S&W 686

Gun Sleeper Picks: Smith & Wesson 686

  • Jack Collins

Sometimes, a gun comes out of nowhere to become your favorite firearm. Maybe you weren’t expecting much from it, or you didn’t truly appreciate some features when you first picked it up. On the SDI content marketing team, we call these “sleeper picks.”

One of my biggest gun sleeper picks is the Smith & Wesson 686 Plus. It’s indisputably an incredible firearm, but I didn’t truly appreciate it until after I’d shot the crap out of it. And today, it’s probably one of my favorite guns to shoot. Let’s take a look at what makes it so great.

SDI Gun Sleeper Pick: Smith & Wesson 686 Plus

The year was 2020, and I was looking at picking up my first wheel gun. I was drawn to revolvers for a few reasons, namely their reliability and power. I was looking for something that I could take backpacking for self-defense, and the Smith & Wesson 686 Plus seemed to fit the bill.

One of the things that made this gun in particular stand out was its capacity. When most people think of revolvers, they imagine a “six-shooter.” But the 686 Plus was a seven-shot revolver, which helped mitigate a revolver’s main disadvantage: capacity.

I also liked that the 686 was chambered in .357 Magnum, since it can impart a lot of force onto a target. For reference, a 158-grain .357 bullet has 816 ft-lb. of force at the muzzle, while a 147-grain 9mm bullet only reaches about 400 ft-lb.

More than .357 Magnum

For about a year, I spent my range days happily blasting Norma .357 Magnum FMJ from my 686 Plus. But then, something happened. Ammo prices began to rise. And .357 seemed to be shooting up even faster than most.

That’s when the 686 Plus really secured its place as a top sleeper pick. Because like all .357 revolvers, the 686 can shoot more than Magnum rounds.

Enter .38 Special. No, I’m not talking about the Southern Rock band from the ‘70s; I’m talking about the pistol cartridge.

The .38 Special cartridge is actually the .357 Magnum’s parent. With less powder per cartridge (and usually a smaller bullet), the .38 Special costs about 40 cents per round. That’s in stark contrast to the .357 Magnum, which costs 60 cents on a good day.

I’d always known that the 686 Plus could shoot both of these rounds. But I didn’t really have any motivation to try shooting .38 Special until after.357 Magnum got so expensive.

Now, .38 Special is the main cartridge I shoot from my 686 Plus. Today, it’s probably the gun that I shoot the most. And that versatility is exactly why it secured a spot on SDI’s list of gun sleeper picks.

Learn More About Gunsmithing at SDI

I love my 686 Plus, but it definitely takes some specialized knowledge to work on this gun. That’s where SDI can help you excel. To learn more about the programs SDI offers, click here.

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