S&W model 66 or 686


April 1, 2007, 11:26 AM
I am thinking about adding another revolver to the collection. My question: which is a better choice, a S&W model 66 or a model 686? I like the looks of both.

If you enjoyed reading about "S&W model 66 or 686" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Thaddeus Jones
April 1, 2007, 11:28 AM
I like the 66 better. The K-frame just handles and points more naturally, for me. I've always found the 66 to be a tack driver, and absolutely reliable, with all types and weights of bullets.

April 1, 2007, 11:59 AM
The 686 will take more beating, but the 66 will be easier to point and carry, especially if you're worried about it not being seen.

April 1, 2007, 03:50 PM
Depends what ammoe you plan on shooting a lot. If you want to shoot a lot of .357 loads the 686. If you plan on shooting .38 and occasional .357 the 66.

For carry definetly the 66 as it is lighter and smaller than the 686. The 686 has an L frame and the 66 is a K frame.

Both are great guns. If you plan on using one for just range time I would go with the 686. It is indestructable and can be passed down to multiple generations of shooters.

April 1, 2007, 03:52 PM
Oh and the 686 seem to be more accurate than 66's. Probably because of the larger frame and full underlug barrel.

What length barrel are you choosing?

April 1, 2007, 04:09 PM
For ease of carry, I would go with the 66. If you are a double action shooter, I would choose the K-Frame 66, personally.

As mentioned before, if you will be shooting a lot of heavy .357's, the heavier frame would be better for you and the gun.

Personally, I have an N Frame Mod 28 for the more heavy stuff, and the K-Frames for the double actions shooting. The K-Frames will still handle the .357's. It just becomes a little uncomfortable.

April 1, 2007, 04:34 PM
I have two J frames, one Airweight and one AirLite for carry however I wouldn't rule out carrying one of the others on occasion. I am leaning towards model 66 as I have other brands of revolvers that can easily handle .357. Since I might carry, a revolver that can support .357 is preferred. S&W is underrepresented in my collection and I think a 66 or 686 (one day both...) is a good start:D .

My preference: a model 66 with 3" barrel or a 686 with a 4" barrel.

April 1, 2007, 06:15 PM
i think the 4" 686, loaded w/ +P is about the perfect nightstand HD gun. Also, it's so purty!

April 1, 2007, 06:50 PM
I think a S&W 686 w/ a 4 inch barrel is one of the BEST bed side guns around.

I load mine w/ 1 - 38 wadcutter, folloewd by 2 - 38 plus P's, then completd w/ 2 rounds in .357. When those run out I have 3 speed loaders ready w/ .38 PLUS P SILVERTIP's and .357's mixed up. :what:

When all that runs out I will start jacking 3 inch # 4 buckshot into a Remington 870 Express. 'Geek - jack, sliide that rack' :fire: :evil: :D

April 1, 2007, 07:09 PM
+1 to what colubrid said. I shoot mostly .38 Specials, so the Model 66 is my choice.

April 1, 2007, 09:07 PM
Call me crazy but I think my 4" 586 balances better than my 4" 19.

April 1, 2007, 09:29 PM
A 3" M66 and a 4" M686 are two different guns so it's hard to say which is better since they would fill two different roles.

Even if you want to fire .357 Magnum rounds you can buy a M66 just as long as you fire 158 gr Mags and not 125 gr rounds. The M66 got the reputation of breaking down when feed a steady diet of .357 Mag rounds when it really was the higher speed light rounds that were doing the M66 in.

If you are going to carry this gun the M66 will carry better than the M686. If you are looking for a good range Magnum and HD revolver then the M686 will serve that role very well.

April 2, 2007, 11:30 AM
Ditto what everyone else is saying. If you shoot .38's and a few .357's and want something easy to carry, then get the M66. If this gun is a range, home, hunting double duty and you want the .357 mag power all the time, then get the M686.

The M66's were made to carry often, shoot a little. They are really, .38 +p guns... If you shoot more than 50 or so .357 at a time, you will have problems, but other than that, they are excellent guns.

Get both!

April 2, 2007, 11:51 AM
How harmful is it to a K-frame revolver if you occasionally shoot the 125 gr. .357 rounds from it?

April 2, 2007, 12:10 PM
The gases of the hot-125's seem to cut the lower portion of the forcing cone on the K-Frames. Actually, I'm going to disagree with the above post. The K-Frames usually do ok with the heavier 158 gr loads, and can handle a steady diet. The problem is: can your hand hold up to the recoil? The K-Frame is a great carry revolver, small and light. I think it is one of the best. It is also the best made for double action work. It stands to reason...the cylinder is small, therefore it torques the gun less when the trigger is pulled and the cylinder is cycled. Also Smith & Wessons tend to be smoother at double action shooting than the others, primarily because of the timing and the leaf main spring.

The L-Frame is a wonderful handgun. If I were to shoot only heavy load through a revolver and only had the choice between the K or the L, I'd go with the L, but mostly because of the recoil. Those hot .357's are painful in a light handgun.

April 2, 2007, 12:18 PM
I just wondered because not longer after I got my K-frame, a Security Six by Ruger, I got several hundred rounds of 125 gr .357s by Remington UMC. In total I've shot around 50 from it, with the main choice of ammunition being .38 Specials; several hundred of them.

The .357s are reserved primarily for defensive uses, but I guess for the longevity of my gun I should get some 158 gr. rounds.

I'd also better get an L-frame while I'm at it...

April 2, 2007, 12:25 PM
I'd also better get an L-frame while I'm at it...

Smart think'n.....:D

Side note:
Shooting in a low lighted range with a short barrel convinced me that hot 125's are not my choice for self defefense. It is like holding a dragon with recoil. A fast second shot is very hard to manage. If you search the internet, you will find the biggest offender of the 125's. I think it was the hot Federals, but not sure. I believe the WW were not that hot. Truthfully, I haven't kept up with it in years, as I shoot primarily .38's out of my revolvers nowadays, and use 1911's for protection.

April 2, 2007, 01:17 PM
Once I get a GP-100 that'll be my primary defensive handgun, suitable for firing any manner of factor .38s and .357s without worry or concern, and my Security Six will become my nightstand gun, always ready and waiting should somebody be stupid enough to break in.

A fast second shot is very hard to manage.

Not necessarily.

April 2, 2007, 02:48 PM
The model 66 is a great gun, but .357's just can't be run through it at a hot and heavy pace. Like I said, .38's are fine. 38+p's are fine. 15 or so .357's a sesssion is fine.

But there is a reason why most of the .357 gun makers went to the larger frames. Not knocking the K frames and the like... Just know that it was a problem particularly in the model 19's and 66's.

Great carry gun. I have a 4" model 19 and a 2.5" model 19. I shot them mostly with .38's and a few .357's per session. Load them with .38 +p's for carry.

April 2, 2007, 03:17 PM
We've all seen those cop movies from the 80s, right? The ones where the good guys have a S&W Model 19 with 4" barrel. We get that image stuck in our mind as an ideal revolver. Anyway that's how it happened with me.

The K-frame is a fantastic design, as long as you know its limitations. That's right, not only do you have to know your limitations, you also have to know the limitations of your gun.

There's nothing wrong with shooting .357s from a K-frame, that's what it was designed for. But you don't shoot in excess, beause it was designed for comfort while carrying it, not extended shootouts where you'd be using it constantly against criminal gangs while on duty, unlike the N-frame and L-frame revolvers. It's essentially a remade .38 revolver.

This can be scary to the young and newly introduced shooters, but after a while you mellow out and think "just don't go full drive all the time and everything will be fine", and that's how it is.

You can fire 158 gr .357s from your K-frame and it'll hold up fine.

You can fire 125 gr .357s from your K-frame and it'll hold up fine, just not as well as it would with the heavier rounds.

You can fire any manner of .38s from your K-frame and it'll likely outlast you and not need any significant parts replacement anytime soon.

You can practice with .357s, and not worry about your gun blowing up, but you'll need more maintenance work done later on down the road if you use them continually.

Black Knight
April 2, 2007, 04:01 PM
Both are great revolvers. They have both made great reputations for themselves. Do you have to choose one or the other? I have a 2 1/2 inch 66 and a 4 inch 686 and love them both. However my wife also likes the 66 for herself. If you can swing it get both. If you can get only one I would go for the 686 as it being slightly more bobust can take more heavy use.

April 2, 2007, 05:08 PM
How about a 2 1/2 inch pinned and recessed 66-1 ?This is one that definitely works and will be going up,up,up in price.I do love both guns,but the P&R 66-1 is on my real favorite list.I don't think they made a 3 inch until after 82.

April 2, 2007, 11:49 PM
They're both good revolvers. The 686 is more robust but the model 66 is tougher than many think. This 6" 66 is one of my favorite hikings guns for a lot of years. It's had it's share of full power .357 loads including quite a few of the hot 125 gr JHPs through it although I don't shoot them on a regular basis.. Also had countless .38 fired in it. It's still tight and accurate.


April 3, 2007, 04:46 AM
I'd also better get an L-frame while I'm at it...Yep.

April 3, 2007, 05:29 AM
I'll always own a four inch model 66. One day I'll own a six inch 686 with adjustable front sight for long range target work. My 66 is accurate enough to knock over 100m silhouettes three quarters of the time.

April 3, 2007, 07:53 AM
Reality check: A 4" 66 weighs 37 oz, 4" 686+ weighs 38.5 oz, and the 6-shot 4" weighs 40 oz. Keep in mind that the L-frame's cylinder opening in the frame is taller, permitting that 7-shot cylinder - or a 5-shot .44 Special, like the 696. Of course, they have exactly the same thickness & size gripframe, as K&L frame grips are the same size. Also, recall that the 66's have partial lugs, which pare weight from the muzzle end, making the 66's appear 'lighter' and easier to point. The 686's have a full lug - and that extra weight at the muzzle makes them feel heavier - and absorbs more of the muzzle rise under recoil. Finally, the front of the frame is .020" wider - permitting an additional .015" of forcing cone diameter. This allows more forcing cone erosion from hot low mass rounds before the barrel should be replaced. How many rounds? I have never seen or heard of a worn out f.c. on a 66.

My choice is the partial lug. I bought a new closeout 6" 66-6 9/03, and fitted a HiViz front sight and Ahrends square conversion cocobolo stocks before I even shot it, my first .357M. Later, I found a 686+ I could live with - a 'Stocking Dealer Exclusive' 5" partial lug - with HiViz and Ahrends stocks. The two revolvers are quite similar in handling and shooting. I don't shoot anything over my wimpy .357M homebrews - neither has ever seen a 'real' .357M. Interestingly, S&W replaced that 37 oz 4" 66 with the L-framed 7-shot 4" 620 - which weighs in at 37.9 oz - and is on my 'short' list. The much-ballyhoo-ed 4" GP100, with it's massive appearing shroud, weighs 41 oz - a whole ounce more than the 6-shot 686. Literally, any of them will give you great service.

My suggestion is to handle a new 620 and 686+ - let that help you decide. They can all wear the same grip - but the look & feel of the full vs partial lug will probably make up your mind for you. Get what YOU like.


PS The .357M is fine outdoors, but inside it can be a nightmare. When discharged in a small room - at night - you will be deafened and momentarily blinded. A +P 158gr LHPSWC is sufficient indoors and outdoors protection, and won't permenantly deafen you. It likely won't make it through several walls, like into your neighbor's house, either. Recall that S&W developed the .357M in the thirties for J.Edgar's G-men to pierce the car doors of fleeing felons.

If you enjoyed reading about "S&W model 66 or 686" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!