S&W 66 vs 686


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danelizer
August 17, 2003, 11:36 AM
I've been looking at snubby versions of Smith and Wesson models 686 (6-round version) and 66. I'm having a little trouble understanding the practical differences between the 2.

The 686 is 3 ounces heavier than the 66 and the 686 costs just a bit more. I'm basing all of this on specs that I've found on the web and pictures. Have not had a chance to get my hands on either at the local gun store.

What else is different between the 2 models?

Thanks!

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Preacherman
August 17, 2003, 12:00 PM
The 66 is a slightly less robust revolver than the 686 - that's about the sum of it.

The Model 19 - and later its stainless brother, the 66 - were introduced at the urging of Bill Jordan back in the 1950's, IIRC. He wanted the power of the .357 Magnum cartridge - until that time, available only in the very large N-frame revolvers - to be offered for police use in the much smaller and lighter K-frame size, which until then had been used only for cartridges up to .38 Special (e.g. the Military & Police, later evolved into the Model 10). S&W were dubious, but did a bunch of testing with stronger steels, etc., and eventually got it right.

In later years, with the development of hotter .357 Magnum loads like the 125gr. JHP at over 1,400 fps, the K-frame .357's began to show accelerated wear and tear. The frames showed "flame-cutting" above the forcing cone, and the guns would "shoot loose". In order to eliminate these problems, S&W introduced the L-frame 581/586 and their stainless-steel cousins, the 681/686. These have the same grip size as the K-frame, but a thicker steel topstrap and more robust internals, to handle the repeated firing of the hotter loads. (Ruger, BTW, did much the same thing, introducing the GP100 as a tougher gun than the earlier and smaller Security-Six. However, S&W kept the 66 in production, adding the 686 as a tougher high-end option, whereas Ruger actually stopped producing the Security-Six - a bad decision, IMHO.)

I have both 66's and 686's. For practice, I largely stay with .38 Special loads in the 66. With the 686, being tougher, I'm more comfortable practicing with full-house magnum loads. For carry, I keep a couple of 2½" 66's, which conceal easily and are very handy. For larger revolvers, I prefer the tougher 686.

Hope this clarifies things.

C.R.Sam
August 17, 2003, 12:20 PM
And....

686 barrel is a tad thicker at the forcing cone end, and full round. Does not have the clearance cut at the bottom as in the K frames.

Sam

Tamara
August 17, 2003, 12:22 PM
...which, if you're really fond of shooting lots and lots and lots of hot 125gr loads is a good thing, otherwise not so important.

C.R.Sam
August 17, 2003, 12:32 PM
Tam.....exzatly.

Sam

Lotzinger
August 18, 2003, 02:48 AM
I had the same question a year ago ...
purchased the 686 because of the bigger frame and ... OK, I didnt want to buy new speedloaders. :p

no regrets yet ...

The Mighty Beagle
August 18, 2003, 11:29 AM
I have both.
This is a win-win choice you're making.

However, it really depends on what you want to do with it. If you are at all into carrying your guns around either for hunting or CCW, get the 66. I mean, being stronger is great and all, but If you try carrying your 686, the day will eventually come when you wonder whether the theoretical advantage of all that damned extra weight really means anything.

If I had to choose, I'd sell the 686 despite it being a little more accurate.

What often goes unsaid is that it takes a LOT of Magnum shooting to wear out a 66, especially a more modern one, and most non-competition shooters aren't going to. And, if you do start seeing problems, you can send it back to S&W (free of charge probably) and they'll make it right. So how can you lose?

And besides, the 66 just points so much more quickly and has that "just right" balance.

Handgun
August 18, 2003, 04:17 PM
I have been debating the same issue between the 66 and 686 but not the snubs (4" to 6").

Right now I can get a very good to excellent condition 6" 686 for $279 or a very good 4" 66 for $299. I am opting for the 686 because of condition, price, and long term durability (although I doubt I'd shoot either enough to really test the longevity of even the K frame).

The Mighty Beagle
August 18, 2003, 04:48 PM
Not to keep harping on it, but one other reason you might think about the 66 ... I think S&W has discontinued the 6" version. Who knows how much longer they'll even make the other versions ....

valnar
August 18, 2003, 05:30 PM
Just my opinion...


I feel the L-frame is a tad front heavy because of the full lug and doesn't balance well. This is my opinion on the 4" model of a 686 I own. I think a 2.5" would be fine in the balance department (but would suck in the accuracy/velocity dept.) A 6" is out of the question in my book.

If you want a 6", get an old model 27 N-frame.

Robert

C.R.Sam
August 18, 2003, 07:54 PM
I think a 2.5" would be fine in the balance department (but would suck in the accuracy/velocity dept.)

My 2.5" 686 did just fine on plates out to 60yds. Wore it out or would still have it.

Sam

Poohgyrr
August 18, 2003, 10:03 PM
I personally prefer 4"er, but that's just me. I'd snap up the M66 in a heartbeat. Then I might send it to someone like Berryhill for a little beadblast & action work.

And those snubs can shoot fine, just takes more practice :):):)...

Shane
August 19, 2003, 12:30 AM
...which, if you're really fond of shooting lots and lots and lots of hot 125gr loads is a good thing, otherwise not so important.

My favorite .357 magnum load is the 158 grain bullet in the 1200-1250 fps range. I usually put around 100 such rounds through my revolvers each range trip--the 158 grain bullets to me are easy to shoot extended periods because the TYPE of recoil isn't bad (when fired in a medium or large frame revolver). Is this load as hard on the gun as a 125 grain bullet at 1400 fps?

I know the bigger weight bullets tend to recoil more, but is it the actual recoil that hurts the gun or is it the flame cutting of the top strap (associated with the higher velocity lightweight 125 grain bullets) that hurts it? Or both?

I shoot GP 100s (plus one S&W 686 Plus) mostly, so durability is not really an issue for me. I'm just curious though, because I have considered getting a S&W K frame one day.

C.R.Sam
August 19, 2003, 11:28 AM
I think a lot of the reason the heavier bullets are easier on the gun than the 125s is that the bullet is goin slower when it hits the forcing cone. More important in the Ks than the Ls because the Ks have less meat at the back of the barrel.

Sam

RustyHammer
August 20, 2003, 12:35 PM
Thanks, Sam. I have been sort of thinking the same thing ... but am not nearly as gun savvy as you are. /Rusty

Mastrogiacomo
August 21, 2003, 06:57 PM
I have a 686 4" and love using it at the range. Clearly, not a gun you can carry but I wouldn't hesistate to buy a snubbie 686. My dream is to find the model in it's rare 3" barrel....

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