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S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present All NON-PINNED Barrels, the L-Frames, and the New Era Revolvers


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  #1  
Old 06-26-2022, 12:35 PM
My5HTS&W My5HTS&W is offline
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As the title says, looking into getting a S&W revolver. Open to your wisdom and guidance here. The revolver will be used at the range as well as home defense. What I have been considering is a 686 plus w/ 7 inch barrel. I was also very hot on the S&W 929 Performance Center, due to it being a 9mm(got decent amount of ammo and "cheaper"). The research on the 929 turned me off a bit. I read about people having difficulties with the 929, out of the box (requiring trigger job, etc) and a bit pricey too. I must say, I love the look of the longer barreled revolvers and as far as utility, I believe they'd have greater accuracy and less recoil. I would be shooting primarily .38 specials w/ the 686 plus. I looked into .38 special (only) revolvers and nothing tripped my trigger. A local gun shop told me it's a bad idea to purchase the 686 plus and shoot primarily .38 specials- for stated reason that shooting infrequent .357's would be problematic (due to sticking?). Do you think that the 686 plus is viable or do I have no business getting a .357? Anyone here have a 929 with an opinion? My reason for shying away from regular .357 is existing hearing loss and pretty bad Tinnitus- real loud at times(I'm sure most of you have it too!). Thank you all!
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Old 06-26-2022, 01:41 PM
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Shooting primarily .38 special in a .357 magnum is ONLY a problem if you’re allergic to cleaning it.
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Old 06-26-2022, 01:47 PM
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The 686+ is a fine weapon. In fact mine was my gateway to revolvers.

Recoil in an L frame is very tame with .38s regardless of barrel length. My 4 version has been easily manageable with everything Ive put in it (from light .38 wadcutters to hard cast 180gr Buffalo Bore bear loads)

Itd be my recommendation to anyone looking to dip their toe into the revolver world.
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Old 06-26-2022, 01:52 PM
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What Bumbus said.

I've been shooting 38 Specials in 357 S&W revolvers for almost 50 years. The milder report and recoil of 38 Special target loads make shooting much more fun and, if you're a reloader, economical.

Besides, paper targets and tin cans can't tell the difference between magnums and specials.

Load with 357s for familiarization at the range at the end of your shooting session, clean well, and then use your revolver for home defense with the magnum loads.
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Old 06-26-2022, 01:56 PM
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I have the ones mentioned above. The 929 has had some problematic extraction with some guns, because of the titanium cylinder. Some are OK, but you don't know which one you have till you shoot it.

You can't go wrong with the 686 of any version, or a 627, which is 8 shot 357. I shoot all kinds of ammo in mine, not a problem. If you shoot a shorter round, and you want to shoot a longer one, you simply clean the chambers first. I shoot 38 Short Colt, 38 Special, and 357 whenever I want to without any problems. Most are SC or Special target loads, as you don't need a 357 to punch paper with. The current 38 Special Self Defence loads are quite adequate for any SD application I can think of.

As for accuracy with a short round in a long chamber, I get tight groups with SC and Spl. in a 357 chamber. The reason is, there's a bullet sized throat at the front of the cylinder that lines up the bullet before it goes to the barrel.
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Old 06-26-2022, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by My5HTS&W View Post
A local gun shop told me it's a bad idea to purchase the 686 plus and shoot primarily .38 specials- for stated reason that shooting infrequent .357's would be problematic (due to sticking?).
As we didn't hear precisely what was said or how they said it, it's hard to jump on them too much. Things get lost in translation.

Here is a scenario...

If you buy a .357 Magnum revolver and you then proceed to use it repeatedly with .38 Special ammo, especially if it happens to be lead bullet (not jacketed or plated) .38 Special ammo, AND if this ammo is quite dirty AND if you neglect to clean the revolver and this dirty ammo, powder soot, bullet lube and shaved lead are allowed to pile up endlessly AND THEN you attempt to load it one day with .357 Magnum ammo...

Then yes

it is possible that you may experience difficult chambering of this ammo. You might also see increased pressure if you have lead buildup in your bore. You may experience difficult extraction of the .357 brass wholly related to all of the above.

Realistically in the real world, this ".38's gum up .357 revolvers" may be one of the cheapest and lamest things passed down from generations that just barely exists in normal practice.

I got my first .357 revolver in 1989 and for the first 20 years, my ratio of .38/.357 across all my revolvers was probably 90% to 10% in favor of the .38 Special.

I never experience this damn near ridiculous old wive's tale that gets passed around daily on the internet and apparently now by salesmen in gun stores.

Just being aware of the minute possibility already puts you in a position to combat the tiny chance you might EVER experience this whole lot of nuthin'.
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Old 06-26-2022, 02:39 PM
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The long barrel 686 is great for your purpose, but it's weight is tiring for long range sessions.
The 5" 686+ Performance Center has the slab-side barrel, bringing it's weight down to that of the standard 4"686, a good weight for range work. Plus, the PC comes setup with target shooting grips, and smoother action.



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Old 06-26-2022, 02:50 PM
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52y/o 15-3 with probably 6 digits rounds through it is as close to a do everything revolver as I have. Joe
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Old 06-26-2022, 02:54 PM
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Why are you considering a 7" barrel? I'd go with a 3" barrel in the 686+ and use .357mag rounds for "short barrels." I personally own the 2 1/2" model and it is a great gun.
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Old 06-26-2022, 03:08 PM
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My limited observation has been that one gets higher velocity from a given .38 Spl cartridge in a .38 Spl chamber than in a .357 Mag chamber. Whether this matters is a whole 'nother issue, since if you cared about velocity you might be using .357, not .38.

For your stated purposes, your choice is probably appropriate. If you like the weight and balance of the revolver, it is probably the best choice. Recoil is unlikely to be an issue, whether you choose a 15 (probably my choice, because of smaller hands, and satisfaction with the weight of the 15) or a 686, which can only be even better on the recoil question, if you even considered it a question.

Your LGS was not wrong to bring up the cleaning question. Bumpus13 (post #2) answered it.

Pick what feels best to you, and you don't even need to fire it to decide.
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Old 06-26-2022, 03:20 PM
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Thanks for the responses here! Very helpful. The shop owner didn't go into detail about why the .357 might be problematic, beyond his point that it would stick. What I've read from other sources is mostly what's conveyed here- the importance of keeping the cylinder holes clean. Which I absolutely plan to.
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Old 06-26-2022, 03:42 PM
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A 686 is good choice. Maybe the best choice. I think I would try handling a few different barrel sizes in the gun stores, but expect a 6 or 7 inch would be good. A 3" is good for carry.
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Old 06-26-2022, 04:11 PM
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The L frames are hard to beat. They have the K frame grip, with added weight and strength for the .357 Magnum. as to shooting .38s in a .357, I have probably shot thousands of .38s for every .357 round I have shot through mine, just clean the chambers thoroughly and you will have no problems inserting and firing .357s.
Be aware that the 130 grain factory practice loads you find are not fully jacketed and will leave a lead ring in the chambers. Remington and Winchester are the worst, so I avoid them when possible. For myself, I see little need to spend extra money for jacketed bullets for handgun use when lead bullets shoot very well at less cost. YMMV :-)
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Old 06-26-2022, 04:51 PM
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686 plus. 7 rounds. 3 barrel. One of my favorites.
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Old 06-26-2022, 05:42 PM
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The 686 is the gold standard in modern 357 mag revolvers. Mine is a -4, 7 shot, 6" and it's not tiring at all to run a hundred rounds through. Were I limited to 1 revolver, it would be a top contender.
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Old 06-26-2022, 09:03 PM
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Yes... 'The 686 is the gold standard in modern 357 mag revolvers.' All so true. I have three-barrel lengths 6, 4 and 2.5. The best there is. Not sure why a 7" barrel is your fancy, kinda long. Go to a gun range and try all types first.

But enjoy the shooting.





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Old 06-26-2022, 09:50 PM
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I have a 3, 4, and 6 inch 686. All of them are wonderful revolvers. About as good an all around revolver as you will find. Good luck on your decision!
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Old 06-26-2022, 11:39 PM
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I would go with a 627 over the 686 + because of the extra shot. For plinking it's not much of a difference but if you ever decide to compete that extra shot makes a big difference.

I've had two 929s. One I blew up with a double charge but I leaned to use only Winchester brass in it and I had no problems with extraction. My second 929 was great. Yes, it needed a trigger job but I do those myself so other than the cost of new spring it wasn't bad.

Just the opinion of an old shooter.
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Old 06-27-2022, 07:14 AM
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My advice is:

Get a new 586 Classic in 6 inch.

Buy an Allen suede gun case.

At the range or at home, use 38 wadcutters.

Clean with Ballistol and a bore snake.

Enjoy
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Old 06-27-2022, 08:55 AM
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Rent one at a range or go shooting with a friend who has one. Try out as many as you can in the frame sizes, barrel lengths and calibers you're considering. I never worried about the .38 in a .357 question. I'd say the majority of .357 revolvers have far more .38 rounds fired through them than magnums. Not an issue if the revolver is kept clean as many have already said. Good luck with your choice. And you won't be alone if you end up buying two or three more later on!
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Old 07-01-2022, 10:00 PM
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Either an L frame 686+ or a K frame model 66-8 which is a 6 shot 357 Mag.
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Old 07-01-2022, 10:36 PM
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I would suggest a 686+ in 3,4 or 6" barrel length, ditto if you run into an N frame you like. I've never cared for the lengths beyond 6" in any frame. You should have no problem with .38's if you do a minimum of cleaning, and really .38 may fill all your needs.
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Old 07-02-2022, 06:42 AM
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Seven inch barrel in the 686, does such a configuration even exist?

IMHO the 586/686 is the ultimate revolver.
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Old 07-02-2022, 06:57 AM
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I don't have a 686 yet, but love my 586-4... the 686 7" will give you great target practice.
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Old 07-03-2022, 02:13 PM
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Thanks for all of the responses here. I did end of getting the 686 + 7 inch. I've been trying to figure out (thread/internet searches) what ammo I should be shooting, in terms of .38 spl and 357 mag. Mostly outdoor target shooting, some indoor shooting, paper/metal targets. Having never fired a 357 mag round, I'd like to start with something that might be lower on the recoil side. I did pick up some ammo locally:

PMC Bronze .38 spl 132 gr 917 FPS
HSM Cowboy Action 357 Mag 158 gr SWC
Remington 357 Mag 125 gr SJHP 1450 FPS

Good choices? Bad choices? Any other ammo recommendations for my 686 +? I'll post a few pics of 686 + within the next few days. Thank you all again!
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Old 07-03-2022, 02:22 PM
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The better question is what are shooting Now?
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Old 07-03-2022, 08:09 PM
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The " Cowboy Action " .357 is essentially a .38Special loaded in a .357 case ( because they feed better in some lever action rifles ) . The R-P 125 JHP is the quintessential Full Power Duty/ Defense load from back in the Revolver Era .

If YOU like the balance and weight of the 7 inch , good for you and enjoy !
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Old 07-04-2022, 07:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by My5HTS&W View Post
Thanks for all of the responses here. I did end of getting the 686 + 7 inch. I've been trying to figure out (thread/internet searches) what ammo I should be shooting, in terms of .38 spl and 357 mag. Mostly outdoor target shooting, some indoor shooting, paper/metal targets. Having never fired a 357 mag round, I'd like to start with something that might be lower on the recoil side. I did pick up some ammo locally:

PMC Bronze .38 spl 132 gr 917 FPS
HSM Cowboy Action 357 Mag 158 gr SWC
Remington 357 Mag 125 gr SJHP 1450 FPS

Good choices? Bad choices? Any other ammo recommendations for my 686 +? I'll post a few pics of 686 + within the next few days. Thank you all again!
You have a whole range there, mild to wild. You could work right up that ladder as listed. The 125gr have a reputation for forcing cone erosion (in K frames, anyway) over time. A box isn't going to hurt, but that would be my last box of those. Apparently the shorter bullet means more hot gases when the bullet crosses the barrel/cylinder gap.

I'd stick with 158gr loads in both 38 and 357. I don't really have a recommendation since I'm one of the wiseacres who always chimes in with "Well, I reload, so ...". So, I'll just point out that you can reload pretty much anything you'd want for $20 or $30 per hundred, less if you cast your own bullets. Not for everyone, but those magnum revolvers are pretty much the gateway drug to reloading.
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Old 07-04-2022, 07:59 AM
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You have an L frame, so shooting the 125 grainers is not a problem.

Now a days if you reload primers cost about $100 per thousand which really increases your cost. Look around and you will find loaded ammo cheaper than having to reload.
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Old 07-04-2022, 09:24 AM
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The 686 is a great gun but I’d carefully consider how dense your neighborhood is. If houses are close together, or you live in a condo/apartment, load w/.38+P. I’d take it to the range w/a box of .357 AND a box of .38+P to see which shoots better (accuracy/recoil tolerance) for you. Best of luck.
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Old 07-04-2022, 10:59 AM
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With a 7" 686 recoil won't be an issue with any spec .357. Stay away from swagged or cast bullets that aren't jacketed, plated or powder coated. That's just for the sake of easy maintenance. The plain cast and swagged bullets won't hurt anything. I've shot untold thousands of them but it's your first revolver there's no point in taking on that cleaning chore.

I'm partial to 158gr myself but for general range fodder I'd take a deal on any quality manufactured ammo. Just keep notes on which ammo you try that your gun seems to be most accurate with. Use that for your precision target work.

For general self defense practice at appropriate targets at realistic self defense distances any safe well manufactured ammo will be fine. Precision accuracy not necessary. However something with similar recoil and POI to your chosen defense ammo is recommended, if reasonably feasible.

For general practice and plinking I'll shoot the deal.

Have fun.

PS: As for reloading, 38/357 is one of the easiest to reload should that interest you.

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Old 07-04-2022, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzShooter View Post
You have an L frame, so shooting the 125 grainers is not a problem.

Now a days if you reload primers cost about $100 per thousand which really increases your cost. Look around and you will find loaded ammo cheaper than having to reload.
Not to subvert OPs thread, but if you can point me at 357mag ammo under .30/round, I'd appreciate the heads up.

If we're going to have a conversation about the cost/merits of reloading, let's start a new thread and I'll be happy to participate.
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Old 07-04-2022, 05:15 PM
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Congratulations on your 686+, that is an excellent revolver! I was going to suggest a 5 inch barrel for home defense and target shooting, it's an excellent compromise. I know that we are on a Smith & Wesson forum, but my favorite 5 incher is my GP100.

I have owned .357 magnum revolvers for all of my 60 years of shooting and have not fired over a box of .357 magnum ammunition in all of that time. I use primarily .38 special target loads for target shooting and .38 special + P for home defense purposes.
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Old 07-05-2022, 07:02 AM
My5HTS&W My5HTS&W is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dougaz View Post
The better question is what are shooting Now?
Up to now, just 9mm. First 357/.38.
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Old 07-05-2022, 01:27 PM
My5HTS&W My5HTS&W is offline
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Went to the range for a quick 50 round test. I also ran 9mm rounds with my M&P9 M2.0. All .38 special, 132 gr FMJ through the 686+. Love this revolver. Comfortable in my hands, accurate(although I'm not very skilled) and minimal recoil with the ammo shot. Still open to ammo recommendations. Thanks for all your help. Good bunch here! I'm headed back to the range later this week, when I have more time.

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Old 07-06-2022, 08:59 AM
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A 686-6 Pro Series 5" could work for you. It is a 7 shot. Action is very good for out of box. Bob
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