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Old 09-21-2012, 11:36 AM
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Question 686 w/ adjustable front sight

I just picked up a 686-5 with a six inch barrel and an adjustable front sight. The sight has four 'clicks' to choose from. Can anyone tell me about this sight? Like how common, why it exists, any added value to gun, etc?
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:54 AM
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That gun was sort of purpose-built for the then-popular sport of PPC, the target game that developed out of Police Target training. It was shot on man/torso targets at 7 1/2, 15, 25 and 50 yards (or reduced targets for a second round at 25.) Hence the 4 position front sight. The heavy barrel with underlug was developed by Colt for the Python and was "perfected" by Smith. It aided in keeping the gun on target during the rapid fire needed for the event. My shooting partner had one and did quite well with it back then.

Froggie

PS This was a very popular event for a while, and custom gunsmiths built "Smolts" using Python barrels on Model 15s, or just put custom bull barrels on. There were all sorts of weighted underlugs, ribs with sights, slicked up hammers and triggers, etc, etc. Smith really read the market right that time, and introduced the 586/686 line for a stronger-than-Model 19 357 Mag, and were right in the perfect position to add the front sight and make your "factory custom" that could be used to compete right out of the box.

Last edited by Green Frog; 09-21-2012 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:03 PM
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They were made for the now almost dormant sport of metallic silhouette shooting where steel targets having the profile of different game animals were shot at from four different yardages, with the targets becoming larger and heavier as the yardage increased. The idea was that by simply moving the front sight, a shooter could have the same sight picture for all four targets.

Setting it is easily done but I forget if you go from short yardage to long or vice-versa. You could zero the gun at 25 yards with the front sight all the way up and then repeat the process at 50, 75 and 100 yards, each time moving the front sight down one notch and adjusting it to a perfect zero. Or it might have been start at 100 and move it up each time.

In a perfect world, once zero was found for one yardage, the rear sight did not have to be adjusted.

Ed

I just read frog's post and have to disagree. I shot PPC many years ago and the yardage variation was so small - 7 to 25 yards - that sight adjustments not only were not needed, we never had time to play around with sights between relays. You sighted your gun in at 25 yards and "pointed" the closer targets, which were life-size human silhouettes.

Last edited by AveragEd; 09-21-2012 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:04 PM
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Yes they are called a silhouette Model and they are quite rare because they were sort of a special build. I had a 586 model with the adjustable front sight with 8 3/8 inch barrel and I sold it. They are also popular with hunters who use the pistol to hunt with and can set the sights for several different distances.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:33 PM
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AveragEd,

The old PPC shooters here in VA will be very surprised to read what you said. They ignorantly used the adjustable front sight for PPC, and of course, many purpose-built PPC guns had an Aristocrat™ rib with a multi-click front sight (that's what my Schmidt Short Cylinder gun used) and the clicks made it possible to make instant changes for range, which most of us did. I was never a top-of-the-heap competitor by a long stretch, but I was always willing to take whatever help the rules allowed. I don't know which application was the "planned" one for the adjustable front sight model, but it sure worked well for PPC here!

Respectfully,
Froggie

PS fyimo, the 6" adjustable sight version of the 686 was fairly common around here. Maybe this was not the case for the longer barrel version, but it would not have been legal for PPC use anyway because of the 6" maximum barrel rule.

Last edited by Green Frog; 09-21-2012 at 12:36 PM. Reason: Add PS
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:50 PM
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Thanks for the replies! I thought the silhouette thing might have been the answer but wasn't sure. I don't plan to sell it but it's always nice to know what your gun is worth! I wonder how many were made? Probably no definitive answer on that one.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:41 PM
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Froggie, there obviously were different methods of shooting Practical Police Courses of fire. I may stand corrected and appreciate your tactful manner of pointing that out.

In fact, the first time I shot in a match, I was a sub for a shooter who couldn't attend that shoot, which was a regular shoot plus a make-up one. I didn't expect to do well and took two guns along just to play around with them but I came in second in both matches with a pair of 297s. I was accustomed to shooting bullseye targets at 25 yards so those huge silhouettes looked, well, huge - at seven yards, they were downright enormous!

I'm sure you'll roll your eyes over this part - one gun I shot was a 6" Python and the other was an 8-3/8" Model 14! No one, even the shooters for the other team (which lost both matches), mentioned the M14's barrel length! I didn't have a holster for the M14 (and no one told me I would have to draw my firearm) so I used the holster for my Python.

After a few more good substitute appearances, I was asked to join the team and my 4" Model 66 eventually became my "regular" PPC gun. It balanced great and was easier to draw than my longer-barreled revolvers. Of course, it still possesses both qualities.

If PPC was still alive and well around here, I'm sure I would be the only guy on the line with a revolver - if they still allowed them. In fact, we moved in February of 2011 and I discovered a nice indoor handgun range less than a mile away, so I applied for membership, the process for which included attending a meeting and demonstrating proficiency with a handgun. I was the only one of 14 applicants who used a revolver (a 4" 617-0) and when I laid it on the shooting bench, it drew a lot of looks from just about everyone. I swear that some of the younger guys never saw a revolver in the flesh before!

Ed
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:39 PM
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I fear we're showing our respective ages, AveragEd. The PPC game was of course developed for LEOs, but got a pretty enthusiastic following here in the civilian community as well. Some of those guys involved in it were rabid in their participation, and as with all things, competition bred spending! Some of the guns that showed up were pure "race guns" with only limited usefulness "on the street." The closest non-PPC revolvers were those developed for the Steel Challenge, the Bianchi Cup, etc.

IIRC, the standard course of fire was 60 rounds, starting with 12 at 7.5 yards, then another 12 at 15. Then the targets were moved back to 25 yards and we shot 24(?) at that range (it seems barricades and weak hand shooting may have been involved - or maybe that didn't happen until 50 yards?) then the rest of the course of fire was at 50 yds (outdoors) or 25 yds on a reduced target. The center of center of mass was a 10-X so a perfect score was 600, 60-X. All sequences were shot from a start with 6 in the gun (revolver or pistol) with mandatory reloads every 6 rounds. It's been many years since I shot this event, but that's generally the way it was done, allowing slight discrepancies for aged amphibian memory!

Back to the OP's question, we thought the 6" Model 686 with adjustable front sight was specifically designed to fill the needs of this game, and whether it was or wasn't, there were a bunch of them sold in these parts for that purpose. I can see how the silhouette boys would have glommed onto them as well, so I am a little surprised to hear that they are regarded as relatively rare. Seems like they were pretty common around here.

I would definitely stand behind my contention that the 581/681/586/686 series was developed in response to the market wanting something a little heavier than a K-frame but not so big as a N-frame. The "Smolts" and "Cougers" from the custom shops showed there was a market for them. Thus ends my hop down memory lane!

Regards,
Froggie
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:31 PM
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What a blast from the past. Back in the 70s the local guys in our club got up a PPC team. Most guns used were 6" model 14s and 19s. I was the exception with my old 5" model 27. It was all I had at the time. We thought we were getting pretty good and challenged the local PD team. We got waxed. Their top shooter used a modified Security Six. Thanks for the flashback. If I were to shoot a match today, AveragEd would have revolver company.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:46 AM
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Our PPC courses were mostly indoor and the leagues ran during the winter. We shot strong hand standing at 25 yards, then went to barricades and strong hand, weak hand from 20 (I think), 15 and seven yards, all at the same standard silhouette target. Our matches were 30 rounds with 300 being a perfect score.

This does take me back in time! I think I shot PPC in the late 70s and early 80s. I wish we stil had some PPC leagues around here as I enjoyed those matches a lot.

Ed
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:25 AM
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I bought a 6in 686-0 silhouette unfired in the box for 425.00 about a month ago. It shot great until i fired some hot 125gr (flamethrowers) through her. The cylinder would bind after the second shot. I found out they did a recall back in the Late 80s or early 90s. I called S&W and they paid shipping both ways!! The gun runs flawless. I had the gun back less than 2 weeks after i shipped it.
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Old 09-22-2012, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 21tango View Post
I bought a 6in 686-0 silhouette unfired in the box for 425.00 about a month ago. It shot great until i fired some hot 125gr (flamethrowers) through her. The cylinder would bind after the second shot. I found out they did a recall back in the Late 80s or early 90s. I called S&W and they paid shipping both ways!! The gun runs flawless. I had the gun back less than 2 weeks after i shipped it.
Color me (frog) green with envy!! You got a great one and it's now in the best possible configuration. I don't know how much you or I would use it in modern times taking advantage of that special front sight, but it wouldn't be in the way at all and always would be there if it were needed. Congratulations! I'm going to have to reevaluate my shopping/searching list and put one of those on it!

Froggie

Froggie
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Old 09-22-2012, 08:19 AM
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Here's a PPC Model 10 and a 6 inch 686 that I used a bit for IHMSA:




The Aristocrat rib mentioned above has three settings, plus the "regular sight adjustments. But it's all on the back end.

And a semi-retired silhouette revolver:



In actual fact I liked my adjustable front sight 29-5 more for Field Pistol class. I found a range that still shoots IHMSA matches. Might have to jump back in. Great "instant gratification" game played at "silly" distances and less than warp speed. As long as you don't mind the misses it's great fun!
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:08 AM
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Jaymoore, mine looks just like your semi retired one in the pic, but it had a set of factory pachmyers (sp?) on it. What dash is yours, if you don't mind me asking?
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MountainSmith View Post
Jaymoore, mine looks just like your semi retired one in the pic, but it had a set of factory pachmyers (sp?) on it. What dash is yours, if you don't mind me asking?
I don't remember offhand. It and my record books are 30 miles + apart just now. I'd be surprised if it was later than a -2, though.
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