlies Simms. In this case, Slade doesn't have to perform his feat blindfolded because he's already completely blind.
  • Faster. The unnamed hitman is seen doing this, and a deleted scene has him calling his girlfriend who is busy assembling an H&K submachine gun — a character-establishing scene for the original ending in which she is seen planning her own revenge against Driver.
  • Flight of the Intruder includes a scene where Tiger Cole carries on a casual conversation with Jake Grafton about why they aren't allowed to bomb the part of Hanoi where the North Vietnamese stockpile their Surface-to-Air Missiles, while he assembles a Colt M1911 that he was cleaning.
  • In Full Metal Jacket, Private Pyle's Sanity Slippage is hinted at by the way he talks through the reassembly of his rifle after disassembling it for cleaning.
  • The American. The protagonist is a contract killer and gunsmith who's given the job of building an automatic rifle that's meant to be carried in a small space. When he hands it to the client for evaluation in disassembled form, he's shown glancing at his watch to time how long it takes her to put it together.
  • In The Professional, Leon shows Mathilda how to disassemble a gun.
  • Combined with Deadly Graduation in the Korean movie Shiri. As part of the Training from Hell undergone by the North Korean assassins, cadets are paired up and each given a disassembled pistol. The first one to correctly assemble it must Shoot Your Mate.
  • Likewise in the 2017 Korean movie The Villainess. The first time, she assembles the weapon first but can't pull the trigger as she's an eight-year-old girl. Her mentor shoots the man for her but then says her life now belongs to him. As an adult assassin, she assembles the weapon first and shoots her classmate, who is revealed to be wearing a bulletproof vest.
  • The Bourne Identity. After knocking out two policemen who insist on seeing his papers, Bourne ends up with one of their pistols. Shocked but still acting according to his (unremembered) training, he strips the slide off the pistol before throwing it away.
  • In The Dark Knight, after Sal Maroni's goon tries to shoot him, Harvey Dent does this with the man's gun as he struts away from the man he just pulverized, over to Maroni and puts the now-disassembled weapon right in front of him.
    Dent: Carbon fiber, .28 caliber, made in China. If you want to kill a public servant, Mr. Maroni, I recommend you buy American.
  • In the South Korean gangster movie A Bittersweet Life (2005), Sun-woo goes to buy a handgun from an arms dealer working for a rival crime group. The dealer offers to show Sun-woo how to strip the handgun, demonstrating with his own weapon. While both weapons are partly disassembled, the dealer gets a phone call warning him who Sun-woo is, and both scramble to reassemble their guns so they can shoot the other.
  • Anthropoid has a scene in which one of the young women recruited into the plot grabs a pistol and field strips it, proving to her male counterparts that she's more than just eye candy.
  • Mars Attacks!: The Establishing Character Moment of Billy Bob and the rest of his family includes Billy putting together an M-14 while blindfolded. Although the rest of his family treats him as The Ace because he's currently serving in the military, the scene provides a very big clue about how much of a dim-witted idiot he is: even after some time practicing, he's only gone down three seconds of the two minutes he used to take to fully make the assembling, and this is still greatly celebrated by him and his dad.

  • In the Deathlands series, the companions' armorer, J.B. Dix, not only constantly strips and cleans his multitude of weapons, but he does it up to five times in sequence, and can tell at a single moment's notice when a gun is starting to wear and what exactly is wrong. And to top it all off, he knows by name almost every single make, model, and caliber of gun in circulation in Deathlands, as well as length of both gun and barrel, date of manufacture, and all specs by memory. Every other character does this regularly as well. Given the nature of The Deathlands, it's quite literally a matter of life and death at any given time.
  • The Bourne Identity. The doctor who rescues Bourne, having taken note of the amnesiac's old scars, gives him an automatic pistol and tells him to "break it down." Much to Bourne's surprise, he knows exactly how to do so.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry's friends do this, as does the protagonist himself on occasion. Justified, as their friendship with Harry often means they have to use those guns on a more regular basis than is entirely fair.
    • At one point, when two Knights of the Cross and two members of the Order of St. Giles are cleaning their weapons, Harry labels them all weapon nuts, directly calling out the gun nuts and then immediately noticing the Knights cleaning their swords.
  • In The Man Who Killed His Brother, Mick Axbrewder pops the cylinder out of a .38 revolver as if it were a magazine in a semi-auto.
  • In March Upcountry, Julian sets up a betting pool on his ability to strip a plasma rifle in 7 seconds. (Retrieving all the pieces, let alone reassembling it, takes considerably longer, as he didn't say he'd be able to do it neatly in seven seconds.)
  • In The Dark Tower novel The Drawing of the Three, the Gunslinger Roland takes apart and cleans his guns after losing some fingers to giant lobsters
    • "Break the machine, clean the machine."
  • In Mirror Dance a temporarily-amnesiac Miles Vorkosigan is tested by being given several disassembled weapons (including a stunner, a nerve disruptor, a plasma arc, and a projectile gun, along with a few extra parts). Not only does he quickly reassemble all four, but
    "You never pointed those at me or yourself while you were handling them," she observed curiously.
  • In A Piece Of Resistance by Clive Egleton, the protagonist strips down a hand grenade instead of the usual rifle or pistol. While the scene adds veracity to the setting, it only serves to contrast with an earlier scene where the same man uses a Soviet RPG launcher without any detailed description of how it works, showing the author is familiar with one weapon from his military service but not the other.
  • In Stalins Ghost, a character has to reassemble a damaged automatic pistol while Arkady Renko fights for his life against an assassin. He can't find a missing piece which means the weapon can't chamber another round once the first has been fired.
  • Spenser does this in one of his books (Widow's Walk?). He has just killed someone who was trying to kill him, but is feeling guilty about it, and is angsting a little while he cleans his gun.

    Live Action TV 
  • In one episode of Alias, Sydney witnesses a group of young children practicing assembling a pistol. It's clearly inferred that she did something similar in her past. You see, Daddy worked for the CIA...
  • Jo, from Eureka, is occasionally seen timing how long this takes her.
  • Danger 5: Future Badass Holly does the blindfold version while delivering exposition of how she came to be.
  • NCIS. In "Under Covers" Ziva mentions she cleans her weapon every day, even when it hasn't been fired.
  • In Burn Notice Fiona has to do this to prove her skills when pretending to be a kidnapper. Her response is to ask if she has to do it blindfolded. Team Westen is also occasionally shown doing this for normal maintenance purposes, as in the penultimate episode of season 1.
  • An early episode of Nikita has the latest batch of Division recruits, including Alex, being assigned to reassemble a stripped sub-machine gun blindfolded. They then have to strip them back down.
  • Two different episodes of Firefly show Jayne and Mal, respectively, stripping and cleaning their various firearms on the dining room table (leading to walking in on Mal and startling him). Jayne is also shown honing a combat knife.
  • Quantum Leap: Sam doesn't know how to field-strip an M-16. But he's leaped into Lee Harvey Oswald, who does.
  • Parodied in Community season 3 episode 6, when Troy and other Air Conditioning Repair School candidates race against each other, blindfolded, to repair broken A/C units.
  • Nolan in Defiance performs the combat version of the strip when a racist mine owner is about to shoot an alien boy dead. He reaches up and pulls out the weapon's slide before it can fire.
  • Haven: a character with Fake Memories has a disassembled gun on the table in front of her. When she sees someone being threatened, she automatically reassembles the gun and shoots without hesitation. This convinces her that there's something wrong with her memories since her current persona shouldn't have those skills.
  • The Blacklist: In "The Good Samaritan Killer," Reddington lays out an M1911 on a table and informs a hacker that field-stripping and reassembly will take about two minutes, and he had better transfer 500 million dollars in by the time Reddington's done.
  • On Private Benjamin (1981), in the first season finale when the girls are being tested at the end of basic training. While the tester is reading a card explaining she was being tested on this, Private Winter stripped and reassembled her rifle, then handed it back just as the tester said, "Go".
  • Luther. A pistol has been left at a murder scene to frame Luther, so he rubs it with a cloth in an attempt to remove his traces from the weapon. Alice Morgan rolls her eyes at his ineptness, takes the pistol off Luther, and does a more thorough job.
  • In a late 3rd Rock from the Sun episode, Sally shows off her military skills by disassembling then reassembling a gun in front of her boyfriend, a police officer. He responds by saying "Any time I've taken my gun apart, I had to buy a new gun."
  • In The Flash (2014), Captain Cold regularly takes apart and inspects his freeze ray. As a result, he knows how to repair it and he's memorized all the parts, so he can instantly tell if it has been sabotaged. At Cold's urging, his partner Heat Wave has started to do the same with his flamethrower.
  • Parodied in a segment of Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which a blindfolded Mike has to reassemble his field-stripped Robot Buddy Tom Servo. (Who is somehow still able to talk, despite being disassembled into his component parts on a table.)
  • The New Avengers. In "Target", Purdy's pistol jams in a Shooting Gallery so she has to strip it down and fix it before another robot target pops up.
  • Person of Interest.
    • In a flashback to when he was a government assassin, John Reese is shown doing this in a safehouse while he waits for extraction, likely to calm his nerves.
    Stanton: How many times are you gonna clean that thing?
    Reese: In the Army, they taught us the fastest way to get shot was to fail to clean your weapon.
    Stanton: In the Marines, they taught us the fastest way to clean your weapon was to shoot a couple people with it.
  • Happens several times in Supernatural, but Dean isn't happy to see Sam doing it in "Hello Cruel World", as Sam is being slowly driven insane by hallucinations.
    Hallucination-Lucifer: It ends when you can't take it anymore. I think that's why you were cleaning your guns.
  • Speer Und Er: When Speer first meets (then Chancellor) Hitler, the latter is busy disassembling and cleaning his sidearm, and only barely glances at the architectural plans for an upcoming rally he is supposed to evaluate before dismissing him.
  • Treadstone. As a Shoot Your Mate Deadly Graduation, two brainwashed CIA agents are given a disassembled pistol with one bullet and told that only one of them can leave the room alive. This involves brutal hand-to-hand combat as they try to stop the other from getting hold of the parts—at one point one man has assembled the gun only to find the other holding the bullet.
  • Wiseguy. A white supremacist organisation orders a shipment of Uzi submachine guns from undercover fed Vinnie Terranova. They're not happy to receive them stripped down in a huge pile of crates (ostensibly because The Mafia smuggles them that way, but actually because the feds have removed the ejector springs so they won't fire properly). When their leader complains, Vinnie quickly assembles one of them on the spot.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In GURPS: High-Tech the perk "Armorer's Gift" lets the character assemble or disassemble a gun in record time without even thinking. The extreme familiarity with guns helps if a weapon jams.
  • Warhammer 40,000: "Any Cadian who can't field-strip his own lasgun by the age of 10 was born on the wrong planet."
  • Feng Shui has a Gun Schtick called "Dismantle Gun" that allows gunmen to pull that Jet Li move from Lethal Weapon 4 on another guy's gun, using their Guns skill in place of Martial Arts. The Neat Freak gun schtick, which reduces the time needed to clear a jam, implies someone who does this quite regularly and otherwise knows how to take care of their guns.

  • Henry Reed's 1944 poem The Naming of Parts is about the never-ending training British army recruits underwent in identifying the parts, stripping down, cleaning, and re-assembling their weapons. (See Real Life, below). The poem's narrator is more interested in reminders of the peacetime world, such as flowers blooming around the barracks, whose lives are not regimented.
    To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
    We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
    We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
    To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
    Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
    And to-day we have naming of parts.

    Video Games 
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, The Boss uses this as a combat tactic, by disassembling her opponent's gun and throwing away the parts (spoilers, naturally). She later uses the same trick in her boss battle, although you can pick up the parts and put them back together.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Caesar claims to have helped a tribe to victory by teaching them how to strip and clean guns. Joshua "Burned Man" Graham also does this continuously in his conversations, to the point that it makes people wonder where he got all of those handguns.
  • An iPad app allows people to do this virtually with a variety of weapons.
    • It's now available as a free-to-play game on Steam, World of Guns: Gun Disassembly.
  • One scene in Galaxy Angel has Forte doing this with her revolver, while blindfolded. Ranpha tries to take one of the springs as a prank, but Forte quickly catches on.

    Web Comics 
  • In El Goonish Shive, Tedd likes to disassemble and reassemble his Transformation Ray Gun in order to make changes to it. Some times he forgets to zap himself back to normal first.
  • In this The Whiteboard strip Doc manages to field strip Jinx's marker before he even finishes saying "Let's have a look" between the first two frames, leaving a bewildered Jinx wondering how Doc managed it.
  • Grrl Power: One of the requirements for Sydney to achieve to be approved for gun use.
    Peggy: When you can name every part in that bag, tell me what they all do, build the gun from the detail strip, and in under thirty seconds field strip and reassemble it, then we'll see about getting you some ammo.

    Western Animation 
  • Spoofed in SpongeBob SquarePants: when Mrs. Puff is replaced by a Drill Sergeant Nasty, he asks SpongeBob to dismantle the boat and reassemble it. Somehow, he ends up with a working rocket.
  • An episode of Hercules: The Animated Series had Adonis, Icarus, and Hercules doing Spartan training, and part of the regime was to assemble a crossbow blindfolded.
  • An episode of The Venture Brothers has Sgt. Hatred try and teach Dean the Blindfolded method. It takes him a few hours, the trigger is in the muzzle, and he somehow managed to build the blindfold into the gun.

    Web Original 
  • Parodied in "Video Game High School" in which two dueling parties have to reassemble broken-down partial keyboards.

    Real Life 
  • Stripping a gun for cleaning is a necessary part of maintaining any firearm. If you shoot it, you will at some point need to swab the barrel, oil certain contact points, and perform various other maintenance tasks. This isn't necessarily limited to just the firearm- it is usually cheaper to replace a magazine spring or follower than to replace the magazine outright. Failure to maintain a firearm can lead to poor accuracy, improper function, and even damage to the gun.
    • The best example of the consequences of neglecting that kind of maintenance comes from the The Vietnam War when the M16 assault rifle was being newly issued. Not only were the troops falsely told by the military that the new rifles were "self-cleaning" and not taught how to clean their rifles, the design had been changed over Eugene Stoner's protestations to remove the chrome lining from the bore and barrel. The rifle was also issued with ammunition using the gunpowder formulated for the M14, which burned much dirtier in the M16's system. The result was a spate of filthy rifles failing to operate at the worst times, causing multiple casualties to be found with their rifles partially disassembled around them. An inquiry discovered the source of the problem and fixed it, resulting in the extremely reliable rifle that exists today, but it caused a permanently soured reputation for the platform.
  • In boot camp, you will be given a rifle around week 3. You will not be given so much as a single bullet until three weeks later. The intervening period is spent breaking it down, reassembling it, and breaking it down again. Rinse and repeat until you're ready to shove the bolt carrier up the Master Corporal's nose.
    • Being able to disassemble and/or clean a weapon while blindfolded is not just for show; apart from the fact that there will be situations where turning a light on while you field-strip and clean your weapon will attract unwanted attention, a soldier who is visually incapacitated (eye damage, sand in eyes from a desert theater, etc) can still be useful to his squadmates by unjamming or performing maintenance on their weapons while they focus on the enemy. Thus some military forces actually teach that skill.
  • Gun safety instructors are careful to remind their disciples they don't need to fully disassemble a gun, just separate bolt, barrel, stock for cleaning (in case of handguns: slide, barrel, mainspring), and they would better leave the more complex parts of the action like the trigger and hammer mechanism to the professional gunsmiths. This is the technical difference between "stripping" a gun and disassembling it - stripping allows access to ordinary maintenance points; disassembly involves taking every single part off the weapon. They might have seen some people whose triggers went off when the gun was pointed where it shouldn't be. Revolvers, in particular, are usually never meant to be stripped beyond maybe removing the cylinder and grip panels (depending on the construction of the gun) because their operation relies on the timing of many small parts that are easy to screw up if an untrained user fully takes apart the gun.
    • And also not to drown the parts in oil, which can cause it to collect dirt or sand and cause a jam.note 
  • Mila Kunis learned how to disassemble and reassemble an MP5K blindfolded while weapons training for her role as Mona Sax in Max Payne.
  • The American OSS had a test during training where the recruit during an obstacle course was faced with a box containing several disassembled firearms, all different models, and their ammunition all jumbled together. He had to assemble one firearm and the ammunition and use it during the course.


Video Example(s):


Giving the pistol back

After Yu Ominae takes down the CIA agents posing as ARCAM employees, the former takes the confiscated Glock 17 and strips it down by taking out the mag, slide and barrel out before he tosses the slide into the CIA agent's face.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / GunStripping

Media sources: