TFB Review: The Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus Deluxe

Matt E
by Matt E
TFB Review: The Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus Deluxe

When it comes to revolvers, Smith & Wesson is one of the names associated with quality revolvers but as semi-autos are taking over more and more of the market, I have a few of their various revolver models, but never dove into any of the 686 variants and decided to dive into a new model and give it a proper shakedown. Brownells had a 3″ 686 Plus model on sale and I decided to snag it for this review. Let’s take a closer look at the Smith & Wesson 686 Plus Deluxe.

Smith & Wesson @ TFB:


My Smith & Wesson 686+ has a 3″ barrel in all stainless and weighs in at a stout 36.6 oz. The L Frame revolver has some interesting features that drew my attention like the black wooden grips and an unfluted cylinder that holds a total of 7 shots. Just like any other 357 magnum, the 686 Plus is able to chamber both 357 Magnum as well as the more affordable 38 Special as well. The overall length of the 686 Plus is 8.25″ but it seems smaller once it’s in your hand.

My example has a 10-lb double action trigger with a 6.2-lb single action that has a clean break and a defined reset. When it comes to sights, this 686 Plus has an adjustable rear sight with a ramp orange front sight. The contrast front sight makes it easy to pick up and align with the rear sight making sight acquisition really simple. Other little things like the black wood grips allow for a contoured grip that feels comfortable in the hand with the spine of the revolver being part of the frame bringing the whole look together to create a really attractive-looking gun in my opinion. MSRP on the Smith & Wesson 686 Plus Deluxe is $1,019.99 and is available in stores and at retailers currently.

Spec List

MSRP$1,019.99ManufacturerSmith & Wesson
Manufacturer Part #150853Model686 Plus
TypeDouble ActionSizeMedium Frame
Caliber357 MagnumBarrel Length3″
GripsWoodCapacity7 Rounds
Description3-5-7 Magnum SeriesManufacturer Wt36.6oz
SightsAdjustable SightsSubcategoryRevolvers
MaterialStainless Steel

Range Time

So far throughout my testing, I have roughly 450 rounds through the 686 Plus with about 200 of those being Federal American Eagle .357 Magnum and .38 Special with a box of Cor Bon .357 Magnum to test out overall performance. The most important thing to remember when shooting a revolver after shooting a lot of semi-automatic pistols is just how different it is to shoot revolvers. It’s certainly a learning curve but still is easy to pick up with a bit of practice. One of my favorite things right off the bat would be the contrast sights with the adjustable rear. It’s very easy to pick up and shoot not only accurately but quickly as well with the high-contrast sights. The double-action trigger is definitely an adjustment at first since it’s a rather heavy but crisp trigger.

After roughly 50 rounds, the double-action trigger became predictable and much easier to understand when it came to shooting fast. Another huge plus is the fact this 686 Plus Deluxe model holds 7 rounds rather than most revolvers only holding 6 rounds. This makes the 686 Plus comparable with a 1911-style pistol in terms of capacity but it is less in weight and overall is a smaller package. This may not be the cutting-edge modern carry piece but it’s still extremely functional and capable of doing almost everything. semi auto can do with some practice.

Accuracy and Feel

For accuracy testing, I used the same American Eagle .357 Magnum rounds along with some of the Cor Bon rounds to see what the capability was. Although this isn’t a huge detail when it comes to a 3″ snub nose revolver it was still something I wanted to test out and see how it did. With the American Eagle rounds, I shot 4 different sets of groups each consisting of 3 shots. Between those 4 testing groups, I averaged right around 2.1-2.35″ at 25 yards with rested bench shooting. I did the same 3 shot groupings with the Cor Bon rounds. I ended up shooting 3 sets of groups with an average group size of 1.75″-2.05″.

From these results, the self-defense Cor Bon rounds were slightly more accurate at 25 yards than the standard American Eagle .357 Magnum range ammunition. In terms of how it feels, the wood grips do a nice job of giving you a proper grip with plenty of space for larger hands to get a solid grip on the gun. The slight curve is ergonomic and feels good in the hand. I didn’t have any problems with recoil feeling strong and even with the hot self-defense ammo, I only felt minimal recoil in the hand. With the standard .38 Special rounds, this 686 Plus has almost no recoil and is one of the most enjoyable guns to shoot at the range for fun.

Carry Options

When it comes to carrying the 686 Plus, it’s certainly possible and I think this would fit right at home in the woods with a leather holster or chest rig out west. Some of you may want a .44 Magnum which is understandable but this is a great woods gun if you’re going out to hunt or just hiking in general. The unfluted cylinder will make it a little tricky to get a Kydex holster for it without getting one custom-made.

It’s important to consider if you plan on carrying daily, a leather holster will be much easier to find than something made out of Kydex. I haven’t found a holster for the 686 Plus yet but plan on ordering a leather holster to carry in the woods and colder months out of the year. Carrying the Smith & Wesson 686 Plus Deluxe is certainly possible but finding a holster to fit the unfluted cylinder can be rather tricky so keep that in mind if you decide to purchase one to carry daily.

Overall Thoughts

Throughout my time, the Smith & Wesson 686 Plus Deluxe has really made me grow fond of this snubnose revolver. The extra weight from the stainless steel frame and barrel gives it a great balance in the hand that also helps mitigate the recoil from higher pressure .357 Magnum rounds. The wood grips and adjustable sights are a nice touch and overall I’m extremely happy with my purchase. If you’re on the fence about buying a snubnose revolver, I would recommend the 686 Plus line of revolvers for the extra capacity and overall weight distribution.

Check Prices on Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus Deluxe

What do you guys think about snubnose revolvers like this? Do you enjoy shooting them or prefer longer barrels? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you have questions about my 686 Plus or firearms in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there and we will see you in the next review.

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Matt E
Matt E

I'm an avid shooter and love educating whether it's at my job or in the shooting community. I'm an average joe that really loves talking with other people about firearms and other passions.I'm active on Instagram on @fridgeoperator.

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2 of 25 comments
  • ChiptheBarber ChiptheBarber on Apr 04, 2024

    Are you SURE about that single-action trigger pull, Boss? Most 686’s come new,, right out of the box with between 3 1/2 and 4 lbs and SUPER crisp. If you REALLY have over a 6# pull, send that puppy back to Smith—-something’s not right!

  • Comrade Misfit Comrade Misfit on Apr 04, 2024

    My only issue is that I went through two new Model 66s a few years back. The first one went back three times for warranty repair. Finally, S&W sent me a replacement and that gun had to immediately go in for warranty work. It took me a total of nine months to get a serviceable gun.

    I don't need a new revolver badly enough to go through that, again.