My impression of my new Smith and Wesson 686 Plus.
The Smith and Wesson 686 Plus is a seven-shot .357 Magnum/.38 Special single or double action revolver. The only difference between the standard 686 and the 686 Plus is that the 686 is a 6-shot and the Plus is a 7-shot. Mine is in the stainless steel finish and has a 6-inch barrel and a wooden grip. I purchased it new for $850 plus tax, but that’s partially due to the wooden grip and partially due to inflated gun prices under King Obama and Archduke Cuomo here in NY.
The standard version comes with a synthetic grip, which is also quite nice, but I really like the look and feel of this one. It also has a hardened steel hammer and trigger, which result in increased durability/longevity. To put it plainly, this is a handsome piece. It’s my first revolver/handgun, but it certainly is a nice one. It has a full lug underneath the barrel to protect the ejector rod, which also adds mass to the gun, making it even more fire-able. The stainless finish is very nice, and this gun plain looks and feels awesome. It’s slightly reminiscent of the famed Colt Python, in my opinion.
I just obtained this gun last week, and I’ve had it out to shoot twice, putting about 120 rounds of .357 Magnum (JSP and HP), .38 Special (LSWC), and .38 +P (Hornady Zombie Ammo!) through it with no misfires/hang-ups whatsoever.
In single action, I was able to consistently hit a pie plate at 30-50 yards, and in double action, I hit more accurately at about 20-30 yards. I have yet to try any longer range shooting, and I’m still not very well-practiced with this firearm. My father (who is a more experienced shooter than I by far) was able to shoot slightly better, but this gun has all the inherent accuracy one could ask for. The only thing that could increase the accuracy is more practice (which I plan to do plenty of!).
The only issue I had was that the spent shells of one type of ammunition (Magtech .357 magnum from Luckygunner.com) wouldn’t eject cleanly from the cylinders; they put up a fight. I had to really struggle with the ejector rod and then pull the casings out manually, which was very strange. I’m not sure exactly why it did this, but it was only that ammo which did it. Perhaps the shells just expanded more than they were supposed to. That particular ammo also fired quite dirtily, and covered the 686 with powder residue, so I wouldn’t necessarily suggest it for this revolver.
I purchased two HKS speed-loaders for it, and both work quite well with a bit of practice. I could fire the 21 rounds (one manually loaded cylinder, 2 speed-loaders) very quickly, and I had to be careful because of ammo prices!! I’d suggest these speed-loaders, though, if that’s your style.
The single action is really a hair trigger, and the double action is very smooth. I could fire it about as quickly as my father’s 9mm or a .380 (though with less accuracy). It feels quite good in the hand, and it feels so massive that the recoil is really minimal, even with magnums. This last aspect makes it ideal for a smaller person or maybe a small woman looking to fire good-sized revolver. I’m only about 5-feet, 11-inches and 185 pounds with slightly above average sized hands, and I can handle it with ease. It can be fired with one hand or two, and it just feels good to get that little bit of recoil; it lets me know I’m shooting something bigger than a 9mm! It performs well, fires nicely, and doesn’t beat up your hands too much.
This gun seems like a perfect second handgun (after a Glock, perhaps) for a survival situation. The ability to fire .357 Mags or .38 Specials makes it a versatile gun, capable of taking lots of game in North America (if you have to do any hunting with it) and it’s more than capable of taking care of human adversaries, I’d imagine (though I have no experience with that aspect of it, thank God). It is heavy and large, so I don’t know that it would be good for a BOB and it certainly isn’t CCW material, but in an OC state or post-SHTF, it would be quite intimidating in a hip holster.
It also isn’t likely to break anytime soon, and it’s a relatively simply mechanism, so not too much can go wrong with it. I think it’s a fine survival revolver, and with a shorter barrel it could easily go in a BOB.
The only thing I dislike at all (and it isn’t very much of a disliking!) is the front sight. The sights are a little large and feel clumsy to me, but I think it can be remedied by practice. The sights on a Ruger seem slightly better, but the S&W is better overall, in my opinion.
After handling several other similar revolvers, the S&W is hands-down the best in this price range. I looked at the Taurus 627, the Ruger SP101, and also the Ruger GP100. While the S&W is more expensive, it definitely feels superior (at least to me), although there’s certainly nothing wrong with Taurus or Ruger. There are no major design flaws with the 686, it feels incredibly solid, I foresee myself taking several deer with it, and I think I’ll be able to hand it down to my children who will hand it down to theirs as well. I would recommend this revolver to anyone looking at this sort of firearm with no hesitation. Good luck to all and thanks for reading!
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