The pins are spring loaded. Press on the backside to release pressure on the clips. They should also move freely or with minor resistance. If you need a punch or hammer, not only are you a hack but something isn't seated properly. Start over. The supplied tool should be all you need for a basic breakdown. It's also good for removing Mosin stock bolts. As for it not racking, you were probably pretty pissed by the end and over tightened the charging bolt.