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  #1  
Old 01-22-2012, 03:06 AM
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Default 686 3" or 4"

What a great site! I've been lurking for some time and have learned a lot about S&W's. I have a decent gun collection, but it is seriously lacking when it comes to the revolver dept. After all the lurking I have done on this site, I have concluded that a 686 is in the near future for me. I am just having a problem deciding between a 3" or a 4". I am mostly interested in how each of them balance and how comfortable to shoot. Any input would be appreciated!
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Old 01-22-2012, 03:50 AM
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I chose the 4" myself. There is a slight difference in kick, but I felt I was more accurate with the longer sight. That could be completely psychological, I dunno. But I am happy with it!!
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:12 AM
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I don't think you could go wrong with either or both. I have a snub nose and a 4" and both are very nice shooters. And will get a 3" someday.
You would have to look hard for some negative comments about the M686 other than some guys don't like the full lug barrel.
Good luck with your choice.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:31 AM
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The snubbies are in somewhat of a resurgence these days, but I expect that will fade a bit. I like the 4" as the shortest revolver I'll have.

Skeeter Skelton felt something similar, as I recall, in pointing out that sight radius much below 4" rendered sight alignment much more critical (or magnified slight errors much more, however you want to look at it). Accuracy takes a hit. As to portability, he also made the point that a 4" revolver is just as easy to conceal as a 2 1/2" revolver - the hard part here is the butt end not the barrel. Finally, the short revolver is more difficult to control.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:01 AM
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I went for the 3 inch model. If I had wanted a 4 incher, I would have bought a M10 or 64, since I shoot .38 Special. I looked for a 3 inch K frame, and no luck. I did find a couple of M65's with bids over $1000 on Gunbroker, but the bids didn't even meet the reserve price. I wanted a shooter in very nice condition, not a safe queen! So I bought a new 3 inch 686 plus. The weight is very near the 4 inch K frame, less than an ounce difference, and the balance is just right. I don't think the sight radius is a factor for me, as I can see the sight pattern better than I can hold, without using a rest. The 3 inch model has the full length ejector rod, while the 2 1/2 inch doesn't. I hand load, and any velocity that I lose over the 4 inch model can be made up with a little extra powder, since the gun is Magnum rated. I just received a set of Kim Ahrends grips, and really like the combo. The gun is as accurate as I can tell. Looks good, also. As far as concealed carry goes, the extra inch does make a difference for me. I think it depends on body build and wardrobe. And the extra barrel length does make a difference in how high I need to lift my old arm to clear the high rise holster, also!

rat
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:04 AM
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Didn't know there were making the L-Frame in a 3", that's great news as I've always like that length barrel. I did have a 686+ in 2.5" and it wasn't too bad for CCW but the cylinder thickness is always a killer on a 6 shot revolver for IWB holsters.
I'd say 3" unless you want to hunt with the gun then most places have a 4" barrel limit so you'd need a 4" to hunt with.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:40 AM
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The 3 inch is a joy to shoot. Weight and balance are great in my opinion. Installing grips to your needs and liking will only improve the feel.

Be advised that finding holsters for barrel lengths other than 4 and 6 inch is a little more difficult. I own 3", 5", a d 7" revolvers. Most off the shelf holsters will have an extra inch of material, and custom holsters could have a little longer wait time.

Dauff
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:05 PM
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If you have one 686, a 4" is probably the best choice. The extra 2 oz over the 3" makes a nice balance with full-sized grips and helps a little with recoil control. Recoil is actually not bad with the stock grips (Hogue rubber) and even better with hand-filling Ahrends Tactical grips. It's a little nose-heavy for round butt grips, so I settled on the round-to-square Ahrends version.

The 3" would be perfect with round butt, or even boot grips. There's nothing wrong with the sight radius or recoil control, as witnessed by the Hickok45 video, whacking the gong at 80 yards. This one is on my short list, rather than the 2.5" with the half-length extractor.

Neither are well suited for IWB. The thick cylinder tends to stick in the holster due to belt tension needed to keep a 40 oz revolver from sagging. A pancake holster is about as good as it gets for concealment - I have an Alessi CQC. The grip is not a particular problems, since it's held in close. Nevertheless, a boot grip would be better, and an inch shorter would be less likely to peek below a cover garment. The 686 is only 3/8" thicker than a SIG, and doesn't bulge any more than that pistol in an IWB.

Why two? I bought .357 change parts for my Dillon 550B, and don't think I can shoot fast enough with one revolver
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neumann View Post
Why two? I bought .357 change parts for my Dillon 550B, and don't think I can shoot fast enough with one revolver
Not planning on two, just one for now, and for the same reason!

Also, I won't be using it for concealed carry, I've got that area covered. It will mostly be a range gun, and possibly an occasional trip to the mountains in my backyard as backup to my 45-70 lever gun. So concealment is not an issue.
Thanks!
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark1616 View Post
I chose the 4" myself. There is a slight difference in kick, but I felt I was more accurate with the longer sight. That could be completely psychological, I dunno. But I am happy with it!!
This has been my experience too. I don't use my 686 4" as my daily carry weapon but I enjoy shooting it more than any other gun I have owned for all of the reasons you mentioned. The 4" is a perfect balance of accuracy, weight and recoil for me and it is a pleasure to shoot.
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:44 PM
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I agree with most of the previous comments. You really can't go wrong with either 3" or 4" L frame. I own both and wouldn't want to part with either, but for a FIRST revolver (or if you could only have one) I'd probably go for 4" 686+. Balance is near perfect (for me), muzzle flash and recoil are slightly less than in a snubby, and holster choices are more plentiful. Also, since the 4" is more common, you will be able to get one for probably a couple hundred dollars less. If you are like the rest of us it won't be long before you have both, but I'd start with a 4".
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:49 PM
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If you aren't going to carry it CCW, get the 4". Better shooter, in my experience. I had a 3", 7-shot 686, and it was a great carry piece, but I shot the 4" more often. Why, again, did they NOT make the 586 in 3", and 7-shot?
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:51 PM
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If you decide to go with the 4 inch, take a look at the 686SSR. It has had some factory action work done, and uses a different main spring, that is 20% lighter. I also think the barrel is a little lighter than the regular 4 inch model. It was $50 more than my 3 inch 686 Plus at my gun store. The front sight is replaceable with out tools, a nice feature.

rat
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:57 PM
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The SSR is cool, but he can get a very nice pre-lock 686 4" for a lot less.
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:10 PM
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I have a 3 inch 686+ I bought after giving my 4 inch to my son. I had to special order it though. I see very little difference in accuracy and the 3 inch is a bit easier to carry. Can't go wrong with either.....
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:22 PM
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Default 4" IMO

Quote:
Originally Posted by rotax1 View Post
Not planning on two, just one for now, and for the same reason!

Also, I won't be using it for concealed carry, I've got that area covered. It will mostly be a range gun, and possibly an occasional trip to the mountains in my backyard as backup to my 45-70 lever gun. So concealment is not an issue.
Thanks!
This says it all IMO. 4" is the clear winner for what you are going for. Added weight plus the longer barrel will only increase your accuracy.

I have a 686+ in 4" and it is my favorite gun I own. It's a tack driver at the range and I too use it as my camping/hiking sidearm. Since you aren't planning on CCW with it, why not go with the longer barrel?
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:28 PM
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I have a 4" 686-3 (square butt), it is a bit muzzle heavy but a very sweet shooter. My next 686 will be a 3", 7 shot. I don't think you can go wring with either but if i were to only have one it would be a 4".
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:25 PM
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I couldn't decide so I got 1 of each.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:10 PM
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I couldn't decide so I got 1 of each.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:57 PM
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Can't go wrong with either gun. Had both the 3" and the 4". My son really wanted the 3", and I let him have it. Still have a couple of 4" seven shot that are my favorite revolvers.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:05 PM
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From what you've written, I'd suggest you look for a 4" 686. If you anticipate cc, the 3" will be a bit easier to carry, but only a bit. Personally I have always found the 4" 686 to be just about ideal for the range as well as the woods and fields. The one I currently own is just about the ideal .38/.357 revolver. There is not hardly anything one might do to make it a better revolver for any practical use. JMHO. Sincerely. brucev.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:24 PM
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I say get em both too. But then you might as well add in a 6" if you are worried about accuracy... I personally have a 6" and just ordered in this 3" from lew Horton.

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  #23  
Old 01-23-2012, 12:00 AM
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A four inch barrel will make for a better range gun.
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  #24  
Old 01-23-2012, 12:45 AM
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I like the 4" simply because it is the length I carried while at my first Police Department in 1985...(Yes we were just changing over to semi-auto's. We were authorized to carry 1911 types.)

I just shot my 586 today with my wife (She shot it as well.) Smooth as silk trigger very accurate. We were at my buddies private range and shooting at 25 yards, at two foot by 10 inch metal targets..it hit them every time smack in the center.

The only difference is a slight increase in weight and a little less muzzle flip...I didn't ask if you were thinking about carrying concealed?
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dauff1 View Post
The 3 inch is a joy to shoot. Weight and balance are great in my opinion. Installing grips to your needs and liking will only improve the feel.

Be advised that finding holsters for barrel lengths other than 4 and 6 inch is a little more difficult. I own 3", 5", a d 7" revolvers. Most off the shelf holsters will have an extra inch of material, and custom holsters could have a little longer wait time.

Dauff
My sentiments exactly! Well worth the wait on a custom from Lobo holsters IMO. Have a few 3" S&W's and all of them are extremely accurate for a semi snub. My old 66-2 will out shoot my pre lock 686 and is the most accurate of the bunch. I will say the most accurate centerfire I own is a 4" 586 in nickel. I can ring a 12x12 plate sandbagged at 100 yards with no problem on a regular basis if I'm having a good day and stayed away from the coffee. The 3''rs just feel so darn well balanced in my hand. Think that alone adds to their accuracy. Could be a mental thing but the targets don't lie. You really can't go wrong with either except if you plan on using it for hunting as you can wring a little extra velocity out of the 4". Also many states do not allow 3" revolvers.

After reading all of the posts like I should have the first time I'd go for a pre lock 4" 586 or 686. They can be had for less money than a new 3 or 4" revolver and are extremely accurate. The 3" revolvers are more expensive and for what you'd be using it for you would have the perfect barrel length. JMO
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:17 AM
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A big thanks to everyone for your input. It sounds like I will be happy either way, so I will let the local market decide which one to get. There is a gun show coming up on the 4th and I will keep my eye out at the gun stores in my area. Whichever I come across first for a good deal will be the one. Although, I would bet I will wind up with both and more eventually.
Thanks again!
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:58 PM
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I'd like to hop in if I could. I'm also trying to decide between a 3" and 4". I much prefer the balanced feel of the 3" but I want to make sure I'm aware of all it's peculiarities before I put my money down.

A previous post mentioned I will have to get a custom holster if I want one that fits correctly. Someone posted on the High Road board that HKS is my only speed loader option since the 3 model only comes with a 7-shot cylinder. I'll also have a conflict if I want to go IDPA shooting since they have a 6-shot maximum capacity.

Does the 3" 686 have any other oddities as compared to it's bigger 4" sibling? For example, the 3" Ruger GP100 has a pinned front sight and only one available aftermarket option as opposed to their 4 which has a slick, plunger-anchor mechanism.
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Old 01-31-2012, 09:13 PM
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I bought a 3" 686 on Sunday and sold my 4" 686 just tonight. The 3" is an awesome shooter - perfect balance and I can carry it very nicely. I'll admit that it hurt to let that 4" go though. I'll be up all night with remorse of some kind.
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Old 01-31-2012, 09:14 PM
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I really like the 4". Perfect balance between the attributes of the 6"
and 3". Love the balance vs weight vs recoil.

+1 on a no-dash to -4. You can find some great prices on some mightly fine older ones. I know I did!

Wouldn't mind all 3.
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:20 PM
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I was ready to get a 4 inch. There was a 4 inch and 3 inch at a gun show and I compared both of them. I ended up with the 3 inch as it felt balanced and just looked cool. It shoots awesome and is accurate. Personal preference.

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Old 02-01-2012, 10:35 PM
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That's a beauty!!
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Old 02-01-2012, 11:01 PM
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I ended up with the 3 inch as it felt balanced and just looked cool. It shoots awesome and is accurate.
Beautiful piece. Any second thoughts from a functionality point of view?
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:33 AM
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I like the shorter barrels for the guns that get carried in a holster. I think they clear leather faster and can get lead on the target a little faster. For revolvers that don't get carried I prefer a 6" barrel for the increased velocity.

Bill
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  #34  
Old 02-02-2012, 01:47 AM
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Those are some really nice factory grips on the 3 inch. I have a 4 inch 686-2 and waiting on a 21/2" -4 to come to the LGS from gunbroker deal. I am going to get a Lobo IWB holster made for carry it. I think you will enjoy the 3 inch.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbo38gn View Post
That's a beauty!!
Thank you sir!


Quote:
Originally Posted by pearsonm View Post
Beautiful piece. Any second thoughts from a functionality point of view?
Thanks. The gun holsters nicely - good to carry.
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:39 PM
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I have a 3" 686+ and I like it a lot. Carry it every day.
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Old 02-03-2012, 03:46 AM
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You really couldn't go wrong either way!!!
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:01 PM
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686-3 4" was my first Smith I bought. Love the gun.
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:20 PM
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Thinking about taking the plunge and getting a 686. Got enough Glocks for the moment, if you can ever get enough, and love them all but I've always wanted a good S&W .357. So, from the gist of this thread I'm getting 4" barrel from most everyone. Not much to be said about a 6" barrel. Now, considering that this will not be a carry gun would the 4" still be the one to get? Wouldn't there be greater accuracy with a 6"? Also, are most people buying the 686+? I'm so old school that a 7 shot revolver sounds so odd to me. All responses welcome. Thanks.
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:31 PM
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I bought the 4-inch 686+ because that's the minimum length barrel for handgun hunting big game in my state (WA). It also feels right to me.
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:35 PM
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If I could keep only one of my 686's, it would be the 3-inch'er. I like the 4", I like it a lot,
but all things considered, shooting, carrying etc. the 686+ (7 shot) would get the nod.
Not and easy choice really.



I did have one the older SSR's from 2008 (forged hammer & trigger), but sold it off last fall.
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:43 AM
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The more I read about the lock mechanism on the new Smiths the more concerned I get. I read the sticky on it and realize that a lot of purists don't like it. I don't particularly care for it either as far as looks go. However, my chief concern is if it's caused many "lock ups" of failures of any type. I don't need a pistol that won't shoot when I squeeze the trigger. What's the overall consensus on this? How far back in models do I have to go to get a 686 without it? Do I need to be looking for a used pistol at an upcoming gun show? Need some expert advice from you knowledgeable folks.
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Old 02-17-2012, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheel Fan View Post
I was ready to get a 4 inch. There was a 4 inch and 3 inch at a gun show and I compared both of them. I ended up with the 3 inch as it felt balanced and just looked cool. It shoots awesome and is accurate. Personal preference.

Beautiful piece!
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:09 AM
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Default 3" vs 4"

I had a 3" with the Talo grips that I sold to get the 4" version. Now I regret it. They're both outstanding guns, but the 3" just felt better in my hand, and I was just as accurate with it as the 4". I'm going to sell the 4" and go back. Wish I could afford to keep them both...
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