I have "DECIDED" on the 686 SS BUT which one??


February 22, 2011, 09:52 PM
Thank-you all for your responses - I really appreciate it. I have decided to buy the 686 stainless steel and follow people's directions on polishing it. Now I have some more questions:

1. Should I buy the 686 or 686+ ?
2. Should I buy the 4"or 6" ? - I held both of them today (686+ - that is all the dealer had) and I "seem" to prefer the 4" for dual purpose - home defense and carry


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February 22, 2011, 10:19 PM
I vote "686"-4".:) I have a 681 4", that I have had for 20+years, that shoots great+has a super smooth action..;) It has been a good one for me..Bill.

February 23, 2011, 02:12 PM
Uh...buy whatever you want? :) I can only tell you what I prefer, and that would be the 4" Plus model.

February 23, 2011, 02:24 PM
The 357 magnum in a handgun is at it's best in barrels 6" +. For every 1/2" in reduction one loses significant velocity/energy. A 4" barrel was a compromise for carry and not for any other reason. A 4" will do a very good job in 99% of situations aside from long range deer/hog hunting. I carry a 3" 357 knowing that it is purely for SD @ ~25 yards.
So if you are buying for SD/HD, a 4"/6" is the same for me as both need a holster. For hunting/target/woods, I would go for the 6". My $.02
I do prefer a 686 in 6", it balances much better than a 4".

February 23, 2011, 02:57 PM
Good advice from all I had to make the same decision when I bought my 686. I definately went for the 686+ I am always in favor of extra capacity.

If you are looking for a dual purpose HD/Woods gun, I would go with a 4". If you feel like really packing you can even decide to carry it for SD.

If you're mainly going to use it as a woods/hunting gun then definately go with the 6" model.

So yes, I'm parroting george29's response, but he's right on the money, just felt like I had to chime in.

February 23, 2011, 03:04 PM
For defense/woods gun, I'll echo the 4" barrel version if you intend on carrying it.

Between the normal one, and the plus, you'll have to try them both out. It seems like a tiny difference, but the change in the cylinder for the extra round also changes the timing of the action. That means the triggers feel different between the two guns.

February 23, 2011, 03:34 PM
I prefer 6" revolvers if I'm going to be able to use a rest when I shoot. If not, then I will opt for a 4". 6" barrels are just too muzzle-heavy for me to accurately shoot offhand. 4" balances better for me.

February 23, 2011, 03:35 PM
It's tough to beat the versatility of a 4" 6-shot .357mag, so I vote for the 4" 686.

Multitudes of people feel confident with 5 rounds in their J-frame for SD, and many more relied on a 6-shooter before they realized a 7th was needed. There are better speedloader options for the 6-shot variety as well. And if you ever get the itch to dabble in a local match, the rules may very well limit you to 6 anyway, in which case your 7-shooter would actually put you at a disadvantage, ironically enough.

February 23, 2011, 04:29 PM
I had a 686 4" Bbl. - with the muzzle blast/flash I would not go
any shorter in Bbl. Length - 4" vs 6" depends on what you want to
use it for. If you have the patience look for one, S&W made a couple
of runs of 5" Bbl. no lock models back in the '80s or '0s.


February 23, 2011, 05:07 PM
For self-defense, there's no downside to having the extra round on board (seven as opposed to six). No reason why you shouldn't get the "Plus" version imo. And for what you apparently have in mind as to the revolver's intended use ("dual purpose-home defense and carry"), I'd certainly opt for the 4" model.

February 23, 2011, 06:22 PM
Just picked up a 686-6(+) in 5". Appears TALO commissioned a run and they have not done as well as hoped. There was a bit of an incentive to go this route. If I were thinking CCW I go with a six shot 3"or 4". The plus seems to need an N-frame holster.

Ditto the 681-1. There have been a few returned from Canada in the near past. They are a super carry revolver.

February 23, 2011, 09:21 PM
Uh...buy whatever you want? I can only tell you what I prefer, and that would be the 4" Plus model.

What he said; I love mine!

Hondo 60
February 24, 2011, 01:01 AM
I have a couple of 4", so if it were me?
I'd go with the 6.

A 6" is going to be just a bit more accurate that the same gun with a 4" barrel.

February 24, 2011, 03:45 PM
The op said that he planned on carrying the revolver for self-defense, in which case the 4" barrel would seem to make more sense than the 6" version for said purpose. There should be no difference in the intrinsic accuracy potential between the 4" and 6" barrels. Someone might be able to shoot a 6" length better than a 4" length barrel but that would be because a greater sight radius makes it potentially easier for a given shooter to shoot more accurately, not because a 6" barrel is inherently more accurate.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
February 24, 2011, 04:32 PM
I had a 6" that I wore everywhere, and I put at least 10,000 rounds through that gun. I always kept it clean. I had a special cloth for stainless that would literally rub the carbon off, even off the front of the cylinder! When I sold that gun, it looked like it had perhaps a box or two through it!

It was another one of those "should have kept" guns. However, that being said, I have learned the hard way, no matter what, don't trade or sell any guns. I don't have many but what I do have I like and shoot them quite well!:cool:

February 24, 2011, 06:20 PM
I have both the 4" and 6" and both shoot extremely well although I shoot the 6" slightly better due to the extra sight radius. If I carried the weapon daily, I would choose the 4". If it was strictly for home defense, hunting and range use, it would be the 6". As far as it being a standard or plus model, I think it is a matter of personal preference. The 686 is an outstanding 357.

February 24, 2011, 07:18 PM
I love my 686-6 4". I took out the lock, polished and deburred all the internals where needed. Then I polished the outside with Mother's. It's a joy to shoot, smooth as silk in DA and very crisp and light in SA. Zero end shake, tight lock-up, .006 gap. Accuracy is way better than I am.

February 24, 2011, 09:27 PM
Hello Walt - Thank-you for your response AND your BEAUTIFUL picture - that is what I want my gun to look like after I polish it. How many coats of Mother's did it take and what type of Mother's did you use?

I am planning on ordering the gun this weekend so I will see what other responses I get BUT I think I am sold on 4" NOW I just have to decide on 686 or 686+


February 25, 2011, 06:12 AM
Is your 5 inch 686+ the slabbed sided barrel Pro model? If so do you mind posting some pics and a review? I'm interested in getting one myself.

February 25, 2011, 06:30 PM
Iv, I couldn't tell you how many. I give it a new coat about every third cleaning.
The initial polishing was done coat after coat until I was happy, many hours worth.
Have fun, it's a rewarding project!

February 25, 2011, 09:16 PM
For me its a 6 shot prelock 686 4 inch barrel. Here is mine.

Brian Williams
February 26, 2011, 03:03 PM
Go with the 6 shot, you will find more speedloaders for it.

February 26, 2011, 06:29 PM
If it's your first,,, get a 4" to meet your needs. The 6" or better will follow. :)

Here is my 686+. I polished it to a dripping wet look. Lapped out the barrel with a very quick polish. Bead Blasted the trigger and hammer to match cylinder release. I stoned out the lock work installed a spring kit and shimmed out the trigger and hammer.

It tis a shooter

jim goose
February 27, 2011, 10:15 AM
I have a 6" +. Wonderful gun. But hard to find holsters etc..not a carry gun.

A 4" would be a one quiver gun. I ponder trading down in length as I would get more use out of it.

February 27, 2011, 10:27 AM
All 686's are stainless, 586 is the other one. The two I have were the first generation 4" and 6". I use the 4" the most but the gun games I play limit you to 4" and 6 shots.

February 27, 2011, 10:35 AM
Let me reiterate RX-178's remarks about 6 vs 7. A great deal of the double action feel in Smith revos is based on the fitting and geometry of the hand and ratchet; advancing the cylinder by 1/7 vs 1/6 will make a difference. I'd try to feel both before buying. This really only matters for double action.
Previously owned both a 4" and a 6", alas long gone. The 4" felt infinitely better for balance; the lugged 6" was muzzle heavy. If you're actually going to carry it, as contrasted to hunt with it, the 4" is the only way to go.
For accuracy, from a machine rest, no difference. Real world, more sight radius wins, and of course there is more horsepower in the longer tube.

February 28, 2011, 02:40 AM
I have (3) 686's, all 7 shot. I have a 4", a 5" and a 6". I shoot them often. I favor the 6" cause of the balance, the increased velocity and recoil management. I shoot it much better than the 4" and the 5". It is a Model 686-4 with a pinned hammer and the action is considerably smoother than the later versions. It has a case hardened hammer and trigger, is pre-lock and pre MIM parts. My opinion is that the pinned hammer gives more reliable primer ignition with a lightened action that a frame-mounted firing pin. The trigger in the 6" 686 is thinner than the later models, which is much more comfortable for double action shooting. I have looked hard for a similar model in a 4" version for carry, and it seems very difficult to find.

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