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trouble disassembling M1A

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i'm having trouble disassembling a brand new SA M1A loaded. the operating rod won't remove from the guide tracks. the notch that i'm supposed to align with the rod tab isnt milled as deep as the guide track (about 1/2mm). also, the op rod rubs against the barrel, ever so slightly. is there a way to get the damn rod out without messing up the finish on my brand new rifle? i'd like to get this done myself without having to send it in, as i am leaving the country for a month within 3 weeks and want to shoot it before i leave.

edit: pics for visual reference.