November 2, 2008

Smith & Wesson 686 Plus .357 Magnum 164194

Higher priced than its competitors, but not prohibitively so, the 686 Plus nonetheless covered all the bases. Consistent, accurate, and packed with seven rounds of either .38 Special or .357 Magnum, this gun is a top revolver choice.

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

Smith & Wesson 686 Plus .357 Magnum

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Higher priced than its competitors, but not prohibitively so, the 686 Plus nonetheless covered all the bases. Consistent, accurate, and packed with seven rounds of either .38 Special or .357 Magnum, this gun is a top revolver choice.

contoured and taking a further cue from custom gunsmiths its surface was finely checkered for a sure grip. 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 Black Hills 125-grain JHP .357 Magnum ammunition proved nearly as consistent as the light recoiling wadcut

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Note the ratchets on the star. They were machined to mesh smoothly in and out of contact with the hand. The cylinder latch was contoured and checkered for sure grip. The finish was not flashy but it was appealing and durable. Seven shots are better than six.

ters. 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. 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.

Comments (23)

Too bad that Green Coffee Turd garbage hijacked the page.

Posted by: Bill in Colo | February 4, 2013 5:39 PM    Report this comment

DOES MODEL 686+ smith &wesson 357 magnum have a safety bar enabling person to carry 7 rounds safely by preventing the hammer from hitting the primer

Posted by: ZOOCH | November 29, 2012 9:42 PM    Report this comment

S&W 686 + in any size is an Awesome revolver. I have a 4" and recently acquired a 3" Deluxe Talo edition. I've spoken with people that call the S&W 686 the Cadillac of revolvers. All I know is, I really love shooting mine. 38 Special ammo of any grain is a breeze, even with the wood grip Deluxe with 3" barrel. Even with the lightest grain weight 357 rounds it's bearable, though the 4" with Hogue rubber grip is more comfortable. I have a model 629 3" barrel 44 Magnum, so the 357's are a piece of cake. The 44's a piece of cake compared to the 460V. I guess you could say it's all a matter of what you've grown accustomed to shooting. My S&W model 632 327magnum is actually very snappy as it is a J-frame model. In response to some complaints about S&W customer service. All I can say is: there is no limit to what they will do for you. Big powerful weapons have issues at times and I have used S&W customer service a few times. I have always come away with the best feeling about buying their products. Made in the USA and I find that they are all very accurate and well made pieces. Their service if needed is prompt and the reps have never been anything other than completely cooperative and wonderful; whether on the phone, or via email. Worth every cent in my opinion and the 686+ is one of the best all around weapons in a revolver available today. If you really want an awesome piece, look into the current model 627, 327 or the Performance Center model 27 of a few years back. These are all 8 round 357 revolvers! I have the PC27, new never shot yet.

Posted by: ThinkN_Do | March 17, 2012 3:30 AM    Report this comment

Just bought my first revolver (686+, 4", 7 shot, model 164194). Got a great deal from a great dealer in NJ. Can't wait to shoot it this weekend.

Posted by: shoot_the_walkers | March 13, 2012 1:47 PM    Report this comment

I have a 686 + with 3 inch barrel. Very good pistol. I sent it off to Magnaport for porting and an action job. Now it is a great revolver!

Posted by: Charlieb8 | January 15, 2012 11:17 AM    Report this comment

I have 9 Smith & Wessons 357 magnums. 586 and 686 Plus 2.4, 4, 6 inch in SS and blue. Even when the public turned on S&W whenit was British owned, I prooudly shot and bought S&W and it is the best buy I ever made. I have two custom made 686 Plus that is my dream gun. Thanks S&W. You're the best.

Posted by: Son of Liberty | September 9, 2011 8:09 PM    Report this comment

trying to decide between 686 6in or 686+ hunter09

Posted by: hunter09 | March 27, 2011 1:12 PM    Report this comment

trying to decide between 686 6in or 686+ hunter09

Posted by: hunter09 | March 27, 2011 1:12 PM    Report this comment

I am thinking about sending my pistol back into S&W for their $250 polish and customized package. Has anyone put their 686 through that? And if so, were you happy with the results?

Posted by: longprong | February 15, 2011 7:49 PM    Report this comment

I own the 686 plus 6" model and I have to boast that the day I brought it home my father and I took it out ot the range for a nice break in session. My uncle decided to come along with his arsenal of various wheeled guns dating from way back and all different makes. In light of making some interesting and harmless competition and had never shot my new 686 yet I decided to place a bet that I could tape two quarters to a paper target at 25 yds and take them out with my first two shots while using .357 ammo. If I missed I had to pay for all range time fees and the ammo fees as well, but I hit them dead on and continued with my remaining 5 rounds taking a quarter sized grouping out of the center of the target as well! I am forever proud of my purchase for such a great performance out of the box. Following my performance my uncle tried to match my accuracy with his taurus and his ruger .357's Not nearly as close. After about 30 rounds he settled for the check! haha

Posted by: Dmancu3772 | February 15, 2011 7:03 PM    Report this comment

the 686 plus is amazing I ditched a rossi 357 for the much more expensive smith and was happy to do so.

Posted by: cobra-j | November 27, 2010 5:33 PM    Report this comment

I own an older 686 plus with a 6" barrel. Need to find out the value to possibly sell. The revolver is blue steel and has seen some ware but has been kept cleaned and oiled since I have owned it. (about 3 years now)

Posted by: CarolinaScott | July 21, 2010 11:50 AM    Report this comment

Great question Viejo, I am currently in the market for a 686 and I wanted to know if the problems with cylinder spacing increased with the 686 Plus model (7 rounds) vs. the regular six round version?

Posted by: longprong | July 11, 2010 3:19 AM    Report this comment

Do Smith & Wesson revolvers require factory servicing? Ruger revolvers almost never need gunsmithing. I'm not sure about S&W revolvers; I've read reports that they need servicing and timing adjustments over time.

Posted by: Viejo | June 15, 2010 11:15 AM    Report this comment

Do Smith & Wesson revolvers require periodic factory servicing? Ruger almost never needs gunsmith work, not sure about S&W, I've read reports about S&W revolvers developing timing and other problems over time.

Posted by: Viejo | June 15, 2010 11:11 AM    Report this comment

My 686+ 6" was extremely accurate. The trigger on the plus seemed better than the 6 shot. A steady diet of .357 one summer caused the barrel cylinder gap to increase but no noticeable loss of accuracy. Break the barrel in and lead won't stick either. Unfortunately it has two rounds of copper plate wad cutter stuck in the bore and cylinder. My Fault. The gun never complained and does not appear to be damaged, only plugged. Looking for a local smith to drill it out. Won't trust Rainer loading data anymore. When the price stabilizes I'll probably get another. In the mean time I'll live with the 4" SSR. It just needs a couple thousand rounds of barrel conditioning.

Posted by: JOHN J | June 18, 2009 6:12 PM    Report this comment

Worked great the first 50 shots. Cylinder ruptured on 51. Firing factory-reloaded 357 rapidly, had a bit of a timing issue. The primer was struck far left side, bullet discharged into the side of the barrel. Smith refused to deal due to the ammo, even though the problem was visibly with the firearm.

Probably an isolated incident, but Smith has permanently lost my business, and I have dissuaded many from Smith purchases, as the customer service they provided was deplorable, right down to offering to sell me a replacement at a "discount" cost that was $15 more than my initial purchase, including tax. I bought another Ruger instead, and I'm happier for it.

Posted by: Jimmy V | May 7, 2009 9:09 PM    Report this comment

I recently purchased a used S&W 686 2.5" barrel with Hogue grips. I was amazed how accurate and how pleasant it was to shoot. The only other .357 wheelgun I've shot was a Ruger GP100 which was okay, but didn't entice me to buy one.

Posted by: Independent_Voice | February 12, 2009 11:04 AM    Report this comment

I went through my Police Academy in 1986 with a 4" 686, ... the only 'custom' eature were the Pachmeyer 'gripper' grips. I won the Top Gun award between two Class cycles - out shooting those Officers with autoloaders and wheelguns with tricked trigger jobs. Great, great handgun. Whether shooting the round-nosed 158 grain .38 cal lead bullets, ... to the fast 110 grain .357 FMJs, this weapon seemed to be an extension of my body, ... I hit all targets out to 30 yards as if I were merely pointing at them! Purchase this bad boy with confidence, ... you'll wear it out like favorite underwear. -Greg L.

Posted by: GREG L | February 5, 2009 8:44 AM    Report this comment

They are an accurate and durable revolver.
However, S&W needs to finally ditch the internal lock, or at least offer it as an option only.
There are enough documented reports of the lock failing and tying up guns to convince me that it needs to go.

Posted by: Mikarome | January 30, 2009 1:47 PM    Report this comment

I don't have a 686 plus but I have owned and carried on duty a 6" 686 since 1986 and have never owned or fired a more reliable or accurate handgun. I have several other 686's in different bbl lengths and a 6" 586 and they are just as good. I don't care for S&W autos but their wheelguns can't be beat. I have no doubt that the 686 plus is just as fine.

Posted by: Mystic Rebel | November 25, 2008 2:35 PM    Report this comment

I own a 686 plus with 6" barrel myself. It is my most accurate and favorite revolver.

Posted by: ALAN B | October 29, 2008 7:46 PM    Report this comment

The S&W 686 Plus is the best all-around, all-stainless steel revolver being made today. The 357 Magnum is the best all-around cartridge for everything from self-defensive to hunting all but the largest North Amarican game. I've owned mine for almost five years and it's still my favorite of the seven S&W revolvers I have.

Posted by: Wheelgun George | April 8, 2008 4:39 PM    Report this comment

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