Best years for a 686 ?


October 29, 2011, 01:13 PM
I've been hankering for one of these for many years, but have yet to get one. I know a local smith/shop owner that has a BIG personal collection of Smith revolvers, and I have a something I think he's interested in, so I may suggest a trade (whether or not it's a wise trade on my part is another question, for another thread. :D )
Anyway, I recall reading that the better ones, no lock or MIM or whatever, were from before 1990-something, but I don't remember the specifics. Any schooling whatsover would be much appreciated.........

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P5 Guy
October 29, 2011, 01:24 PM
Don't know years for production, but any with a (dash)-4 or less are the most sought after by me. No key lock and no MIM parts. These will be the guns with the highest resale value, too. Prejudice against the lock and MIM (metal injection moulded) parts of the later revisions -5 and above. I know of no failures due to the lock or MIM parts, personally.

Kendal Black
October 29, 2011, 01:28 PM
There was a recall on the earliest ones, details here: & WESSON, MODEL 581, 586, 681, 686, or 581-1, 586-1, 681-1, 686-1 & 686CS-1, REVOLVERS

If the recall was complied with, the recall guns are just dandy.

P5 Guy
October 29, 2011, 01:33 PM
Those will be stamped with an "M" near the model number. For the factory modification.
Original no dash guns are premium priced.

October 29, 2011, 01:58 PM

October 29, 2011, 02:28 PM
I loved my no dash M686 and regret trading it and $200 for a Python. The Python is a great revolver but the 686 was more robust.

A bud of mine, who is the best target pistol shooter I know, claimed the M585 barrels were better than the 686 barrels. Since I cannot hold as hard as he it could be true. What is true the 586 he sold me, that had well over 40K rounds through it, is an exceptionally accurate revolver.

October 29, 2011, 05:02 PM
A service-sized .357mag's greatest asset is it's versatility, so "the best" is also the most versatile, IMO. When it comes to 686s, I want 6-shot (not 7) capacity, a front sight that can be changed if needed, and (again, personal preference) a frame-mounted firing pin. My preference therefore, is a 6-shot 4" 686-5. Next best would be for the -4 variant.

The -5 variants came out in 1997, and were the first with a frame-mounted firing pin, which I prefer over the hammer-mounted pin. The cylinder release latch design was also changed in 1997, and I much prefer it's shape to the old.

The -4 variants came out in 1993 or so, and from what I've seen, seem to be the first ones where the front sight is pinned in, making replacement or repair relatively do-able.

Deaf Smith
October 29, 2011, 09:44 PM
Got two 686's (one show here.) This one is a 686-3, but the one that sleeps in the safe is a CS-1 3 inch 686.


October 30, 2011, 12:28 AM
686-4 has a drilled and tapped frame for optics.

The use of MIM hammer and trigger began in 1997 with the 686-5.

Personally I think the best year is this year, as I am a fan of the current 686 SSR. It has the best balance of all of them in my hands.

October 30, 2011, 03:26 AM
Hi Radagast.

I'm on the cusp of trading-off my pristine 70's era 6" blued Security Six with original box and papers +$185 US, for a pristine 6" no-dash 686 with no box or papers. (I'm just not able to to get warmed-up to Ruger DA revolvers, but a big S&W revolver fan.) Sound like a good trade?


October 30, 2011, 11:33 AM
I think I would do that trade, I would try to trim some of that cash but in the end I would do that deal.

October 30, 2011, 11:45 AM
The current 686's have the best metallurgy and hardest steel of the series. There is a tiny keyhole for the security lock but I just leave it off. Excellent balance and very accurate guns. These are done on all new machinery at S&W and I have no idea why the nostalgia makes one think the older ones, especially used, are better.

October 30, 2011, 12:03 PM
Thanks for all the replies, guys, very helpful.
And for what it's worth,WRS, I would also probably trade the RugerSS for that no-dash 686 ( and I have two Rugers that I'm very fond of.)

October 30, 2011, 01:05 PM
I like the older series. I have a 686-2 and had a 686-3. I still prefer the older production years versus any made after 1995.

4v50 Gary
October 30, 2011, 05:10 PM
Were there any seven shot pre-safety pre-mim 686s?

October 30, 2011, 05:10 PM
i like the -4's......

Thaddeus Jones
October 30, 2011, 05:52 PM
1997 and prior 686's are widely considered to be the best. All the best engineering changes without the cost cutting MIM parts, or idiotic internal locks.

I have a 4" 686-4+ 7 shot and a 4" black 686-3 limited edition. Both are good looking tack drivers! :) TJ

CSA 357
October 30, 2011, 06:04 PM
i have a 21/2 no dash 686 got a 4inch no dash to go with it today

October 30, 2011, 07:46 PM
I also like the looks of the prelock Smiths. I have a 6" and two 4" model 686 no dash.

October 31, 2011, 04:45 AM
I'm in Australia, so my finger isn't really on the pulse of the American prices, other than what I read on THR.
Caveat out of the way, the prices of security six and speed six revolvers seems to be rising of late, so the cash difference may be a bit high. My guess is $150 should be about right.
That being said, as you aren't a Ruger fan and are a S&W fan you will probably get more use and thus real value out of the S&W.
One thing, as a no-dash the 686 is subject to a recall. If fired with magnum ammo it may suffer a primer flow back into the firing pin bushing, locking up the gun. If there is an M stamped near the model number under the cylinder yoke then it has been modified with a new firing pin and bushing. If not then a call to S&W will see them pay shipping both ways and replace the pin and bushing for free. You may be able to use this info to dicker the price down a bit.
Personally I would make the trade even if theprice is firm. The most accurate handguns I've ever shot have been versions of the 686. a five shot 1 inch group at 25 meters with a 686-4, and rapid fire double action knocking down 10 half sized chickens for 10 shots at 25 meters with a 686 AFS. Both were borrowed guns that I had never shot before.

4v50 Gary:
The 686 Plus was introduced in 1995 as a 686-4 variant. The MIM chnges started with the 686-5 in 1997. Simple test: If it has a hammer mounted firing pin then it is has a forged hammer and trigger. The lock was introduced in 2001 with the 686-6.

October 31, 2011, 04:47 AM
Just a thought, if he is a collector, see if he has a pristine 586. They aren't made any more and are a pretty gun as opposed to the 686s utilitarian look.

October 31, 2011, 07:32 PM
Thanks for chiming in again, Radagast,your input is always helpful. I like the 586's too, but I've had a sweet-spot for the stainless version for many years, plus, I already have a couple semi-older blued Smith's, and I actually like the utilitarian, reduced maintenance of stainless. But I've long learned to never say "never" :D.

November 1, 2011, 09:18 AM
New member with lots of questions and not many answers. Just wondering about MrBorlands comment on the S&W 686 being a "Six shot" rather than a "seven". I've always wanted a seven or eight shot 686, but perhaps there are some problems I'm unaware of. I would appreciate your thoughts.

November 1, 2011, 09:28 AM
[Those will be stamped with an "M" near the model number. For the factory modification.

Only if they were send back. I have two, iirc they were right around $350 new back then.

November 1, 2011, 09:41 AM
Just wondering about MrBorlands comment on the S&W 686 being a "Six shot" rather than a "seven". I've always wanted a seven or eight shot 686, but perhaps there are some problems I'm unaware of. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Welcome, Flintstone!

My preference for 6-shot capacity is largely based on versatility. A 6-shooter is a fine SD & range gun, but I love competing with a revolver, too, and one is generally limited to 6 rounds. In events where you're not, there are much better options than a 7-shot 686. To boot, compared to the 6-shot, speedloader options are rather limited.

Even as a SD & range gun, though, I personally prefer the 6-shot, since given the same cylinder OD, there'd be more metal between the chambers. Whether concerns about cylinder strength are justified or not, I like the safety margin. Again, though, personal preference, and I'll add that I'm not aware of any strength issues that've cropped up over the 686P.

Thaddeus Jones
November 1, 2011, 10:28 AM
4V50Gary - the 686-4+ was made for one year, 1997 IIRC. There were four barrel lengths done, 2.5", 3", 4" and 6". The 686-4+ was the last of the 686's with forged parts and hammer mounted firing pin.

The 686-5+ implemented the frame mounted firing pin and MIM parts. Hope this helps! :)

November 1, 2011, 12:27 PM
Thanks MrBorland for the quick reply & the info. Also, I appreciate the "Welcome". I have enjoyed the site for a couple years & figured I might as well join. It has been a blessing!

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