686 SSR First Impressions


June 22, 2008, 09:24 PM
Having put off purchase of an L-frame for twenty-five years, I decided that the SSR version might be tolerable. The first revolver I ever fired was a Model 15. A few K-frames and various N-frame pieces covered my needs. I thought of L-frames as the option for those who couldn't quite nail down their wish list and settled for a compromise.

I was pleasantly surprised.

The L-frame, especially the SSR, does fill a valid gap in the product line. Here are the most interesting things I noticed after the initial range session:

-- it shoots well; excellent accuracy with each of the four loads used.

-- the extra mass, compared to a Model 66, sits just forward of the grip. This helps with felt recoil while maintaining good ability to place the sights on target quickly.

-- perceived recoil is less than a Model 66. It digested warmer loads with less bother than my ported 66.

-- traditionalists will love the forged hammer and trigger and just have to ignore the lock.

-- "out of the box" trigger feel is very good; far better than the average new Smith. The "bossed" main spring, similar to a Wolff, likely has something to do with it. ALL NEW SMITHS SHOULD HAVE TRIGGER FEEL THIS GOOD!

-- excellent hammer spur shape; rounded off enough for snag-free draw while retaining sufficient surface area for trouble-free cocking.

-- trigger overtravel stop is nice touch. Some human actually spent time filing it to proper length.

-- the barrel shape is, uh, different but I think the engineers won that argument and it works, likely with less bother than barrel/shroud combinations.

-- the muzzle crown is NOT what I'd describe as a "target" crown. Rather, it is a "protected" crown. Nothing wrong with that! It's a good idea on a duty gun.

-- the grip is the best factory, laminated grip I've fondled. Smith did well in providing a cheap, durable, one-size-fits-all grip that feels this good. I like wood and will replace this grip with one that fits my hand a bit better. Most folks will be amazed at the original.

-- interchangeable front sights are a good feature. I have several, including a tritium dot, on order.

My Model 66 will continue to be my primary duty sidearm because of the weight (I walk three to five miles per shift.) and its broken-in action is so stupendously smooth. If I decide that I need additional power while retaining good front sight control, the 686SSR can slip effortlessly into my holster.

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June 23, 2008, 12:53 AM
Thanks for the write up. I'm pretty interested in the SSR and like to see what others are thinking about it.

Ala Dan
June 23, 2008, 02:34 AM
The new Smith & Wesson model 686 SSR design is far too radical look'in
for me; as I prefer the traditional looking revolvers~! :eek: ;)

June 23, 2008, 05:48 AM
I have the set: 627PC, 686SSR and 60 Pro. I like the look and feel of them.

The 627 came with a terrific trigger. The 686 trigger wasn't that great, but has smoothed up greatly with a little work. The 60 also has a good trigger. All are very accurate. I also really appreciate the removable sight blades on the 627 and 686.

June 23, 2008, 09:47 AM
Y'all are welcome!

Sad, but true: at my age a new revolver is better than the ol' lady!

Ala Dan: I agree that the barrel, uh, contours are "abby-normal" but they bring to mind Corollary #7639 of Murphy's Law: "If it looks stupid but it works, it ain't stupid!"

Without a doubt, the cutting tools of the CNC 'bots drive the shape but it provides the desired rigidity with minimal weight -- keeping the easy swing/point characteristics of an old "pencil" barrel. On the down side, minimal/strange area at the muzzle precludes a traditional, "eleven-degree", target crown. --but it works! I may have the thing ported at some point but it doesn't "scream" for porting like a K-frame.

June 23, 2008, 09:49 AM
I kinda like the look myself. :p

I drooled over one in .38 Super, but let it alone.

June 23, 2008, 11:35 AM
I'll vote with Ala Dan. Walkalong must be morphing into a new fart.

Jim H.

June 24, 2008, 05:58 PM
Gosh, I sure hope not. :D

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 24, 2008, 06:50 PM
Sounds good; thanks for the write-up. I *really* want an L-frame in .45 colt, 4.5" bbl. I'll say please..??? If Taurus can put a 5-shot .44 maggie into the Tracker frame, why not an L frame in .45 colt?

June 24, 2008, 08:00 PM
The L-frame's front frame thickness is tested with the .44 Special family 296, 396, & 696. They have a power/life limiting forcing cone already. Enlarge the bore another .022+", and it'll be nearly non-existent. It made me sad when I mic-ed my 696 years back, but it answers the question.

I like the 627 Pro - same bucks as the 686SSR. Besides, my pusher 'ordered' a 686 SSR for me a year ago last March/April, when I learned of it. When it finally arrived, he put it in the case at a price. I happened to see it - grab it - and started writing a check for it. The owner ripped his tag off - and raised his price $80. I balked - I am an old customer - he was steadfast - me too - I left - didn't return for months. The one he had was blessed with a nasty trigger - sour grapes. I eventually went back - and bought two S&Ws in two plus weeks - but it was a long time. That 627 Pro I bought was a deal - great trigger, spring loaded front sight, eased charge holes, and moonclip ready. The same price as the 686 SSR. I love the 627 - of course, I've had an 01-02 era JM PC627 V-Comp for years - fantastic revolver - my best trigger. Sadly, at 5" plus the Comp of blank, it feels 'bigger' - also, it has a dovetailed front sight even S&W's PC shop doesn't have other choices for (I like the HiViz searchlights!). My two 627s are below:


The Pro now has the square conversion Ahrends that the JM 627 sports. The JM finally has another set of proper Jerry Miculek grips on it!

I still look at the forlorn 686SSR in the pusher's case - surely it's another one by now...


November 27, 2008, 07:33 AM
Nice review. Just picked up a 686SSR myself. Action was smooth as buttah. Had to try it. :)

November 27, 2008, 08:29 AM
Welcome to THR.

Now all we need is a pic and a range report. :)

November 27, 2008, 10:17 AM
Will do. Might be a bit though. :)

November 27, 2008, 12:51 PM
I've shot revolvers almost exclusively for many years now. I love the older smiths. But...... I must admit that I really like the new pro series guns. I think they look very cool.

It really ticks me off that S&W, over the last few years, has made guns I have longed for, but now when they finally get around to producing them they have the lock. I was lusting over the thought of a L-Frame 7 shot model 66/65 copy forever. Then, post lock, the 620/619 was born. Damn.

Anyway, I own a 627 Pro and really like it. Perfect house gun. 8 shots, revolver reliability, and night sights (aftermarket). The SSR and 60 Pro are equally cool looking.

November 27, 2008, 10:58 PM
Agreed about the lock. I looked for a 66 pre lock and found one just could not get there in time. Local sale. Found a 581 as well from the late 80's. Nice shape but was blued.

Wanted a little shine on this one. :)

November 28, 2008, 12:16 PM
Nice looking, I think. I do know that the black versions are catching my eye.....Are the shroud and barrel separate parts, like a two piece barrel, or do they machine them with that elaborate crown because it's the big bucks?

November 28, 2008, 11:12 PM
I like the looks of all three and when I get back to work I will get all three. The 627, 686, and 60 are hot looking. Nothing shoots like a Smith.

November 29, 2008, 01:19 AM
I think it is a two piece barrel. (Looks like it is to me) Allegedly the barrel is designed to be more accurate. Not sure how that's possible but I hear great things about the accuracy of this model.

November 29, 2008, 05:42 AM
I like it, but I'm not giving up my dash one. Good write up.

April 9, 2009, 06:09 PM
I have come across a few threads regarding moon clips. Does the 686SSR or the Pro Series 627 use moon clips? I have contacted S&W and they stated that only PC guns have moon clips. Please advise!

April 9, 2009, 06:51 PM
Another great 686SSR Review located here as well. Nice little site with a few good reviews.


April 9, 2009, 10:51 PM
The guns are GREAT!

I have a 686, first generation. Six-inch barrel and a stamped side plate. NEVER fired. Best trigger pull of any gun I've ever shot. Also have a 629 (stamped plate, counterbored chambers, pinned barrel), also never fired. Outstanding trigger pulls on that one, too.

Don't think I'll ever fire either. If I wanted to shoot a .44 mag, I have an outstanding Astra stainless .44 mag (also counterbored/pinned). Pachmayr grips, too. Can't believe that these guns didn't eat into S&W's market. Had one years ago that I shot and it shot every bit as good as my Smith 29.

If I had it to do over again, would have gotten a 4-inch 686. The extra weight on the barrel is just too much for quick line up.



Although I like the new designs, they just don't have the "class"
of the older designs. Probably just showing my age....



The Astra (above) and the S&W 629.

April 13, 2009, 01:49 AM
def4pos8 Great review I also have the 686SSR and not a negative thing to say. I loved it so much I bought a 60 Pro and a 1911 9MM Pro. The 1911 is the BEST gun I have ever owned. The 627 Pro is on my short list as well.

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