Wheelgun Wednesday: The Smith & Wesson 686 Plus Magnum

    Welcome back to another edition of Wheelgun Wednesday! I love handguns, I didn’t grow up shooting them and the first time I ever got my hands on one I was already 12 years old and knee-deep into shooting rifles. The first handgun I had ever fired happened to be a Uberti 1873 Cattleman, a 12 shot .22 LR caliber revolver.


    Pictured: A revolver that young me wasn’t impressed with.

    12 year old me wasn’t very impressed, having grown up on a steady stream of high-speed low drag semi-automatic handguns seen in every action flick in the ’80s and ’90s. Eventually, I went on to start collecting mostly semi-auto pistols, which led to me competing in the SCSA. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I started falling in love with wheel guns, but when I fell, I fell hard. One of my first and most prominent purchases was the Smith & Wesson 686 Plus.

    686 with speedloader

    Safe queen or range king?

    Usually when I go to the range to train I bring along my Smith & Wesson 686 Plus. The 686 Plus is an extremely satisfying revolver to shoot. In addition, it also gives me a lot of double action practice. The nearly 12 lb double-action pull is quite brutal. However, it tends to improve my first shot performance out of my DA/SA Beretta M9A3 – which I use in Steel Challenge competitions.

    The first round of a DA/SA gun must be fired from the double action position and while I could spend all day using my de-cocker. I find that using the much heavier pull and increased recoil of the .357 Magnum 686 helps fight my tendency to anticipate the recoil. This feature alone makes the 686 a frequent companion at nearly every range trip. On top of that, the gun is a joy to shoot and I find that there is a very visceral and satisfying sensation when shooting such a beefy revolver.

    686 with patch

    686 Plus Ammunition flexibility

    In addition to that advantage, I also quite like the 686 plus from a reloader’s perspective. Being able to experiment with two different calibers (.357 Magnum and .38 Special) gives me endless options. The 686 is designed to be a “heavy use” revolver. Even the hottest .357 Magnum loads won’t outpace this heavy-duty revolver.

    686 speedloader 2

    This ammo variability also makes the 686 Plus a decent option for when I train new shooters. The .357 Magnum caliber can be used for anything from self-defense to hunting. The milder .38 special can be loaded down so soft that possibly rivals .22 LR in recoil impulse. No need to worry about your anemic ammo cycling the weapon – it’s a wheel gun baby!

    686 patch 2

    Smith and Wesson Model 686 Plus


    Smith & Wesson L-Frame revolvers are built to suit the demands of the most serious firearms enthusiast. Available in six and seven shot cylinders, the L-Frame has a strong, durable frame and barrel built for continuous Magnum® usage. As police officers and hunters will attest, this firearm is made to withstand heavy use.

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    • Reloader
    • SCSA Competitor
    • Certified Pilot
    • Currently able to pass himself off as the second cousin twice removed of Joe Flanigan.
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