March 2007

.357 Magnum Revolvers: S&WEasily Outdoes Czech Import

Comparing the $790 Smith & Wesson 686 Plus against the $419 Alfa Steel 357 proves you get what you pay for. The Plus also matches up well against other recently tested revolvers.

In our August 2006 issue we reviewed three different .357 Magnum revolvers with 4-inch barrels. The 4-inch magnum is the traditional configuration for the uniformed policeman, and despite the overload of semi-autos now available, the revolver is still a popular sidearm. Each of the guns in our first test, the $615 Ruger GP100, Taurusís $469 M66SS4, and the $646 Smith & Wesson Model 619 were made in the United States.

Since then we have come across a foreign made product that begs comparison to these guns. This was the Alfa Steel .357 Magnum manufactured in Czechoslovakia. We also decided to revisit the Smith & Wesson catalog and test the seven-shot model 686 Plus, catalog number 164194 ($790). Both guns featured a full underlug that enclosed the ejector rod and added recoil-opposing weight beneath the barrel. Each gun offered a ramped front sight with orange-colored insert and a rear sight that was adjustable for windage and elevation. Both guns used a flat-faced hammer and frame-mounted firing pin. Other similarities included finger-grooved grips and counter-clockwise rotation of the cylinder.

Letís see how well this newcomer stacks up against the field.

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