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Sw 66 or SW 686 advice?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by iyn, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. iyn

    iyn Well-Known Member

    I've decided to buy a 38/.357 revolver. a gun both my wife and I can shoot. I was going to get a 3" barreled sw686, but the store has a used sw66 in 2-1/2' barrel. this is for home defense and I do not "plan" on shooting .357, mainly 38's or 38+p's. I'm not sure which to get and can only buy one not both. I've read some people said "pre lock" is better or some prefer the internal firing pin rather than the firing pin on the hammer. Any advice?
  2. Creator

    Creator New Member


    This is my first time on this forum. Could not pass up your question. I have a S&W 642-2 Air weight, 5 shot designed for continious +P use. It has the Crimson trace lazer grip. I choose this because I carry 24/7, it's really light but kicks! I also have the new Ruger SP101 in 3". I would go with the S&W 686 because you could later get the "Mag-na-port" quad port. 3" barrel required. I prefer the Ruger but both are fine. I own the S&W 629 Classic 5" in 44 mag. Love it. But with your choices, go 686!
  3. Olympus

    Olympus Well-Known Member

    Both are great guns. But for your intended use, I'd say the 66 is better. If you plan on doing a lot of range shooting or a lot of .357 shooting, then I'd say go with the 686. But the Model 66 is considered by many to be the best all around revolver made my Smith.

    Here's a little taste of 1975 no-dash 66 of mine that I like to show off when I get the chance:




    Pre-lock Smith revolvers, in my opinion are much better guns. I can only speak for myself, but as long as Smith is putting the locks on their new guns, I'll never buy one. And my opinion is that the newer revolvers don't have the quality, craftsmanship, or pride in work as the older revolvers. And the same people like me who prefer older revolvers also typically tend to prefer the hammer-mounted firing pin instead of the transfer bar. I have a couple Colt revolvers with the transfer bar, so it's not a deal breaker for me personally. But the IL sure is. Good luck with your search and let us know what you decide.
  4. iyn

    iyn Well-Known Member

    thanks olympus, your photos and comments makes the sw 66 look good! I'm torn between the 2 guns because the 3" barrel on the 686 will be a little better at the range because the targets are set at 25 yrds. I had a 2" sw 15 years ago but the hammer mounted firing pin that broke twice. during dry firing with snap caps.
  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    I'm a big fan of the K frame Magnum revolvers. They have very nice triggers and as you said, no locks. I would buy the M66 especially if you are going to fire mostly .38 Special ammo.
  6. nathan

    nathan Well-Known Member

    THe Model 66 is a dandy. Perfect for the .38 plus P load in the night stand.
  7. Messenger Guard

    Messenger Guard Well-Known Member

    I would say go for which ever is cheaper and in better condition. The only advantage the 686 has is the ability to digest 357s all day without developing end shake. Perhaps the added heft of the "L" frame 686 would also tame perceived recoil. Since limited shooting and home defense are your parameters, either will do a great job. That said....the 686 is my favorite revolver bar none.
  8. iyn

    iyn Well-Known Member

    Messenger Guard, is the new 686 just a "good as the "pre-lock" ones? Sorry for all the questions. I'm the "1911 guy" getying into revolvers.
  9. Messenger Guard

    Messenger Guard Well-Known Member

    In some ways the lock version is better (got my flame suit on:D). The 686-1 and -2 are still under recall. If you find a 686-1 or 2 without an "M" stamped under the model number behind the yoke, that weapon is under recall. There were cases of these early guns locking up under heavy mag loadings. S&W will repair at no charge to you last time I checked even though these guns are 30 years or so old. For those that remember the Bangor/Punta, Lear Siegler era at S&W, not all was hunky dory. While many of those weapons were nice, there were dogs as well. While I don't like the lock, computer assisted drafting machines have made today's Smiths as accurate as hand fitted guns of yesteryear. There is a cold mechanical harshness with today's MIM, 3 screw, Hillary hole, non firing pin on the hammer guns but hey, I carry the epitome of modern industrial ugly to work everyday (Glock). While not having the hand fitted master craftsmanship beauty of a Registered Magnum (Angels serenading), they do go bang every time and are accurate. Given my druthers, I would want a 686-4 which has all the loved features. That said, If I found a deal on a new 686, I would not feel the weapon would let me down.
  10. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    I have a 66 and a 686. At least one other recommended the 2 1/2" 66, but for a HD you and your wife use, I'd recommend the heavier 686. I'd also recommend a 4" rather than a 3" barrel, as you'll get a bit more velocity from the longer barrel, and the increased sight radius will make it easier to shoot accurately.

    "Good" and "better" are subjective. The older ones have a nicer fit and finish, but the newer ones shoot every bit as good - and in my experience maybe even better. For your intended use, I wouldn't sweat any new/old, lock, MIM and firing pin issues, so long as the gun's in excellent condition.
  11. richkratz

    richkratz Well-Known Member

    Disregard the unknowledged above opinions regarding the 66's abilities to shoot magnums...first off. The issue SOME k-frames had was after many, many thousands of rounds of shooting 125gr full house magnum loads, the forcing cones were developing cracks, and some flame-cutting on top strap was observed. 99.99% of owners would NEVER see this occur, but was brought to the attention of the gun world and has been blown out of proportion ever since.
    That said, I would not hesitate to recommend one for your intended purposes. I am not a fan of the "hillary hole", nor am I of the frame-mounted firing pins, as I previously owned a 686-5 that gave light primer strikes, even after sending back to S&W. IMO, get the 66.
  12. oldfool

    oldfool Well-Known Member

    agree with forcing cone issues with the 66 being "overblown", but I still prefer to think of the 66 as the perfect 38+P gun myself.. although the Ruger 3" SP101 comes close

    nice as the 686 is, I would choose the 66
    (and did, twice in fact)
  13. Olympus

    Olympus Well-Known Member

    richkratz and oldfool are correct. Problems with the 66 and .357 are almost always overstated. The primary cause of forcing cone cracking is shooting a significant amount of light weight .357 bullets. Stick with the heavier .357 bullets and the 66 will be just fine. And you have to put it in perspective. Are you shooting thousands of .357 rounds a year? If so, get the 686. But the 66 will be just fine if you want to run 50 or 100 rounds of .357 through the gun every so often.

    And personally, I can't see any difference in accuracy at 25 yards between a 2.5" barrel and a 3" barrel. I've shot both.
  14. evan price

    evan price Well-Known Member

    I own a 66-no dash 2.5" myself, it is darn near a perfect carry and bedside gun. You won't see enough difference to notice between a 3" and a 2.5" barrel. The only real benefit to the 3" (which is why they are sought after) is that the 3" is the shortest barrel that still has a full-length ejector rod. "K"-frame S&ws, as long as you don't use the hyper velocity 110 and 125 grain loads, will shoot for longer than you'd care to spend shooting it.

    For me, if the choice were a 686 vs a 66, I'd take the 66 all day long and twice on sunday. The 686 "L"-frame is heavier (may be better for recoil sensitive people, but it's heavier all the time!) but the 66 is about the perfect size IMHO. Plus if it's a 66-1 or earlier it is pinned & recessed- and .357 K-frames they aren't making them anymore. The "L"-frame 686 is still coming out of the factory.

    Ultimately, the choice is which ever one feels best in y'alls hands.
  15. Thaddeus Jones

    Thaddeus Jones Well-Known Member

    Owning both 2.5, 3" and 4" 66's and a 3" and 4" 686, all pre lock of course, I vote for the 66.

    The K-frame points more naturally and is faster handling, for me. :)
  16. springfield30-06

    springfield30-06 Well-Known Member

    Personally, I'd like to have whatever one does not have an internal lock. If both have or both do not have the lock I'd pick the Model 66.
  17. joe_security

    joe_security Well-Known Member

    Get the (K-Frame) 66. To me, the 686 is muzzle heavy like a Python or GP100. The 66 will point straight out where as the 686 will feel like it drops down and you have to lift it up. JMHO and of course YMMV. It admit the 686 is heavy duty and a great revolver, just too muzzle heavy for me.
  18. squarles67

    squarles67 Well-Known Member

    I'm with the "Get the 66" crowd
  19. RugRev

    RugRev Well-Known Member

    For home defense I would get the 686+ (7 shot). These started coming out in the -4 versions with hammer mounted firing pin in the old style. I have a 686-5 Mtn. Gun without lock which is 7 shot. I found the balance and weigh about the same as a 4" 66 I had so decided to go with the 7 shot. The 7 shot is lighter by a couple of ounces than the 6 shot. Actually, a 686-4+ Mtn. Gun would be ideal but they don't exist. 66's exist in 3" version albeit as do the older 686's without lock. As you won't be firing light weight bullets in .357 the 66 would work well, too.
  20. Action_Can_Do

    Action_Can_Do Well-Known Member

    I'm going to have to go against the crowd with this one. The only reason to own a model 66 these days is for novelty. Despite some people claiming that 66s handle the 357 magnum just fine, every used sample I've seen at my preferred gun store has been nearly shot to death. Those guns are beaten. Furthermore, I hear that S&W is starting to run low on parts for the older 66s and has no interest in making or buying more. The 686 is a current production gun. Parts for it are available. Service is available. Think of it like this. What would make a more practical car? A 1969 Ford Mustang or a 2010 Ford Focus? Cooler doesn't mean better.

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