Right side view of Smith & Wesson Model 686-6 with 6 inch barrel.
Source: Smith & Wesson - © copyright lies with original owner
The Smith & Wesson Model 686 is a double action revolver of US origin that was introduced in the early 1980's. It was developed to produce a stronger framed revolver than the variants of the ubiquitous Model 10, but retaining the smaller grip and size.
The Model 686 is a double action revolver that uses what Smith & Wesson calls an L-frame. The L-frame combines the heavy frame of the earlier N-frame revolvers with the smaller grip of the K-frame revolvers. Different model numbers indicate the use of a blue steel or stainless steel frame and the use of fixed or adjustable sights. It is available with a variety of barrel lengths ranging from 2.5 to 8.75 inches.
The Model 686 fires the .357 Magnum round from a 6 shot cylinder. As with most .357 Magnum revolvers it is also able to fire the smaller and less powerful .38 Special round. Some variants feature a 7 shot cylinder. Effective range is a few dozen meters.
The Model 686 and its variants were mainly aimed at the US civilian and law enforcement market. In the 1980's revolvers already received much competition from pistols and adoption of new service revolvers was lower than the decades before. The M686 was acquired for law enforcement and special forces uses by several others nations.
Left side view of Smith & Wesson Model 586-7 with 4 inch barrel.
Source: Dustin Suchter - © public domain
The Model 686 represents a wide range of revolvers. Each of the four model numbers is produced in roughly seven subtypes with minor differences and in various barrel lengths. The blue steel 500-series was commonly used as police revolver, while the stainless 600-models are in limited use by frogmen in various nations.
Model 581: Blued steel L-frame revolver with fixed sights. Produced between 1980 and 1988.
Model 586: Blued steel L-frame revolver with adjustable sights. Produced from 1980 to 1999.
Model 681: Stainless steel L-frame revolver with fixed sights.
Model 686: Stainless steel L-frame revolver with adjustable sights. Produced from 1981 to present day
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