The S&W 686 PLUS

The Smith and Wesson Performance center 686 PLUS

Smith & Wesson is famous for its revolver lines, and this year they’ve decided to make a big return into the wheel gun category.  The S&W 686 PLUS comes out of Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center, their custom firearm shop, and is an impressive new version of a venerable legend from the past.

S&W 686 PLUS

S&W 686 PLUS

Meeting the 686 PLUS

Meeting the 686 PLUS

The S&W 686 PLUS is based on the medium L-frame, and is chambered for the proven .357 Magnum.  It is also capable of shooting .38 caliber and .38 Special +P rounds.  The 686 PLUS comes with the 7-shot cylinder, providing a little extra firepower to an already powerful revolver.  Though previous versions of the 686 had a variety of barrel choices, the 686 PLUS is currently limited to the 2.5” barrel.

The 2.5" barrel on the PC S&W 686 PLUS

The 2.5″ barrel on the PC S&W 686 PLUS

S&W 686 PLUS specifications:

  • Caliber – .357 Magnum, and .38 Special +P
  • Action – Single and double
  • Capacity – 7 rounds
  • Overall Length – 7.5”
  • Barrel Length – 2.5”
  • Weight – 34.6 oz. unloaded
  • Front sight – Red ramp
  • Rear sight – Adjustable
  • Grip – custom cut wood with finger grooves
  • MSRP – TBA
The 7-round cylinder gives the 686 PLUS some extra punch.

The 7-round cylinder gives the 686 PLUS some extra punch.

The custom wood grip on the 686 PLUS has pre-cut finger grooves, and the engraving provides a sure grip while increasing the appealing presentation.

The custom wood grip on the 686 PLUS has pre-cut finger grooves, and the engraving provides a sure grip while increasing the appealing presentation.

One of the features that immediately captures the shooter’s attention is the non-fluted cylinder.  The 686 PLUS has a glass bead finish on a stainless steel frame and cylinder.   The appearance is very complementing of the the chromed trigger and hammer.  Several parts are Performance Center exclusives including:

  • Non-fluted cylinder
  • Chrome flashed custom tear drop hammer
  • PC chromed trigger with stop
  • PC precision crowned barrel
  • PC tuned action
  • Chamfered charge holes
  • Cylinder cut for moon clips.
Range time for the S&W 686 PLUS

Range time for the S&W 686 PLUS

I was able to shoot the S&W 686 PLUS at SHOT Show Media Day.  Admittedly, I’m not nearly as familiar with revolvers as I am with semi-auto handguns, however I have shot revolvers from S&W, Ruger, Colt, and Taurus.  The 686 PLUS rates among the best that I’ve shot to date.

Me shooting the 686 PLUS in double action.

Me shooting the 686 PLUS in double action.

The PC tuned action made even the double action trigger pull as smooth as glass.  There was no hint of creep or struggle to overcome the magical point in the trigger pull that has to be crested in order to obtain the break.  Instead, the 686 PLUS trigger rolled through the double action motion in a steady and very predictable motion and break.

Me shooting the S&W 686 PLUS in single action.

Me shooting the S&W 686 PLUS in single action.

When cocking the hammer for single action, the trigger pull is almost imperceivable.  As soon as I tightened my trigger finger on the trigger during single action, the 686 PLUS roared to life.  Not that the lightweight pull is a bad thing, but one for the shooter to be aware of non-the-less.

Recoil on the S&W 686 PLUS was remarkably controllable considering the 2.5” barrel, although the ammunition at Media Day was just .357 target rounds.  Accuracy was very good in my opinion.  Standing, unsupported at 15 yards all of my shots were within a 2-3” circle.  Again, I’m not as much a revolver shooter, so experienced wheel gun shooters will likely fair much better.

Gripping the 686 PLUS was a real pleasure.

Gripping the 686 PLUS was a real pleasure.

The S&W 686 PLUS will likely be very popular for wheel-gun enthusiasts.  The slimmer grip makes this a revolver that many shooters could shoot comfortably.  Unfortunately I could not get a S&W representative to provide an MSRP, as they told me that the information was going to be released on their website.  So far it has not, but considering other revolvers coming out of the Performance Center I would guess around $1200.


Aaron is a life-long firearm enthusiast and hunter. He has been a police officer for nearly 19 years, and currently is a Sergeant in Special Operations. He has served on the department’s SWAT Team for 14 years, with 8 years as the Sniper Team Leader. When not fussing over fractions of inches, and gut-less wonders, he can usually be found sipping from a ridiculously large coffee mug. Aaron is also the editor and main writer at


  • Colby

    I will be saving my money until S&W make a big return into no-lock wheel gun category. Then myself and many other “enthusiasts” will really make their sales take off.

    • Aaron E

      Understood and agreed Colby.

    • Bill Lester

      Yep, they just don’t understand (or care) that S&W revolver enthusiasts are almost 100% against the infernal lock. It really angers us that S&W will make their wheelguns sans lock for .gov contracts but not for the general public. Compounding that issue is the fact they will sell an M&P autoloader without the ILS but not a revolver. Do they believe one demographic is less responsible in gun storage than the other?

      • Bill Lester

        Addendum: I just checked the S&W website and there are four variations of the J-frame cataloged without the ILS. It would be very interesting to see sales figures for those compared to the lock versions.

        • CorruptionInColumbia

          I bought a 442 Airweight last year without the Hillary hole. Had to wait for about 5 months for it to arrive after ordering but it was worth the wait. I bought it from a LE distributor but am unsure if they are available to citizens through dealers at this time. I hope they are.

      • maodeedee

        “S&W revolver enthusiasts are almost 100% against the infernal lock.”
        The key word here is enthusiast. People who don’t know any better or who don’t care have no brand loyalty. They are those to whom a gun is just another gun. Personally If I were going to spend !200 dollar=s on something I’d rather get a 10mm Glock 20 and a Mech-tech carbine upper receiver than one of these turkeys.

        So why target that casual buyer demographic rather than your real gun enthusiasts? Smith and Wesson is looking pretty good now because of the Barack Obungler-generated gun buying panic, but now sales are going to take a downturn so S&W needs to wise up pretty soon.

  • El Duderino

    Hmm, love one of those cylinders for my older 686+. Have wanted to cut it for moon clips but have found the really quality places are backlogged pretty hard.

  • Mr. Fahrenheit

    I just got S&W’s e-mails today.

    I love wheel guns. Must get. Nice guess on the MSRP. You’re about $100 off on the heavy side.

    • Aaron E

      Hey I try Mr. Fahrenheit – for a mostly non-wheel gun shooter I was pretty close.

  • Zapp Brannigan

    If Smith and Wesson wants to know what they should be making revolver-wise, they only need to go to the various firearm auction sites and see which of their older products are going for a premium.

  • Shane

    I would get one if it didn’t have the internal lock. Get rid of that crap S&W!

  • gunslinger

    looks big.
    if you miss with the extra shot, you can bash your attackers skull in?

    • FourString

      Apparently not as much as the classic-er .357 Magnum S&W’s. Now those brutes were 42 ounces and heavier! even for a 2 incher!

      This one is 34.6 ounces, which is a whole lot lighter. How they accomplished that, I do not know. Unless this is a scandium alloy frame, which I’m not sure of.

  • Nitro Owners

    That might be the ugliest S&W revolver I’ve seen.
    I’d take a classic Model 10 any day over that monstrosity.

    • CorruptionInColumbia

      I fully and totally concur, Nitro Owners!

  • tinacn

    Ah yes, the internal lock: A tort lawyer answer to a tort lawyer created problem. I wonder if anyone has died as a result of “thinking” their lock was off when it wasn’t, and then needing their revolver in the gravest extreme. It is maddening that S&W will provide them to military/LEU without a lock, but not to the civilian market. I guess the children of soldiers and cops are somehow endowed with special wisdom that would keep them from being fatally dangerous with “Daddy’s gun”, or maybe it is the soldiers and cops themselves that are “safer than we are”.
    Of course, this is the same S&W that announced they were going to discontinue the J-frame revolver line due to low sales back in the late 1970’s under pressure from the Carter Administration. I worked in a gun shop then and we couldn’t keep one in the case for more than one or two days (especially the Model 60 Chief’s Special), even used ones, and they sold for $300+ back then. We all knew the “low sales” claim was baloney, it was strictly political pressure. Reagan won in ’80, and the plan never happened. Hey S&W, see what a used Mod. 60 with a 3″ bbl and round butt is selling for today on the websites…if you can even FIND one for sale.

    • maodeedee

      Agree 100%. Beautiful gun except for the following deal-breakers

      !. Jive-A$$ safety Lock — ‘Nuff said.

      2. Re-styled Barrel, The classic tapered barrel with the shrouded ejector rod like on the N-frame would look better, reduce weight, and re-holster easier. Even the full underlug barrel like on the same gun that was made from the early 80’s to mid-90’s would be preferable especially if you wanted a gun with a little more forward weight. No need to re-invent the wheel all over again or “improve” on styling that was near perfect or perfect in the case of the tapered barreled N-frames.

      3 The Price. Why can’t this gun be sold to the masses as a standard production item? And the end user could put a wolff spring kit in the older guns if they wanted a “custom tuned action”.

      Pre-1996 686 plus guns can be had in good condition for around $800 dollars. I would much rather spend 8-900 on a gun like that and spend the rest on ammo than to pay 1200 dollars for one of these bogus “Special Edition”.guns. and ditto for their new “Classic series that are NOT exact re-issues of the originals.

  • MrApple

    That is one pretty firearm.

    • Guest

      why would anyone vote this down? maybe they hate gorgeous revolvers? :(((

      • MrApple

        It is thick and chunky, kind of like a Glock revolver, and kind of like ME.

  • CorruptionInColumbia

    Uhhh, thanks but no thanks. It has the Hillary hole, and that un-fluted cylinder is freakin’ hideous. If I won one or was given one, I would trade it or sell it.

    I would much rather see them bring back classics like the 685 (I believe) which was S&W’s answer to the Ruger GP-100 with fixed sights, or maybe the older K-frames such as the Models 64, 65, 67, etc, with the firing pin on the hammer and WITHOUT THE D–N HILLARY HOLE, fer crying out loud!!!!

  • Big John

    Gun sales going to take a down turn? Good if that is true then smart people had better buy them. Things are going to get worse in the US rather then better. Now if we can get Obama to stop buying up all the ammo maybe ammo purchases will take a down turn too. If it does I suggest you all buy as much as your budget will afford. You never know when ammo will go the other un-affordablity route again. Who would ever guess that 22 win mag would cost what it does per box now. Outrageous.

  • spencer60

    That is not the best looking gun S&W has ever made, that’s for sure.

  • Aaron E

    To be fair to Smith & Wesson, I coined the term “enthusiasts” because I knew the “686” brand was very popular in the day. S&W did not use that term.

    Not being the biggest wheel gun shooter, I totally missed the “Hillary Hole”, so I apologize for the furor it has generated. Having read the comments I completely agree that this “safety” feature is a complete joke. I’ve even heard that it has failed when shooting the more powerful cartridges, causing the revolver to lock up.

    In concept the 686 PLUS is a nice return to a classic success. In practice, it reeks of non-sensical political correctness.

    However, it was incredibly fun to shoot, with an amazingly light recoil!

  • LeeC

    Now, would like to see the 686 Plus Round Butt in 3″ with full length ejector rod. }:o)

    • 2ThinkN_Do2

      686 Deluxe Talo Edition – awesome!

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    PS – it is on their website and MSRP is $1089.00 . . . . it’s nice, but I’d rather have the PC627 with 8 shots and the 2.625″ barrel.