S&w 686


September 8, 2009, 10:00 AM
I'm considering a S&W .357 686 purchase.

For reloading purposes, I would want to reload the 38 Special ammo. Would someone have some advice as to bullet size (gn) etc for reloading. I'm not sure which bullets to purchase.

Also, what's a "wadcutter"?

I reload for my 9mm and know I have to buy new dies etc. But I'm unsure as to what grain size the bullet should/could be. Is it just a matter of checking my reload manual?

Looking for direction...thanks in advance.

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September 8, 2009, 10:35 AM
125, 140, & 158 are the most common weights for .38/.358, with 125 & 158 being the most popular. Some handguns like 125 & some like 158, while some like em both.

A wadcutter is flat at the front, generally seated completly down in the case, flush with the case mouth. Designed for target shooting. There are hollow based WC's,(HBWC), and solid WC'S. (DEWC)

September 8, 2009, 10:40 AM
Thanks Walkalong. If I plan only to shoot targets (which is how I am planning on using the gun) then it sort of sounds like I should look into wadcutters?

Are they generally cheaper (less expensive) bulllets? About the same as others?

Thanks again for your time.


September 8, 2009, 10:46 AM
I had a 586 (a blued 686) which performed well using a 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter over 4.5 grains of Unique and a Winchester Small Pistol primer. Also developed a good .357 load using a 158 grain semi-jacketed hollow point, 10.3 grains of Blue Dot, and a Winchester Small Pistol primer.

September 8, 2009, 12:35 PM
Wadcutters are generally pretty cheap. You can buy dies for them and cast your own. Theres always a guy at my local gunshow that sells bullets he casts for cheap... a coupla bucks for a bag of 100.

The load I'm working with out of my 6" 686 right now is 5.2gr HS6 and a 148gr lead semi-wadcutter, win brass, win primer.

September 8, 2009, 12:59 PM

any problems with police range brass that's been picked up?

September 8, 2009, 02:27 PM
Just inspect it for spider nests, rocks, and defects.

As you sould always do anyway.


September 8, 2009, 05:41 PM
90% or better of my .38 brass is range brass. Like rcmodel posted, just give it a good inspection, inside and out. :)

September 8, 2009, 08:49 PM
I'd recommend loading light 357 loads rather than 38 special. You'll avoid the carbon ring in the cylinder and the loads are easy to control in that heavy gun.

September 8, 2009, 09:23 PM
Here is a really nice article about wadcutters and the proper loading with diffent powders


September 8, 2009, 10:02 PM
Mine likes 158 gr. I like semi wadcutters for use in both 38 and 357 brass. You can use the same dies for both. I built a spacer to add for the 357 brass to save adjusting the dies each time.

September 9, 2009, 04:53 AM
I own a M686-2 and shoot it on every range trip which is at least once a week. I was shooting 148gr wadcutters but since the prices are so close on the 158gr SWC bullets that's all I shoot now. The above suggestion of using .357 Magnum brass would be a good one if the .357 Magnum brass wasn't so expensive and hard to find. IMO you have to clean your revolver after shooting it anyway so I see no problem with using .38 Special brass.

My favorite powder for plinking and target .38 Special ammo is W231 (or HP-38 which is the same exact powder) It's a versatile, accurate and clean powder IMO, what more could you ask for?

September 9, 2009, 01:27 PM
Using 38 sp brass in a 357 not only leaves a carbon ring in the chambers,, over time and lots of rounds, will flame cut your chambers.
To the point a 357 case won't eject.
I have an Old Model Ruger single that I can't shoot 357 brass any more,, have to drive the cases out and you can see where the case expanded into the deep groove.

September 9, 2009, 04:40 PM
PotatoJudge has the right idea; I have a 686, you will love the pistol, and use 125gr "cowboy bullets" in .357 cases with a light load of 700x, clays, or even Trailboss. All of these give accurate, pleasant target loads without the carbon ring that has been mentioned. Enjoy your new pistol.


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