S&W 686 4 in. Barrel Stopping Power


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Jake Benson
August 28, 2011, 05:01 PM
Just purchased a S&W 686. Should be here in about two days. I got the 4 in. barrel because it just felt better in my hand and I also liked the looks better than the 6 in. That was the advice of most people in this forum.

I have read many threads saying that .357 rounds from a small barrel gun, such as the S&W 649 which I also happen to own, are not that much more effective than .38's because of the short barrel. But what about the larger 686 with 4 in barrel? Basically, what I am asking is will I get my money's worth in a self defense situation using my 686 loaded with .357 ammo over .38's? I realize greater recoil, and all that, I just need to know that the .357 round is going to have superior stopping power over any .38 round.

My thinking is that surely there must be because an awful lot people buy them and they were carried by law enforcement for years.

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nebraska_farmer
August 28, 2011, 05:04 PM
It will have plenty of stopping power, just make sure you shoot what you're aiming at.

788Ham
August 28, 2011, 05:15 PM
Jake,
YES, the .357 has "more" stopping power than the .38 Spl., just as it was intended to do. Without a chrono, you won't be able to tell the difference, in the 4" VS the 6" models, they'll take care of anything you can hit with them{ within reason}. Be safe and enjoy!

357 Terms
August 28, 2011, 05:42 PM
Those that say a 357 out of a short barrel is no more powerful than a 38 dont know what they are talking about. A 357 is much more powerful than a 38 no matter what platform its delivered. Ballistics by the inch is usually mentioned, not their own data or chrony experience.

sidheshooter
August 28, 2011, 06:33 PM
The considerable track record of the best "street" .357 loads was racked up largely out of 4" tubes. IMHO, you can stick just about any reputable defensive JHP from any major maker in a 4" 686, and blithely move on to more pressing issues around self defense than ammo and platform concerns; that's the least of the problems once one is thusly equipped.

splithoof
August 28, 2011, 07:20 PM
Nebraska farmer said it best.
After that, practice, practice, practice.

dashootist
August 28, 2011, 07:41 PM
The 6" full lugged barrel is too front heavy for my taste. You made the right choice.

W.E.G.
August 28, 2011, 07:56 PM
Anybody who ever took a round of .38 or .357 between the shirt pockets was completely out of the fight after one shot.

That is all.

Brakes have "stopping power."
Projectiles achieve effect on animate objects by making holes in organs.

I once achieved a one-shot stop on a mugger by ramming the muzzle of a Model 10 into his nostril. You want to talk about stopping power. He did a complete back flip, and landed head-first in the bushes. And I never even pulled the trigger. There's your stopping power.

Jake Benson
August 28, 2011, 08:00 PM
Thanks for the input. Appreciate it.

357Shooter
August 28, 2011, 08:33 PM
Jake,
I just returned from shooting my Model 60, 2.125" (649 w/Hammer) and my 686+ 3" (which I love). Shot about 300 rounds, light, medium and near full house loads. Trust me, when you get the 686, you will not look back. A friend was shooting 38's in a 642, same 3/8 metal 8" targets, I can promise if you could get him to tell you, there is a HUGE difference. Sleep well on your purchase, you will love the gun.

jmr40
August 28, 2011, 08:34 PM
Most of the printed ballistics you see published are from longer test barrels. When shooting from shorter barreled revolvers you will get a lot less velocity than what you see in print. A 4" 357 mag has proven it is more than capable however. I wouldn't care to go any shorter than 4".

Get down to the 2-2.5" barrels and you really are not any better than 9mm +P. I can get 1200 fps with my 9mm pistols with 124 gr bullets. My 4" 357 is only slightly more than 1300 fps with 125 gr bullets. The printed ballistics say it should be 1500 fps, but that is from a 8" test barrel with no cylinder gap.

There is some truth to what you have read, but for your uses 4" is just fine. If I were using a 357 to hunt with where I really needed every fps I could get I'd want more barrel.

jimniowa
August 28, 2011, 09:13 PM
My wife completed her CCW test on site, she used a 686 4" and was the only wheel gun shooter. She had no malfunctions as a opposed to many auto shooters. I had loaded 148 HWC with 2.6 of bullseye, she shot 100 rds all on the paper at ave 15 yds. While I don't consider it a carry gun for her it is one great gun.
Jim

357Shooter
August 28, 2011, 09:30 PM
How does a 9mm+P enter into a question about 38's and 357? Just asking ... cause there are also a whole bunch of other calibers to confuse him.

pendennis
August 28, 2011, 09:50 PM
If you compare reloading tables, you'll find that the four inch barrel will lose about 100-200fps, compared to a six inch barrel. No one can really tell the difference in that velocity difference.

The .357 magnum is a real stopper, and when loaded for correctly, is perfect for self defense, and for hunting, if that's your intention.

The real edge of your 686 over J frame, is that the L frame will feel much better when you touch off the round. I realize that S&W redesigned the J frame accept the .357 magnum, but it's still much too small.

Jake Benson
August 28, 2011, 10:12 PM
Once again, thanks for the input. You guys have greatly encouraged me. On some of these forums, these guys start quoting theoretical stats that may be true in a perfect world, etc. but I can sense at times they are just quoting what they have seen or read somewhere. All I was wanting was to be assured that I made the right purchase and having the .357 was not a mistake. From what you guys have written, it appears I made the right purchase. Thanks especially Scott.


I am not wanting to play Dirty Harry or anything, I am almost 60 years old and way past that. But this world is a much more dangerous place than it was when I was young. That world is gone. I feel its time to be armed for the purpose of self defense, and I wanted to know that the .357 is going to have superior stopping power over lesser ammo. I realize being accurate and placing the shots where they need to go is of utmost importance. That said, I just wanted the most effective round possible.

Thanks again. You guys have been a bigger help than on some of these other forums where people just wanted to lecture.

ColtPythonElite
August 28, 2011, 10:24 PM
Here are the chrono numbers of the same load shot out of the same make of gun in 4" and 6". That extra two inches made little difference. I wish I had chrono pics from a 2" gun to post up...A .357 round out of a snub is superior to a .38...Sure, it's got extra muzzle blast and sound, but it also has extra performance.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=148124&stc=1&d=1314581016

And yes, for you eagle eyes, there is a flyer under the trigger on the 6" gun...LOL.

sig228
August 28, 2011, 10:36 PM
I will say this again: in my opinion, the 4" 686 is one of the best all purpose revolvers ever made. You will never have a concern about having enough firepower. Ditch the grips though. Get some like these from Ahrends:

http://www.pbase.com/jimmyk001/image/99497291.jpg

Lucky Derby
August 28, 2011, 10:52 PM
All else being equal, a .357 will be more powerful than a .38. However when fired from a short barrel, the difference is often offset by the accompanying recoil and muzzle blast. By that I mean that as the barrel get shorter, recoil and blast increase. Many people feel that the shootablity is compromised to the point that any benefit in power is not worth the increased difficulty in shooting. Therefore the recommendation for .38s out of a shorter barrel.

I do feel this way. I personally do not bother shooting .357s if the barrel is shorter than 3". By the time it gets to 4", the benefits of the .357 outwieght the downside by a good margin, IMHO.

MR.G
August 28, 2011, 11:03 PM
I have owned and shot a lot of revolvers and the S&W 686 with a 4" barrel is my favorite. Shoot both 38 special and .357 magnum from it and I don't think you will have any doubt about which one would be more effective. A .357 revolver would be my first choice against a single attacker.

Tony_the_tiger
August 28, 2011, 11:06 PM
Didn't you see this video? speer 125 gr .357 mag gold dot vs gelatin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7w4M-LNXuQ

Since most bad guys are made out of gelatin, this should show you what you need to know.

Jake Benson
August 28, 2011, 11:11 PM
Sig228,

Those grips look very sharp. I love that wood grain color. But wouldn't the rubber grips absorb recoil better than the wood? If all things are equal, I would much rather have the grips you have posted.

ColtPythonElite
August 28, 2011, 11:13 PM
Quality, beautiful grips here:

http://www.badgercustomgrips.com/smith_and_wesson_pistol_grips.php

357Shooter
August 28, 2011, 11:45 PM
Sorry, but this is ridiculous, Have you read the guy's question????
Jake Benson
Member

Jake Benson
Member


Join Date: August 19, 2011
Posts: 17
Sig228,

Those grips look very sharp. I love that wood grain color. But wouldn't the rubber grips absorb recoil better than the wood? If all things are equal, I would much rather have the grips you have posted.

Today, 10:13 PM #22
ColtPythonElite
Member


Join Date: January 8, 2011
Posts: 1,747
Quality, beautiful grips here:

http://www.badgercustomgrips.com/smi...stol_grips.php



Join Date: August 19, 2011
Posts: 17
S&W 686 4 in. Barrel Stopping Power
Just purchased a S&W 686. Should be here in about two days. I got the 4 in. barrel because it just felt better in my hand and I also liked the looks better than the 6 in. That was the advice of most people in this forum.

I have read many threads saying that .357 rounds from a small barrel gun, such as the S&W 649 which I also happen to own, are not that much more effective than .38's because of the short barrel. But what about the larger 686 with 4 in barrel? Basically, what I am asking is will I get my money's worth in a self defense situation using my 686 loaded with .357 ammo over .38's? I realize greater recoil, and all that, I just need to know that the .357 round is going to have superior stopping power over any .38 round.

My thinking is that surely there must be because an awful lot people buy them and they were carried by law enforcement for years.

I'll sign off tonight, it is not about what You like in grips, sorry but...rude

19-3Ben
August 28, 2011, 11:52 PM
Get down to the 2-2.5" barrels and you really are not any better than 9mm +P. I can get 1200 fps with my 9mm pistols with 124 gr bullets. My 4" 357 is only slightly more than 1300 fps with 125 gr bullets. The printed ballistics say it should be 1500 fps, but that is from a 8" test barrel with no cylinder gap.

Here you go. You could get 1600fps with a 4"bbl, and they disclose which real life gun was used.

DoubleTap (http://www.doubletapammo.com/php/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21_27&products_id=48).

I'm partial to their 158gr load at 1400fps from a 4" tube.

Smokey in PHX
August 29, 2011, 12:06 AM
Like everyone has stated it is hard to beat the 4" 686. You made a good purchase.

ColtPythonElite
August 29, 2011, 03:23 AM
Sorry, but this is ridiculous, Have you read the guy's question????....
I'll sign off tonight, it is not about what You like in grips, sorry but...rude


Actually, I did read his question and was trying to assure him that he made a good choice with his choice of barrel lengths in my first post and was trying to assure him that he was leaving very little on the table by choosing a 4" over a 6"...Then, someone else brought up grips and the OP said he liked wood, but wondered about comfort. At that point, I linked up some wood grips that are known for their comfort and control...I figured all of this was on topic with the OP and his 686....Some of us were just making conversation with the OP in celebration of his purchase. Thanks for the critique, though.

Fishslayer
August 29, 2011, 03:32 AM
And yes, for you eagle eyes, there is a flyer under the trigger on the 6" gun...LOL.



Gesundheit! ;)

ArchAngelCD
August 29, 2011, 04:00 AM
I'm 100% sure the .357 Magnum round will have more "stopping power" than a .38 Special will. You made a good choice and of course you can always shoot .38 Special ammo if you wish in your M686. If you can control full power .357 Magnum ammo and hit your target there isn't much in North America that will continue to pose a threat when hit. The 4" M686 is one of my favorite revolvers.

bdb benzino
August 29, 2011, 09:04 AM
357shooter,
How is showing him wood grips that he said he liked rude??

And to answer your question about 9mm+p, the kind gentleman was just relating that 357 out of a snub is roughly the same as 9mm+p out of an semi auto, after the loss of FPS due to the shorter barrel. He also asked about that.
As far as I can see the only rude one is yourself.

To the OP, you made a great choice. I have the exact same revolver and love it. My father carried it for many years as a state policeman.

Brian Williams
August 29, 2011, 11:22 AM
What is the stopping power of a 4" barreled 357 revolver?
Any thing from nil to knock 'em dead. You can shoot Speer plastic bullets in plastic cases powered by a large pistol primer all the way up to 200 grain LWC that looks like a AAA battery.
It is not the gun that provides the stopping power, it is the load that is put in the gun. The gun effects how that load performs but not it's stopping power.

L-Frame
August 29, 2011, 08:47 PM
Maybe someone already posted this and I missed it but with .357 mag. I always feel it needs saying. I'm a huge S&W 686 fan (most .357 revolvers actually) but everyone always gets so enamored by getting the MOST stopping power you can get. And yes, within reason, the 125 gr. .357 is that round. But, you have to make sure that you can shoot that round and deal with the recoil and blast. Many cannot shoot it without flinching and will not shoot it enough to get competent with it.

Also, while I own numerous .357's, I used Buffalo Bore's 158 gr. SWCHP +P as a home defense load because I can't imagine touching off a Federal 125 .357 indoors (and God forbid a hallway) without ear protection. People say that under stress you may not even hear the report, but it's also very possible you'd never hear anything ever again after that.

If I know I'm going to be outdoors (camping, hiking, etc.) I'll carry it hot, but if not, I think 1100 fps+ with a 158 gr. soft lead bullet makes me feel in no way underpowered.

So, after all that, yes, you got as fine a man-stopper as you can buy. Now just make sure that you actually want to use it because there are many very solid alternatives out there if you realize that it is a little much for you.

pefz
August 29, 2011, 10:39 PM
Jake,

I have the 686+ 4 inch for home defense with the stock rubber Hogue grips. After much research, I decided to use .38 special +P for defensive loads (Remington Golden Sabers). I've shot about 1000+ rounds of both .38 and .357 loads through the gun, of various types. While the .357 definitely has more punch from the 4 inch barrel, I'm more than confident the .38's will do the job if ever needed. I also have the .38 load for recoil management in case my wife needs to use the gun.

When you get the gun, go to a range and try various loads in both .357 and .38, and shoot what you feel you can shoot best with.

As for the stopping power debate, just asking the question is enough to start a thread that eventually devolves into secular warfare. Pick a load that you are comfortable, practice both point shooting and target shooting, and don't look back.

You'll enjoy that gun, by the way.

Jake Benson
August 30, 2011, 01:28 AM
I appreciate everyone's comments, and no one has offended me in any way. I did like the wood grips that were shown, and while it went a little astray from the original topic, I still found it of value.

If you enjoyed reading about "S&W 686 4 in. Barrel Stopping Power" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!