May 17, 2008

Smith & Wesson 686 Plus .357 Magnum 164194

In comparison to our test of the Alfa revolver, our session with the seven shot Smith & Wesson 686 Plus was uneventful. We loaded it, we fired it. Whatever adjustment to the sights was necessary was completed quickly and easily with a single screwdriver.


The single-action trigger was heavier than the Alfa’s. But before we knew it the shot was gone. The double-action trigger was better than the action we found on the Smith & Wesson 619 in our last test. The gun was very well balanced, and despite the exposed backstrap of the rubber Hogue Monogrip the level of comfort and control was all we could ask for.


The ejector rod played a part in lockup and the ejector star was kept from turning by meshing with the outline of each chamber. This did away with the need for anchoring pins pressed into the cylinder face that can break off. The cylinder latch was contoured and taking a further cue from custom gunsmiths its surface was finely checkered for a sure grip.

Consistent, accurate, and packed with seven rounds of either .38 Special or .357 Magnum, this gun is a top revolver choice.


The sides of this stainless steel revolver were brushed in an understated manner and the top strap was treated to a matte finish to reduce glare. Originally, a sister model offered in blue steel was dubbed the 586. Today, the 586 is available as a special ported model only.


At the range we saw that the sights were sturdy and clear. The white outline on the rear sight notch wasn’t really noticeable, and not one of our staff really remembered it being there until after they had shot. Accuracy from the bench shooting the .38 Special Black Hills 148-grain Match Wadcutter rounds was outstanding. One group barely measured an inch across. Our average group size measured 1.2 inches center to center.

The ratchets on the star were machined to mesh smoothly in and out of contact with the hand. The cylinder latch was contoured and checkered.


The Black Hills 125-grain JHP .357 Magnum ammunition proved nearly as consistent as the light recoiling wadcutters. But the range in group size was measured to be between 1.7 inches to 2.0 inches. Firing the American Eagle rounds manufactured by Federal produced the largest groups, but a 25-yard average size group of 2.3 inches packed with about 550 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy would be the envy of many other handguns.


In our August 2006 test of .357 Magnum Service revolvers the Smith & Wesson model 619 was bested by the Taurus and Ruger products. The M619 had its advantages, lower cost, indestructible sights, and the ability to shoot the American Eagle 158-grain JSP rounds better than its competitors.

The rear sight provided an excellent sight picture. The hammer tang was short, sturdy and checkered for a sure grip.


But in the case of the 686 Plus, we felt that adjustable sights and an ejector rod protected from damage were important issues that besides superior accuracy put it ahead of the 619, in our opinion. The 686 Plus is more expensive than the others (by about $160 on average). But it also carries an extra round, and the action was very good.


The Ruger GP100 may have made the hottest magnum rounds easier to handle, but based on accuracy alone the 686 Plus might have landed on top in our previous test.

Comments (15)

I am considering a 686 plus w/ a 2.5" barrel. Is this going to be reasonably concealable? I am tired of my Walther failing at the range and don't want that to happen in the real world. I would appreciate some feedback.

Posted by: crish | February 23, 2013 10:16 AM    Report this comment

I love 686

Posted by: Ernie3417 | December 30, 2012 6:32 PM    Report this comment

Interested in a S&W 686, but hear the new models with Internal Lock can lock up. To what extent has this proven to be a real problem? When were the 686 models last made without the internal locks?

Posted by: Fisher | February 10, 2012 10:19 PM    Report this comment

Interested in a S&W 686, but hear the new models with Internal Lock can lock up. To what extent has this proven to be a real problem? When were the 686 models last made without the internal locks?

Posted by: Fisher | February 10, 2012 10:11 PM    Report this comment

i bought a 686 plus w/ 6' barrel. Shoots easy, feels right in the hands.

Posted by: Frameman | January 9, 2012 9:30 PM    Report this comment

I bought my 686 about 4 months ago and am extremely happy with it. It is a custom 3" barrel with nice wood grips

Posted by: wharfrat1940 | April 23, 2010 6:25 PM    Report this comment

Is the 686SSR ony have a 4" barrel?

Posted by: MLGLAW | June 26, 2008 2:53 PM    Report this comment

I have been interested in purchasing this particular firerm for some time now.I can't reall reading a negative review.Any idea as to where to make a purchase?

Posted by: sdelane1 | May 31, 2008 7:30 PM    Report this comment

I got my 686+ summer '07 and I love it. I can hit golf balls at 20 yards with it. I always get a "WOW" when I am at the range.

Posted by: Michael P | May 15, 2008 8:53 PM    Report this comment

Got mine several years ago when it first came out. It's my favorite gun to take to the range.

Posted by: wkmarsh | May 13, 2008 3:49 PM    Report this comment

I love my 686+, but don't think I'd ever try and carry it ... I'm guessing a shoulder holster .. or moving to a state where they allow open carry ... a fantastic gun, well worth the extra charge, accurate, easy to shoot and heavy enough to absorb the recoil of even full-power .357 rounds.

Posted by: BILL S | May 13, 2008 12:12 PM    Report this comment

I have had my 6 shot 686 for 15-20 years. It is one of the best shooting pistols I have owned. Best carry option, buy a 642.

Posted by: Robert J | May 8, 2008 7:07 AM    Report this comment

A shoulder holster would seem to be a good bet to carry this monster. I also, have owned mine for over a year and I never intend to get rid of it. It is one sweet shooting revolver.

Posted by: Larry2 | May 7, 2008 7:00 PM    Report this comment

I've had mine for over a year now, and it is the most accurate pistol I own.

Posted by: DANIEL D. M | May 7, 2008 4:36 PM    Report this comment

what's the right carry solution for this gun?

Posted by: Tim C | May 6, 2008 9:35 PM    Report this comment

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