I know a lot can be done with my 1911, but what are the options for my 686? I've done some shopping online, but I can't find much. Any suggestions?
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November 18, 2007, 01:51 AM
There are barrels, grips, spring kits, scope mounts, extended cylinder releases, speed loaders, moon clip conversions...what are you looking to do?
I don't think that there is a single revolver out there that has more available for it than the L frame Smith!
November 18, 2007, 01:53 AM
p.s. The only thing with revolvers is that some of the work that you could do yourself with your 1911 will have to be done by a gunsmith, ie new barrel installation, any internal modifications, etc. Many of the internals of a revolver are hand fitted.
November 18, 2007, 01:56 AM
I would like a lighter trigger without compromizing the striking momentum. Is that possible? Also, I would like to know if there is a rail mounted rear sight available to make switching from scope to sights more simple.(I like to be lazy on the rare time that I'm not at work)
November 18, 2007, 01:59 AM
I'm having one converted to .44 Spl. :D
November 18, 2007, 02:10 AM
What I would do (and am going to do after the holidays) is install a Jerry Miculek spring kit. (You can install Wolff or any make...they're all about the same.) This will reduce the striking force also, so I am going to add an extended firing pin from Cylinder and Slide to compensate.
What model is your Smith? Mine is a 686-5. You can find out by opening the cylinder and looking at the exposed part of the frame.
November 18, 2007, 02:15 AM
It says M686-1
November 18, 2007, 02:16 AM
As far as the scope rail is concerned, I don't know of one that is easily removed to remount the scope, but mounts are available through Jack Weigand, B-Square, and a few others. The other option you would have is to have the barrel drilled and tapped and install the scope directly on the barrel. Then you could leave your rear sight installed at all times and use quick release rings on the scope. Voila!
November 18, 2007, 02:18 AM
The -1 has the hammer mounted firing pins, where as mine has the frame mounted. I don't think you can use the extended firing pin with them, but you can use the spring kit to improve the trigger.
Do you reload? If so all manufacturers recommend using Federal primers with their spring kits. The reason is that they are a much softer primer and easier to detonate than other brands.
Guy B. Meredith
November 18, 2007, 02:19 AM
Send it in to Miculek's in-laws, Carter Custom.
A smoothed action with reduced springs is really strange--like shooting a toy. Most of the competitors with this setup feel it is necessary to shoot only Federal primers, though, because the striking force IS reduced.
November 18, 2007, 02:21 AM
You mean Jim Clark of Clark Custom Guns. http://www.clarkcustomguns.com/
November 18, 2007, 02:21 AM
What is the difference between the 5 and the 1? This is the first revolver I've had and I love to shoot it. Are the springs hard to install? The longer firing pin? This gun is very accurate. Are they all?
November 18, 2007, 02:31 AM
Smith and Wesson revolvers after WWII went through a series of revisions, and each revision is a different dash. The 686 was designed in the early 80's to replace the model 66. The original 686 is just a 686, or sometimes called a 686-0 or a no dash. Every revision they made, got a coinciding dash. Mine is a 686-5, so it is the 6th rendition of the 686. You can also use it as a quick way to identify the time it was produced.
As far as differences, there are a few. Mine has some parts manufactured using a metal injected molding process, where as yours is all forged parts throughout. Your gun has a pinned barrel, wheras mine has a "crush fit" barrel. There are many other differences in the variations, and many good posts on this forum about them.
November 18, 2007, 02:34 AM
And mine has a frame mounted firing pin and yours is on the hammer itself. When I pull my hammer back and look at it, there is no firing pin on the hammer itself. When the hammer falls, it pushes a firing pin mounted inside the frame into the primer, causing it to fire. I'll snap some pics real quick for you!
November 18, 2007, 02:40 AM
Thanks, yall have been very helpful. One other thing, it was mentioned that one of you are going to modify to 44special. Is that like a 44mag? What other calibers can the gun be customized to use?
November 18, 2007, 02:59 AM
Here are some blurry pics I took of mine. I got it about three weeks ago for less than $400 without a scratch on it! I like it almost as much as the eclipse I bought at the same time.
November 18, 2007, 03:06 AM
The onlu modification I have done to my S&W 6" (six shot), 686-5 is replace
the trigger return spring with a WOLFF 13 lb spring. Its 'bout as low as I want
to go, in order to insure proper ignition of the primers. I also handload my own
ammo; and I do recommend the use of Federal primers, but they are scarce
right now~! I am glad I stocked up on them before they became history. ;)
November 18, 2007, 03:41 AM
That's a fine looking Smith! I took some pics real to help you out (and anybody else who may be interested!) Sorry in advance dial-up guys!
The first pic here is where to find the dash series on the revolver.
The second pic here is the receiver area. Notice that the trigger and hammer are different colors than on your gun. Your gun has these parts forged, mine are metal injection molded and then heat treated, hence the case hardened color.
Next are a couple pics of the frame mounted firing pin from the rear end. This is called a "transfer bar" system. The reason for it instead of the hammer mounted is simple. The firing pin cannot move forward unless the gun is fully cocked and released. So if it is dropped, there is VERY little chance of the firing pin contacting the primer hard enough to detonate the round. I say little because anything is possible.
One more difference that I just thought of that I forgot to mention above is that underneath the adjustable sight, all -5 guns are drilled and tapped for a scope mount! You can see the bottom of the screws on the topstrap.
I'm sure there's more differences than what I listed, but these are the major ones. Hope this was helpful!
November 18, 2007, 07:55 AM
Aha, so Ala Dan is the one who keeps that store, our source, out of Fed primers - the truth is out! Sadly, I didn't have them squirreled away - had to switch to 'new' Win SP primers, which were reportedly 'softened' - and - NO FTF's, despite my .357Ms being very softly sprung. Sadly, the Win LP primers, when tried for my .44 & .45 'play' revolvers, still yielded ~30% ftfs, so they are a no-go. Fed LP Magnums work...
I have found that the 'normal' Wolff hammer spring - and 13# return - will pop anything - and feel pretty slick, DA & SA. Polishing the sides - and inside - while you have that trigger return block out helps, too. Use a proper hollow-ground screwdriver. Order your Wolff set from Brownell's - and one of their 4-bit screwdriver sets for S&W - the bits fit in the handle. While you are at it, order some cylinder brushes and bore brushes in bronze. The cylinder brushes are longer and larger in OD to clean the .38 Spcl crud, etc, from the chambers.
What makes you think you need a new fp? The hammer mounted ones are replaceable... should they break.
PS Sometimes, older used S&Ws may have gone through a 'Rube Goldberg' spring job. This is where the hammer leaf spring is 're-formed', often so it flexes out of plane from it's original design - causing drag. The trigger return spring often has a turn or two 'clipped' - leaving a burr that drags inside the trigger return block - and no longer is in a linear part of the spring's curve, either. It is only ~$15 for the Wolff 'standard' set - and it will be an improvement. Also, the 'strain screw' is there to permit easy removal of the hammer leaf - it is not an adjustment! When you install the hammer spring, tighten it!
November 18, 2007, 10:55 AM
686's are already nearly perfect, but here's what I would do.
1. Action job to improve the DA pull. The SA is already top grade.
2. Non-factory grips, either Ahrends Retros or Eagle Classics, for a square butt gun. The Eagles will need a buffing and polishing to bring out their beautiful grain.
3. Bead blast finish.
4. Optional and more expensive than the above: mill off the front sight and install a Patridge.
5. Leather - something fancy in a hip holster from Saguaro Leather. Amazing looking stuff.
November 18, 2007, 02:45 PM
I think the front sight is pinned on - at least it is for the latest ones. I 'optimzed' a 6" 66 by putting Ahrends square conversion fg cocobolo stocks and a HiViz sight on the front - super plinker with my .38's. A year later, S&W released a 5" half-lug 686+ with a HiViz, V-notch rear sight, and the same Ahrends - as a 'Stocking Dealer Exclusive', SKU #164284 - ~ '03-'04. With my spring changes and break-in, it is just about the most fun one can have. I know my 4" half lug quest continues... I may get back on that one day, but I'll have to start with a 620 instead, as they don't/haven't made a 4" h-l 686.
There are so many things that can be done to a S&W revolver, but as some above have said, most should be done by a gunsmith.
First, have the cylinder faced off and the barrel set back. This will regulate the amount of gas escaping through the gap during firing and the velocities from chamber to chamber won't vary as much. During this process, the forcing cone can be checked and probably recut to 11 degrees.
Next comes the action job. This involves more than just installing a new spring kit. These help, but someone who knows the internals needs to do some deburring, burnishing, and light polishing.
The grips you can replace yourself. I personally like the hogue wood grips. You can get them in so many configurations, that something is bound to suit your taste. If your gun is a square-butt, then you can have a gunsmith re-contour the frame to a round-butt. If you are going to do this, have your desired round-butt grips before you take it to the smith so that he can contour the frame to the grips you like. This is personal preference. I have custom S&W's with square butts and those converted to round-butt.
The sights can also be played with. If you like the factory sights, great, but theres usually room for improvements. If you like fixed rear sights, cylinder and slide used to (I think they still do) make a fixed rear sight for S&W revolvers. If you want optics on an older non drilled and tapped S&W, then you can have a scope mount installed. As for the front sights, you can have plastic inserts installed in various colors, you can have fiber optics installed (this can be difficult if your revolver is not already set up to take them).
I'm not much for bead blasting a S&W, but if thats you preference, then go for it. I suppose it has its place. Other than that, you could just have it polished.
New barrels are okay, but the factory barrels are fairly good as they are. They can be ported (magna port does a really nice job) and compensated to reduce felt recoil. They can be shortened if you like. They can also recut the crown to an 11 degree target crown.
ADDED: I forgot, you can also have a 3rd lock-up point added in the form of a ball detent lock on the crane.
This is by all means all you can do to them, but its a good start...
November 18, 2007, 05:05 PM
After shooting it, I don't think I will ever need it ported. It shoots like a dream with very manageable recoil. The six inch barrel and full lug are compensation enough for me. I think I will go for the spring and action job, though. I also may get a rail for a scope, because it is tapped for a rail underneath the rear sight. I would love to take a whitetail down with it! My last one was with an open sight 30/30, however. A rifle is a little easier to steady with open sights, though, and I'm not to keen on following blood trails.
November 18, 2007, 05:36 PM
S & W Perf. Center
Master Revolver Action Job $125
The COmbat Revolver package adds
a bead blast finish for an additional $75
I had this done to my 625 and now I
want it done to my 686P
My 686P has Hogue Compact ( not really
that much smaller except as it tapers toward
the but of the grip instead of flaring like
the full size Hogue offers. Mine have finger
grooves which fit my hands very nicely as well
as checkering in Rosewood.
I'm considering a port job from Mag-na-Port
($88) My Milt SParks 200AW holster should be
delivered next month.
I also have 4 of the HKS 587 7 round Speedloaders
November 18, 2007, 06:01 PM
The 686/586 and 681/686 never had pinned barrels.
November 18, 2007, 06:31 PM
When it comes to the fiber optic sights for the 686, are there any recommendations?
Also, does someone have a comparative photo of a glass bead finish and a polished stainless steel finish? I am curious if it is worth the extra $75.
November 19, 2007, 10:12 PM
Ok, I'm convinced. I am going to have some customization work done on my 686P 4". Oh why did you have to start this thread? Now I will have to explain the coming bank withdrawals to my wife. :rolleyes:
November 19, 2007, 10:43 PM
The bead blast finish is a dull silver/grey color.
Uh,....Smith's with frame mounted firing pins do not have transfer bars, they still have the same internal hammer block that the guns with hammer mounted firing pins have. I believe the frame mounted firing pins came about because of some high pressure, soft primer loads caused some guns to tie up. There was a recall and refitting of firing pins on early 586's because of this. The frame mounted firing pins can be fitted tighter around the firing pin. In my experience, the Smith hammer block system is superior in longevity to the transfer bar. I've had 3 Ruger transfer bars break in various guns. I've never heard of a Smith hammer block breaking. Other than 1 hammer spring, I've never had an internal part in a Smith break.
Rover 'n Rugers
November 20, 2007, 01:09 PM
"I would like a lighter trigger without compromizing the striking momentum. Is that possible?" Yes, it is quite possible. A person who posts regularly at the Enos Revolver Forum ( http://www.brianenos.com/forums/ ) is Randy Lee who owns Apex Tactical. In the game guns he can get the double action down around 4 pounds. He did a carry 66 with a 6 pound double action. His website is at:
He is a degreed engineer and maintains that momentum and not just mass is the key to ignition. He lightens the hammer to speed up the fall. Of course there is the action tuning, too. Even without going this route one can get the double action down around 7.25 pounds and ensure reliable ignition with tuning. If one adds the C&S extended firing pin the poundage can be reduced maybe another 0.5 pound. The pin is reported to be a bit fragile, though, so may not want to use in a defensive gun.
November 20, 2007, 01:31 PM
Probably a less than popular opinion, but the 686 is one of the guns I feel is just about perfect, right out of the box.
November 20, 2007, 01:38 PM
If you get the S&W PC 'Master Revolver Trigger Job', have them install the HiViz sight - they'll have the correct height unit in stock. Drilling and pinning a sight is no big deal - but, even though I'd done it before, my last attempt cost me a broken pin punch - $15+. Add to that the cost of the drill - and a sight, should you misalign the drilled hole, and you'll happily pay them. A local "gunsmith" misdrilled a friend's sight - then mounted it with Loctite - and drilled through the sight mount and sight for the pin! He charged him, too, for the butcher job - and it was an unshot new revolver.
You may never recoup the cost of custom S&W PC Shop work in the subsequent sale of a revolver, but you can sure enjoy it yourself. I would talk with them about your low DA requirements.
November 20, 2007, 03:47 PM
I like mine the way it is.
I do want to get some BBQ grips for it someday.
If you ever run across a 686 no dash CS-1 (buy it) don't mess with it. It can't be improved on. Well unless it's a four inch then it needs to be a 3.
Bead blast is handsome. It's also fragile - it shows scratches fairly easily.
November 20, 2007, 08:23 PM
Smith and wesson revolvers dont have transfer bars either. They have a hammer block safety bar that prevents the hammer/ firing pin from hitting the primer when the trigger is released. That was added in 1946 or so, before that they had only the hump on the rebound slide which held the firing pin / hammer away from the primer when the trigger was released.
Smith's hammer block works the opposite way that a transfer bar does.
Ala Dan and others have mentioned using a weaker trigger return spring or clipping a couple coils off. This will give you a lighter trigger but a less reliable gun, it also weakens the rebound slide safety feature and the hammer block feature. In rapid firing the stronger trigger return spring makes sure you fully return the trigger, that ensures when you pull it again the gun will cycle completely and fire, which is important in a high stress self defense situation. Jerry Miculek the fastest revolver shooter in the world, puts an extra strong rebound spring in his 686, to ensure that he doesnt short stroke the trigger when rapid firing it.
BTW I have two 686 revolvers a 4" + model and a 6" I have customized mine with Hogue wood grips. I think they are perfect otherwise. If you want a better trigger send it back to S&W for the master action job, they will make it feel lighter and smoother without reducing the power or reliability of the springs.
I have a couple bead blasted revolvers, they tend to show scratches and get ugly shiney spots fast. You can polish your gun with some flitz or simachrome, and make it shiney, if you want a durable black finnish and dont mind spending big bucks I think someone (robar?) does NP3 for revolvers, which is very durrable.
November 21, 2007, 09:25 AM
Has anyone had the 686 cut for moon clips? Is it worth the money? Is having the charge holes chamferred worth the money?
November 21, 2007, 11:31 AM
First - the stout trigger return spring actually speeds up the return, too. Springs are cheap - your time probably isn't. 'Clipping' a turn or two, besides removing the flatter end and possibly getting you out of the spring's pre-load, may also leave a burr that will drag inside the trigger block. Just get a Wolff spring set - and use the lightest, if you are not into ultimate speed. From my experience, the current Win SP primers are just as reliable (100% here!) as the Fed SP primers with the lighter Wolff hammer leaf, so there is no reason to not try the lower strength spring. This isn't the case for the Win LP primers, however. Again - my experience, YMMV.
As to moonclips... a 625 in .45 ACP will spoil you. They almost want to 'jump' into the 'eased' charge holes of my 625JM. Moonclips and .357Ms are problematic - not all case makers use the same rim separation for the 'clips to even fit. Plus, the 'clipped .357Ms look/feel spindly - and are hard to align, if my JM PC627 V-Comp is an indicator. I can certainly reload .38s or .357Ms faster from HKS #587 7-shot speedloaders into my 686+ than I can those 8-hole moonclips in my 627. Like I said, the 625 spoils you... that may be why the Great One chose a 627 for his speed 8 round shots and a 625 for his reload-requiring shots.
Below is my idea of a 'modified' 686+ - the 'Stocking Dealer Exclusive' I mentioned earlier. Unseen is the V-notch rear sight blade - but, other than the spring changes and some minor smoothing (trigger return block), it is stock. It has sent many thousands of wimpy plate pinger .357Ms downrange, and as many .38 Specials, too. Super feel in the hand - it points naturally. It was a steal at $489 new a few years back, when a regular 4" f-l 686+ was $519.
Can any of you tell the approximate age of my -1 686? It was mentioned, so I'm just curious.
November 21, 2007, 10:24 PM
'86-'87, per the SCSW
November 21, 2007, 10:34 PM
Thank you, Gator. I can't believe this gun stayed like new this long! I hope it will last that long with as many rounds as I will put through it. I just fired 300 rounds through it today! I may just leave it like it is.
November 21, 2007, 11:11 PM
DAdams, respectfully, the way to improve a CS-1 3-inch, is to make it a 3-inch M66. :neener: Regards.
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