S&W 686 triggers: new vs. old.


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P95loser
July 16, 2008, 11:57 PM
I just took delivery of my latest wheel gun. It is a 686 plus 2.5" with lock. I purchased this gun because I loved my 4" 686 (no dash) that was made in '83. One of the best things about that old gun is the butter-like trigger pull.

So, I go and pick up the newer 686 from my ffl and pull the trigger. Trigger pull on the new gun is a lot harder, not NEAR as smooth, and to top it all of it makes an awful clanging noise (like metal reverberating). My gunsmith/ffl told me that was normal for the new smiths.

Is that true and if so, is there anything I can do to make that trigger anywhere near the old one?

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Thaddeus Jones
July 17, 2008, 09:40 AM
You could try dry firing it a few hundred times, while watching TV.

A friend of mine who didn't listen to me, bought one of the 3" wind up 686's. He was also disapointed. He said dry firing it helped, but thought the new S&W revolver sucked, and traded it. Good luck!

Hawk
July 17, 2008, 10:36 AM
A revolver is like a box of chocolates...

I've got several of the older S&Ws and they are by no means uniformly smoother or lighter than the new ones I've tried - even within the same series.

Thus far the grottiest ones are from 'Nam era Bangor Punta - pinned and recessed is no guarantor of high quality and the clock key is no guarantor of low quality. It's a crap shoot.

One's odds of getting a really smooth P&R are good, somewhat less good during certain eras but good nonetheless. I'm doing my best to see to it that their reputation remains unsullied by diligently removing the worst of the stinkers from the marketplace.

Thus far I've removed a grotty 57 and nasty 28-2, both P&R. The 57 had timing issues out of the (wooden) box and a poor trigger and the 28-2 had the singular worst trigger ever inflicted on a P&R.

No need to thank me - it's a service to the community.
;)

The_Shootist
July 17, 2008, 10:40 AM
....are one of the reasons I'll always have my prelock 686+, which I bought about 10 years ago. Firing it side by side next to my M85 or SP 101 and how smooth and accurate it is always amazes me.

MrBorland
July 17, 2008, 11:34 AM
I've got a 60's era Model 10 and a 1951 K-22 Masterpiece. I've also got a new 617, 64 and 686. I'm either a trigger philistine or a trigger snob, but I can't say that my old DA triggers are any better than the new: All are acceptable from the factory, but would likely benefit from a good action job.

Hawk
July 17, 2008, 12:22 PM
A Philistine or a snob: that covers the waterfront. :D

I notice a difference in S&W triggers, just not one that follows much of a pattern. Some of the nicest are a 686 and a 27-2; some of the least nice are a (different) 686 and a 28-2. None are new.

The Miculek "trigger job" DVD is pretty good at keeping us revolver noobs away from the ticklish parts but, when combined with a Brownell's stone set left over from the 1911s, produces pretty decent results. The 28-2 is now servicable.

In the DVD he makes mention that all he's doing in artificially wearing the surfaces to duplicate x thousands of rounds. It may be that what some are seeing as the superior trigger in this or that S&W is merely the most used trigger.

I still wouldn't dare crack the sternum of a Colt, but the DVD makes a servicable S&W diversion while one waits on Grant Cunninghams list. My DVD-inspired efforts would be nothing like what a professional would produce but they were decidedly better than nothing. FWIW.

machinisttx
July 17, 2008, 03:33 PM
I have accumulated a fair number of S&W's over the past couple of years, ranging from 30s production up to 1999. I have exactly one S&W with a less than stellar trigger, and it's a nearly unused M31-1. The original owner purchased it in the early 1980s.

Use will smooth them out. My 28-2 shows extensive use, and has a trigger you wouldn't believe. I haven't put a scale on it, but it's lighter than the 2.5 pound trigger on my 2.5" M66(it was 4 pounds when I got it, changing the rebound spring dropped it down to 2.5)

If nothing else, pop the sideplate and fill it with toothpaste. Reinstall the sideplate and dry fire it one or two hundred times. Pop the sideplate and clean everything out, then relube and reinstall the sideplate. I'd imagine you'll have a much better trigger.

OH25shooter
July 17, 2008, 03:43 PM
I've heard many revolver owners say, the more you shoot it, the trigger will smooth out. Personally, I think that is BS. I have a 686-5, with no lock, manufactured in 2000, one of the last, according to S&W. The trigger was ok, but I had a gunsmith do a trigger job and the difference was amazing. You want a smooth, clean crisp trigger? Drop some cash and get a trigger job, and don't worry about shooting 1000 rounds or pulling the trigger while eating your dessert in front of the television.

MrBorland
July 17, 2008, 05:03 PM
I've heard many revolver owners say, the more you shoot it, the trigger will smooth out. Personally, I think that is BS.

A qualified +1. I tend to think it's BS, too, but admit I also tend to read into the ol' dry-fire-til-smooth dogma some implicit suggestion that dry firing for a few thousand rounds is just as good as and a substitute for a good action job.

I'll concede that maaaaaaybe dry firing my revolvers many thousands of times has smoothed them over a wee bit, but I sure hope and expect that I'd note a significant improvement after being worked over by a good 'smith.

Hawk
July 17, 2008, 05:24 PM
I've heard many revolver owners say, the more you shoot it, the trigger will smooth out. Personally, I think that is BS.

I'll offer a qualified - (minus) 1

Jerry Miculek states in his DVD that his "trigger job" is essentially duplicating the effect of several thousands of cycles. He appeared to be talking on behalf of himself as a shooter and Clark Custom as gunsmiths. Not exactly chopped liver.

That said, he was clear that it was thousands of cycles and I have neither the time nor the inclination to proceed in that manner. But if Jerry Miculek / Clark Custom say they're not doing anything that thousands of cycles wouldn't do, I'm inclined to take it at face value.

This doesn't include the work done on the cylinder release to ease tension or spring changes - he was talking "smooth" as opposed to "light".

machinisttx
July 17, 2008, 06:14 PM
I've heard many revolver owners say, the more you shoot it, the trigger will smooth out. Personally, I think that is BS. I have a 686-5, with no lock, manufactured in 2000, one of the last, according to S&W.

S&W used to recommend 10,000 dry fires(or live rounds) before even thinking about a trigger job. Why do you think that was? :confused:

sparkyguy
July 17, 2008, 08:37 PM
OH25shooter wrote:
I've heard many revolver owners say, the more you shoot it, the trigger will smooth out. Personally, I think that is BS. I have a 686-5, with no lock, manufactured in 2000, one of the last, according to S&W. The trigger was ok, but I had a gunsmith do a trigger job and the difference was amazing. You want a smooth, clean crisp trigger? Drop some cash and get a trigger job, and don't worry about shooting 1000 rounds or pulling the trigger while eating your dessert in front of the television.

I've also got a 686-5 manufactured around that time, maybe earlier. Before it got sent back to S&W to fix a firing pin issue, it had a very good trigger to it in DA, in SA it was almost hair-trigger.:eek: Although I didn't ask for a trigger job, I suspect something was done as the DA is now smooth as butter. SA is about the same, and I like it that way. I do, however, disagree with you regarding "more you shoot, the trigger will smooth out" area, buckeye.:neener: Before the S&W send-back, I dry-fired alot at the tv, and believe it helped from when I had bought it.
http://a897.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images01/101/l_a92df8caefa137e52d45e2ff821b2708.jpg

PS: Penn State RULES! :neener::D

10beers
July 17, 2008, 08:48 PM
I have a 686-3, 2.5" (wood finger groove grips), with a trigger that is smooth as silk, great wheel gun.............

pinkymingeo
July 17, 2008, 09:31 PM
Pull the sideplate, clean and lubricate. You might be amazed.

rodinal220
July 17, 2008, 10:35 PM
The new S&Ws with the lock and MIM internals cant hold a candle to the old forged and milled guns.I think its a crime what S&W did and I wont buy something with a lockwork that resembles a Matchbox car.My old lockwork guns are smooth as owl snot.I have shot the new guns and while they look nice they are not as smooth as the old ones.

P95loser
July 17, 2008, 10:54 PM
Pull the sideplate, clean and lubricate. You might be amazed.

Did that before I ever posted this... I dry fired it while driving around today and ran a few rounds through it, trigger is getting better (or I'm getting used to it).

I still cant get over that reverberating metal sound when the hammer drops though... does it have something to do with the lock or the firing pin block? I have a new model 637 and it doesn't clang like that.

OH25shooter
July 18, 2008, 08:05 AM
PS: Penn State RULES!

Great reply...:) But, I wish your Nittanny Lions could give the Buckeyes some competition this season. I thought you guys were going to add strength to the overrated, weak Big Ten. Besides, we'll need the practice for another championship loss. :uhoh:

machinisttx
July 18, 2008, 10:24 PM
The new S&Ws with the lock and MIM internals cant hold a candle to the old forged and milled guns.I think its a crime what S&W did and I wont buy something with a lockwork that resembles a Matchbox car.My old lockwork guns are smooth as owl snot.I have shot the new guns and while they look nice they are not as smooth as the old ones.

I've seen better finished MIM parts than some of the older forged parts S&W used to use. I've seen it the other way around too. The rebound slide on my 17-2 looked like a beaver gnawed it out of a larger chunk of steel, yet the rebound slides in both of my 90s production M66's are smooth as glass.

Old Fuff
July 19, 2008, 12:34 AM
The trouble with you young guys is that you're... well... too young, still wet behind the ears and all that... :neener:

The best double-actions on a Smith & Wesson occured during the 1920's and 30's. Those were the revolvers that Ed. McGivern used to make his reputation for fast and fancy shooting. Anyone who has pulled one down and examined it knows why. The internal parts are as hard as glass, and equally smooth. The fitting is precise and there is no feeling of roughness as the parts miove. K-frame Military & Police .38's are sometimes found in "like new" condition for under $400, and sometimes much less.

RON in PA
July 19, 2008, 02:22 AM
How can you possibly compare the trigger of a new gun with that of a 25 year old gun that has been shot and dry fired over that period?

In my experience one needs to shoot a new handgun approx. 1,000 times to fairly evaluate the trigger. That's my experience with MIM hammers and triggers in a 625, 627, model 10 and a 22-4. They dramatically smooth up.

The Mikulek DVD was mentioned, in it JM states that his trigger job is the equivalent of 6,000 shots.

TOGGLELOCK
July 19, 2008, 09:32 AM
My suggestion is to send the gun to S&W Performance Shop if you want good action work. Myself, I am a S&W Armorer and see things in that film that are not proper. When Jerry stones the pins on the side of the hammer - now that makes me laugh. Bushings sitting in the frame prevent from the hammer even contacting the sides of the hammer - unless your hammer studs are bent. He does nothing to talk about the cylinder stop fitting, ratchet equalization and sear fitting. Let S&W do you work............. TOGGLELOCK

batmann
July 19, 2008, 12:16 PM
Togglelock, GREAT advice!
The rap on the new S&W seems to be the MIM parts. They are as good or better than the forged parts. The reason most don't like 'em is--they are just different.
That 'funny' sound is, I think, the frame mounted firing pin, it gives a slightly hollow sound.

Noxx
July 19, 2008, 12:26 PM
The only lock type S&W I have is my 642, and the trigger pull on that is supposed to be a bit outrageous anyway, altho I do find it smooth, just very, very heavy.

Both of my 686's are from the 80's, and both of them have the best triggers I've ever felt on a handgun.

357wheelgunner
July 19, 2008, 12:26 PM
I have new and old K-frames, and the new guns definately have a harder trigger pull. It's smooth, but stiff. It doesn't bother me, my post lock K-frame is my carry beater and I don't mind a stiff double action pull.

There is definately a difference in trigger pull between newer and older S&Ws.

TOGGLELOCK
July 19, 2008, 07:32 PM
Togglelock, GREAT advice!
The rap on the new S&W seems to be the MIM parts. They are as good or better than the forged parts. The reason most don't like 'em is--they are just different.
That 'funny' sound is, I think, the frame mounted firing pin, it gives a slightly hollow sound.

Batman:
Let me address a few things about the MIM vs. Machined parts. First, MIM is a lot cheaper cost to the factory. While filing to fit MIM parts, I did notice the following: When you file a MIM double action sear you'll notice that it is much like filing a part made of plastic with a wooden file. MIM is very tough, does not cut down that easy. Cuts clean, but MIM is slow to take down even with a #1 Cut production file. While you file, you'll see how slow the material removal process is compared to a forged steel part which is more adapt to filing and fitting. MIM is very tough, does not build up internal stresses when produced properly and resistant to abrasion in general. Even the quality MIM parts are very hard to finish with chemical salts and such compared to steel. MIM is not 100% dense and the parts do not wear so cleanly compared to steel forgings which smooth out and hold their precise engagement much longer. The sear on the MIM is like a jigsaw puzzle and not pinned to the hammer like the older steel double action sear. Overall, cheap when eveyone was down on the industry and that made sense. However, we need to get back to modern precision and steel components considering the quality of the other components. When the Performance Center does a trigger job with MIM. The parts are in the white and fit to the pistol in question. Then the MIM parts are finished after fitting. But just the same, people are down on MIM. You can't mix a MIM with a Machined Steel Part. Does that tell you anything? Even my buddies in the industry still like steel internals. TOGGLELOCK

machinisttx
July 22, 2008, 02:12 AM
MIM is very tough, does not cut down that easy. Cuts clean, but MIM is slow to take down even with a #1 Cut production file. While you file, you'll see how slow the material removal process is compared to a forged steel part which is more adapt to filing and fitting.

I'm no genius, and not an S&W armorer, but I am a machinist experienced with working hardened steel. Files are generally in the 60s on the Rockwell C scale for hardness. They don't cut well, and dull quickly when used on steels in the 40+ Rockwell C scale range, particularly those which have wear resistant qualities. Abrasive metal removal methods are faster and more effective. Either precision grinding or plain old bench stones "cut" better than files at these hardness levels. The key is having the proper stone AND knowing whether it needs oil, water, or nothing to work properly. Some stones will load up if oil or water aren't used, and become ineffective. Some materials are worse about loading stones than others.


Considering the flaws I've seen in some of these MIM parts, I have to question your version of "fitting the part". I also have to question this..

The sear on the MIM is like a jigsaw puzzle and not pinned to the hammer like the older steel double action sear.

Two of my M66's were made in 1999 and undoubtedly feature MIM parts. Both have the same pinned in DA sear as my older 30's-80's production S&Ws.

Something else I am aware of, due to my trade, is the existence of cast to print parts. If properly done, MIM would be no different. When the part leaves the mold it only needs the flash and burrs, if present, removed via tumbling and dimensional inspection.

wjh2657
July 31, 2008, 09:07 AM
Just qualified for TN HCP with my 686-6, post lock, so-called piece of S---
revolver. Score was 100/100 firing out to the 25 yard range. In short I didn't drop a round out of the kill area out of 50 rounds. This was with a 2 1/4" barrel. This piece had the smoothest trigger I have ever felt on any L frame, right out of the box. A thirty year vet of USMC I am not new to handguns and have owned many S&Ws over the years, 27,25,24,686s, 19s, 65, 64X series, and 60s. Trigger on this 686 snub is very reminiscient of N-frames I've owned. Anybody who really shoots knows that you can't shoot possibles with a 2 1/4" barrel at 25 yards without a damn good trigger. I am not that good a little boy, so I don't think I was granted the only decent post-lock 686 out there.

Factory guns are a crap shoot at best. I purchased a very expensive Gold Cup Match .45 years ago for competition. It took almost as much money as the purchase price to get it to shoot and function decently.

I own several post-lock S&Ws and fire them every month. My EDC is one of two of the 64X series (depending on mode of carry, pocket or IWB.) I fire the current carry at least 50 times every two weeks and I would not hesitate to put my life on the line with either of them. If you have to spend a few more bucks on a trigger job, grow up, it's part of the game!

BTW, I still consider the 686 (post lock or not) as probably the best handful of insurance you can have!

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