Why isn't my 586 as good as my 28-2?


June 24, 2008, 03:25 PM
I have a S&W 586, 6", in beautiful condition, my first revolver, but I don't like shooting it nearly as much as I like shooting my second revolver, my 28-2. I am also not nearly as good a shot with the 586, whereas the 28-2 is the gun I shoot best with. I feel like it is because the 586 action feels almost sticky to me, compared to the 28-2 the 586 feels like someone injected pine sap or something into the action. I know the owner previous to me only fired a few rounds out of it, maybe 20 but definitely less than 50. Is the action just not broken in yet? I have not fired it enough, I know that much, but I hate shooting it when I have that buttery Highway Patrolman to shoot instead. I even feel like the sights on the 28-2 are easier to use.

Is there anything I can do to smooth up the 586 on my own that is cheap and easy? I don't feel comfortable messing with the internals, but I think maybe I should try taking off the sideplate and seeing if there is anything like rust on the insides that could be contributing, or excess oil that gummed up in there. Should I just dry fire the heck out of it until the action gets more broken in? Revolvers don't rely on recoil forces to break them in like an auto do they? It is not practical for me to shoot a lot right now, so I can't spend anywhere near the time I want on the range, and something like dry fire practice would be a lifesaver for me if it will help out the revo and my trigger discipline.



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June 24, 2008, 03:39 PM
There area couple of variables here.

1) you don't know what prior owners have done to the gun - maybe the 28-2 has had an action job

2) a few hundred (3 to 5) cycles is what I've been told to do before "judging" a trigger. has your 586 had 500 fires/dry fires?

Build time, in my opinion, matters quite a bit. I have found 1980s vintage S&Ws to have great triggers. my 686 is great, but it still wasn't as good as a 28-2 I had that was built late 70s. I believe it MUST have had an action job, it was just that smooth.

Here's another data point - this spring I bought a 1970 vintage 27-2 - in near-new shape. I was surprised that the trigger was heavy and stacked a little. After some dry firing and then 30 rounds at a range session, it was already getting better. I don't think the gun had seen that many rounds at all in the 37 years before I got it! I will make no more judgments on it until I get a few hundred dry fires and at least 100 live rounds through it. You are correct, recoil doesn't play a role in the trigger "breaking in" (but neither does it on most autos - at least the trigger part of the equation - reliability and cycling are other matters).

Dry firing is fine on your revolver (not a rimfire one, but centerfire S&W is OK). It is also excellent practice to improve your trigger control and grip - you can watch your sights perfectly as the hammer falls and see any faults.

Caution - before you go inside your 586, learn how to do it properly. you can mar the screws and sideplate and tweak the sideplate without just the exactly correct screwdriver and removal techniques. If your 586 is clean and in good shape, it shouldn't need it. If someone has been spraying WD-40 in the action over the years, or has dumped lots of the wrong oil in, which has oxidized, you may well have some gunk in there. But dry fire it and fire it a few hundred times and see if it improves before you go in there unless you know what you are doing, and don't do it without reading instructions about it.

I have yet to find a S&W trigger made between 1905 (oldest I've sampled) and 1994 (newest gun I own) that has not been "good enough." Some were better than others, but none were "bad." None were gritty, stacked badly, or had faults like are common on most all other brands.

If you want to bone up on some good advice, I recommend Grant Cunningham's web site and especially his "library."


June 24, 2008, 05:17 PM
I have yet to be convinced any stainless S&W will ever be as smooth as a carbon steel blue one.
Especially the older blue ones.

It's just the nature of stainless steel to have a "stickier" feel then high carbon steel.


Broom Rider
June 24, 2008, 05:36 PM
The 586 isn't stainless, it's the blued version of the stainless 686.
It might be the springs in your gun or it might just need to be cleaned and lubed. Until it's had a bit of cycling it may not develop the nice feel you're thinking of. It may never be just like the 28 is.
Wolff makes a Power Rib mainspring for S&W, you might want to try one.

June 24, 2008, 06:31 PM
Plus the trigger/hammer even on stainless 686s are not stainless.

June 24, 2008, 06:43 PM
Yes Yoda, that's correct. As I understand it, the only stainless Hammer/trigger combos that S&W ever did were on the early 60 models, the Chief Special Stainless that came out in '66. They gave up a few years later, like '68, because they did not feel right and hold up well. To keep the finish similar, they just flashed chromed the carbon steel ones to get a similar look (though some SS guns have case hardened ones, as well).

This was the practice until 1997, when they all went to MIM steel hammers/triggers (still carbon steel, not stainless), but still either flash chromed or case hardened exterior working surface.

As rcmodel well knows, there are other parts that impact the trigger feel besides just the hammer/trigger. Particularly the rebound spring and rebound slide, and the cylinder bolt. I know the rebound slide and spring are carbon steel on my 686 - I don't know about the cylinder bolt. Even SS guns use carbon steel internals where the SS would not be wise. S&W has had a method to their madness (well, up until 2001...). I have felt SS guns that had triggers on par with the best blue guns I've felt - particularly the 80s era 629's.

June 24, 2008, 10:26 PM
My M28-2 has the best trigger of all of my S&W revolvers. It's one of the very first N prefix guns to be produced, with a serial # under 1900. :D

Unfortunately, some "fool" plated it with something and then it was spraypainted black. I've gotten rid of most of the paint, but it's soaked into the plating.

If you want a smoother trigger on your 586, you'll need to either shoot/dry fire it a lot...or tear it down and polish everything that moves + replace the trigger rebound spring. DO NOT touch the hammer/trigger/sear engagement surfaces. S&W made those parts as either case hardened, or the MIM that everyone hates. If too much is removed from the engagement surfaces, the gun will be unsafe and you'll be spending $$$ to get replacement parts.

June 25, 2008, 12:39 PM
Thanks all! I took it out and dry fired it some last night, it isn't nearly as bad as I had remembered it, though it is definitely heavier than the pull on the 28-2. Double action pull is smoother than I remembered, single action pull is heavier and requires more of a concerted effort to fire than the 28, but isn't terrible. I guess my Highway Patrolman has spoiled me on what to expect from a revolver trigger. I will dry fire the 586 until it is blue in the face over the next few weeks. I don't plan on touching the internals at all, I am not that far along in my handgunning developement.

Thanks everybody, I will work the action until it smooths up and lightens up some. Also, does cocking the hammer manually work the action differently than double action dry firing?

Snapping Twig
June 25, 2008, 01:19 PM
The bore axis on the 586 is lower than the bore axis on the 28 giving you a different felt recoil.

I'm a big fan of N frames and I typically shoot them better, but with practice I have become efficient with a 4" 686.

I'd highly advise checking out the proper proceedure for removal of the side plate and doing so. A good cleaning and oiling should help to make your 586 acceptable, not to mention the ability to service your 28 as they are identical in this way.

Action jobs are a good thing, but don't learn on your 586, have a pro do it or read up prior to doing it and remember, less is more. You can always polish more, but you can't add metal.

My 686 is the equivalent of any of my other vintage S&W's, including custom worked pieces with professional action jobs. Your 586 has great potential - it's a keeper.

June 25, 2008, 01:57 PM
I don't plan on touching the internals at all, I am not that far along in my handgunning developement

Replacing the trigger rebound spring is so easy a caveman could do it. ;)

You can look here (http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=5&f=33&t=57186) for instructions. I would strongly recommend buying the rebound spring tool from Brownells or another source though. It's not necessary, but I'm sure it makes life much easier(I still haven't bought one yet).

June 25, 2008, 02:50 PM
Maybe, just maybe, the N frame fits you better than the L frame. After all, my 586 is the most accurate handgun in my safe.

June 25, 2008, 03:08 PM
I think you're right CAS, at least the stage of learning I am at I am better at shooting with the N frame, even the sights I like better than the distracting red thing on the front of the 586. I will get to know it well this summer though, because it is beautiful and I thought about trading it in towards something else, but I can't. I have raging seller's remorse to this day over a Ruger P89DC I didn't even like.

June 25, 2008, 03:28 PM
Your S&W will function with the sideplate removed. If you want to see how DA/SA function differently inside the gun just pop the plate off (carefully!) and watch the insides as you dry fire the gun. The sideplate was buggered a bit on my 67 so it has been a hassle to remove or reinstall but it shouldn't be difficult if yours is in good shape.

Changing the trigger return spring would be easy but there's no good reason to do it. It is a small part of the trigger equation and it shouldn't be a problem, even if you're a competitive shooter.

June 25, 2008, 03:41 PM
My 4" 686 no dash had a great trigger, but I traded it for a 28 that has a very good trigger. I still have my 2 1/2" 686 which has a very good trigger. My 14-3 has a superb trigger. I suspect an action job. My 10-6 has a nice trigger, but not as good as the others. My new to me 1955 Target has a really nice trigger, almost as nice as my 14-3. My model 15's trigger was about the same as the model 10-6.

It just seems to vary from gun to gun and model to model. :)

June 25, 2008, 04:37 PM
I don't think I will do much to it, dry fire hundreds of times in the evening, maybe see if I have a screwdriver that will fit the sideplate safely, so I can clean the insides a bit and get it oiled up. I should try to use a minimum of oil in the action right?

June 25, 2008, 05:12 PM
Changing the trigger return spring would be easy but there's no good reason to do it. It is a small part of the trigger equation and it shouldn't be a problem, even if you're a competitive shooter.

Actually, there is. If you'll follow the link I posted earlier, going to a fourteen pound rebound spring knocked around 4 pounds off the DA pull, and around 2 pounds off the SA pull on the M66 I used. That equates to a DA pull around 9 pounds and a SA pull of 2-2.5 pounds. It's not an action job, but it helps quite a bit.

June 25, 2008, 06:03 PM
Use snap caps when dry firing. It reduces wear and tear, even if the gun is rated for dry firing.

My daddy always told me to try the simplest thing first. If your revolver really is below par, I'd pull the side plate to make sure it's clean and properly lubricated. It may be just gummy oil. While open, you can look over the innards with a magnifying glass and see if there any visible anomolies. The trick to remiving the side plate: First, make sure you have a good quality screw driver with an EXACT fit to the screws. More damage is done to guns with poorly fitted screw drivers than anything else. Once the screws are out DO NOT pry off the side plate. The trick is to remove the grips (Which in some cases is required to access all the side plate screws.) then, holding the revolver by the barrel flat with side plate up, gently tap the grip frame with a mallet to work the side plate loose.

June 25, 2008, 09:33 PM
Replacing the trigger spring may be of use to someone else. It didn't help my gun any. The action was changed to a point where the whole system felt awkward. I felt the same when when I swapped the trigger return in my security six. In my experuence there's a lot of work to be done before trying to change the trigger reset. Also, don't try to make your Ruger pull like a S&W either.

June 25, 2008, 10:04 PM
It's so easy putting a nice trigger on a 586 that it's really worth learning how to do it yourself. First, you need to reduce your mainspring pressure. Easing out the tension with the tension screw is not a good way of doing this. Buying a Wolf spring kit is. Or, if you're into doing things yourself, you can remove the flat mainspring and file a little off each side of the spring. Care must be taken not to take off too much, but you can do it nice and slow.

You're also going to have to learn how to remove the side plate. No one wants to do it if they've never done it before, but it's not a big deal. Just remove the screws (using a hollow ground (not tapered) screwdriver), and, using a rubber mallet, tap the grip frame lightly but sharply. That side plate will pop out with no prying, just like a loose tooth. If it doesn't come out, hit a bit harder.

Removing the rebound spring also is a cinch, but requires care unless you want to lose the spring. Wear safety glasses and use a small screw driver to ease up the rebound spring housing. Keep your thumb over it and it will stop the spring so you can remove it. I generally take off 1.5 coils and place it back into the housing. With a little trial and error, you'll get it in with no problem. Oh, and before you replace the spring, take a stone and smooth both the bottom of the housing and the bottom of the frame where it runs. For the housing, its best to keep the stone flat and steady and move the housing over the stone until it becomes smooth as glass. Use the stone against the frame, but take care that your strokes keep that area nice and flat. Use almost no lubricant but what you can rub on with your finger.

Getting the side plate back on is easy if you go slow. Put the north end of the plate in place and just move the plate gently until it seats. Once it feels in place, tap it once or twice with the rubber mallet to seat it fully. If it doesn't go down immediately, keep working with it. It will fit in, just don't use any force.

I ground down my own main springs with a Dremel because I had stainless guns and the mainsprings were stainless, but the Wolf springs were not. It's no big deal and it's nice to know just in case your gun develops problems down the line. Once the rebound spring and housing are out, you can see how the other parts in the gun work together. At that point they're easy to remove, though there's no reason to except for curiosity. Just be aware of things that are under tension.

Don't know if it's wise to mess around with the trigger/hammer these days. I stay away from it except in Ruger handguns. For S&W, just lightening the springs and doing a little smoothing will make a great difference. You might check here for complete instructions (http://smith-wessonforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/530103904/m/875107028/p/6). (I just found it now or I wouldn't have typed all the above.)

Anyway, good luck. And make sure you don't get rid of that 586. You'll love it.

June 25, 2008, 10:43 PM
Yeah it definitely is not subpar, it's just letting me know it hasn't gotten the loving use it deserves. The guy I bought it from said tthere was less than a box fired through it, and I believe him. I have not put enough rounds downrange through any of my guns, but especially not the 586. It is lovely, though I think a 5" barrel would be perfect

June 26, 2008, 03:23 AM
NG VI, even if you don't want to dive into the smoothing and spring alterations, you should at least take the sideplate off and have a look inside. My last used Smith was gritty and rough, and when I got the sideplate off, I found it was full of dried oil and metal shavings. Ten minutes with a Q-tip and a few shots of Gun Scrubber, and it was 150% better.

BTW, the instructions above are very well written, and exactly describe what I do to my guns. There are few things that feel as good as a well-executed trigger job you did yourself!


June 26, 2008, 05:31 PM
I have carried both a M-28 and a 586 on duty. Both 6" tubes. Once I finished with the action on the 586 it was as smooth and proper as the tried and proven M-28. In the 586 you have a sort of "crossover" between the N frame and the K frame...smaller grip but a large cylinder. I think I saw it credited to Skeeter Skelton that the big frame Smiths seem to take on a life of their own when you're firing them...Once you get that cylinder mass moving it is "pull and aim". My L frame 586 was every ounce as smooth and accurate as the M-28. Regards; Al

June 26, 2008, 06:14 PM
Think you may have it a bit mixed up, L frames (six shot anyway) are a small cylinder with a bigger frame. appreciate the advice though, very helpful. I need to work it out in celebration of the D.C. ruling this weekend!

June 26, 2008, 06:40 PM
No, he doesn't have it mixed up, he just didn't make it super clear to follow. I understood Aryfrosty to mean:

"Small grip like the K frame but larger cylinder more like the N"

The L shares the same, smaller grips frame as the K. It's frame is larger than the K, and so is it's cylinder. The cylinder on an L is 1/8" in diameter larger than a K frame cylinder. That is what allows it to house seven rounds in the plus version and .44 specials in other configurations, which a K frame cylinder is not capable of doing.

June 26, 2008, 06:59 PM
Thanks Kamerer, I wasn't real clear was I?

June 26, 2008, 07:30 PM
Thanks Kamerer, I wasn't real clear was I?

Well, I understood you! We all have our moments of vagueness...;)

June 27, 2008, 12:37 AM
I could be a wisinghimmer and say the reasion is that the 586 is not a N frame gun.

June 27, 2008, 01:00 AM
I could be a wisinghimmer and say the reasion is that the 586 is not a N frame gun.

Yes, you could, but those of us who love both would stomp on your head and make you regret it! ;)

Seriously, we are talking shades of grey. I have weighed on a postal scale both my 4" 28, kitted with it's original factory magnas, and my 686 4" with simlarly weighted K targets. Both clocked in at the exact weight, to within 1/2 an ounce - 41 ounces. The only real appreciation that made a difference was the L frame was a full lug, slightly lower frame (lower bore axis vs. grip). It added up to being smoother in the hand - but it was trick of physics and not an inherent strength or reliability issue. For larger hands, the difference would be smaller or negative, as the bigger grip on an N fit better.

I really think the difference in whether an L vs. N is better for you is in your hand size and how picky you are about return-to-target time, like on a timed course vs. not really noticing on a typical target range.

Personally I have resolved my differences by selling my 4" HP and getting a 3.5" 27. The 27 handles about the same as the 4" 686 and both feel awesome. Getting rid of that 1/2" on the N made them about equal in balance.

June 27, 2008, 10:27 AM
"Small grip like the K frame but larger cylinder more like the N"

Ok, my mistake. I am not very familiar with revolvers, I know most of the absolute basics but that is all. I was going more from the clear size difference between the N and L frame cylinders, and just assumed the L and K must be very similiar in dimensions.

Thanks! Sorry arfrosty!

Jim K
June 27, 2008, 11:12 AM
Before anyone without experience goes into a revolver, there are a couple of things you can do.

First, remove the grips. Then cock the hammer and spray the heck out of the inside with a gun cleaner (I prefer G96 Gun Treatment) and let the gun drain. Do this several times. Then put about 4 drops of good gun oil ahead of the cocked hammer, and 2 into the space ahead of the trigger.

If the pull is still rough or sticky, then get out the screwdriver or contact a gunsmith.


June 27, 2008, 11:20 AM
By kamerer: Build time, in my opinion, matters quite a bit. I have found 1980s vintage S&Ws to have great triggers. my 686 is great, but it still wasn't as good as a 28-2 I had that was built late 70s. I believe it MUST have had an action job, it was just that smooth.

I had fired my father's 28-2 a very long time ago so when I got my 686-1 I didn't have much to compare it to. Last month I shot the 28 again and found a big difference with the triggers.

I got my 686 used and have personally put over 300 rounds through it plus an untold number of dry fires. The M-28 used to be a NY State Trooper gun in the 80's so I'm *assuming* it had been fired much more and that may be part of the reason for it being smoother.

Another side note, I found it a lot easier to clean the 28. Maybe the color has something to do with not seeing as much fouling? Not sure, but I cleaned it until the patches/rags were clean. (they both had around 100 rounds through them too.)

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