The Fairest of Them All: Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center 686 Plus – SHOT Show 2018

The Smith & Wesson Performance Center 686 Plus.

The Smith & Wesson Performance Center never fails to deliver, and this year they have gone back to the competition roots with a modified 686 and 686 Plus.

Both are full-size stainless steel revolvers with enlarged sights and controls for flat-out fast shooting.  Out of the two, the one that really caught my eye was the 686 Plus because, well, it has every feature a growing boy needs.  And, not only does the Plus have a longer barrel than the Performance Center 686, it has a seven-round cylinder instead of a six.

I think I’m in love.


  • Model: Performance Center Model 686 Plus
  • Caliber: .357 Magnum, .38 S&W Special +P
  • Capacity: 7
  • Barrel Length: 5″ / 12.7 cm
  • Overall Length: 10.6″
  • Front Sight: Interchangeable
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable
  • Action: Single/Double Action
  • Grip: Synthetic
  • Weight: 38.4 oz / 1,088.6g


The most striking feature visually is the speed release thumbpiece.  It’s a massive gas pedal on the left side that opens the cylinder. It looks unorthodox, but it is a control you aren’t going to misplace in the heat of the moment. It feels a bit strange opening the cylinder with such a massive lever, but it is certainly quick. Not only do you have more surface area to press, but it feels lighter and shorter as a movement.

The 5-inch barrel features a vented rib on top, complete with a massive orange front sight. I have never seen a front sight like it, it looks like a block of fiber optic. One thing is for sure, you are going to see the thing.

The action has been tuned, another bonus feature from the Performance Center. The cylinder is of course cut for moon clips, giving you a capacity of 7 rounds of .357 Magnum or .38 Special.  I’m really looking forward to testing this one in the future.

The oversized cylinder release.

Five-inch vented, ribbed barrel.


MSRP is $966.  But I’m seeing them listed on GunsAmerica right now for under $900.  For more information check out the Smith&

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Ej harbet September 7, 2020, 7:17 pm

    mim and the Hillary hole killed s&w revolvers. They used to be the pinnacle of fine revolvers in my opinion. If I could id aquire a round butt 3inch m64,a m58 .41mag,and a m696 3inch in 44spl. And be content

  • BigC January 23, 2020, 7:18 am

    Why does S&W insist on putting that GD lock on their revolvers, they don’t put them on their semi-auto pistols?? What’s their reasoning?? I for one will never buy another one of their products with the Hellary Hole!!

  • Barnhill Charles April 22, 2019, 4:46 pm

    I purchased a S&W 357 mag. 8 shot and the grips are FAR worse than the quality I expected from Smith.
    The edges have sharp edges and when trying to remove the screw from the grips to put another grip on, the screw just turns and turns WILL NOT COME OUT just like it is stripped. Have sent requests several time to try and resolve the issue. Did Smith reply No No!!!!
    Very disappointed in Smith & Wesson

  • Joe February 6, 2019, 6:48 am

    Looks like the old llama revolvers for the 1960’s.POS!

  • Thomas Hensarling December 4, 2018, 10:00 pm

    Bought this revolver and love it (after replacing speed release with old style release). Its the smoothest most accurate S & W I’ve ever owned. I also hi-polished complete gun to a high shine which looks great.

  • markle laws February 10, 2018, 11:56 am

    If this is what S&W wants to sell good luck. Meanwhile I will buy from someone else who isn’t trying to fix what isn’t broken..

  • Illinois Lefty February 7, 2018, 1:43 am

    Obviously not for a Lefty, that cylinder lock is right where the web of your hand is

  • mrtoad February 7, 2018, 12:36 am

    Stupid as Stupid does…double-action handguns are like a box of chocolates…with an extra round hidden inside so you have to take a bite out of every D***ED piece of chocolate to find the D***ED extra round…life is too short to be wasting it having to play with another “gadget” that you don’t need!!!!…now lets start talking about those shrimp!!!

  • mrtoad February 7, 2018, 12:18 am

    Guess it’s time to go out and buy that Sig Sauer 229…sure as hell am not going to purchase one of these…THINGS!!!

  • DMD February 6, 2018, 7:49 pm

    These horrid “new” Smiths get uglier and less desirable by the year–our $1,000 is much better spent by buying classic pre-lock Smiths !!! DMD

  • Lopaka Kanaka February 6, 2018, 7:03 pm

    Tarus makes a 7 shot stainless steel 666 model 357 in 6 inch barrel fot $525. They also make a 8 shot stainless steel 357 in
    6 inch barrel model 608 for $675. I enjoy my 357 shooting at the range also have a Rossi in blue 4 inch 6 shot payed $325.
    I had a S&W model 19 357 blue 6 inch barrel payed $150 back in the 70’s and sold it,enjoyed shooting at the range every week.

  • August Bender February 6, 2018, 5:23 pm

    I have a S&W M686+ with the 6″ barrel that I bought about 15 years ago. It’s a great revolver with a terrific single-action trigger pull. It’s very accurate with .357 Mag cartridges and I use it for Bowling Pin competition. I’ve handled a S&W revolver with the oversize cylinder release at a gun show and I’m not convinced that it’s an improvement – it seems too big to me. I’ve seen a video of Jerry Miculek shooting a S&W revolver with a standard cylinder release and he can fire six shots at steel plates, reload and fire 6 more shots all in less than 3 seconds. He doesn’t seem to be hampered by the cylinder release and I don’t think the oversize one would speed up the reload.

  • Don February 6, 2018, 5:08 pm

    As long as you keep putting “them locks your guns”, I’m buying elsewhere. You caved to the liberals.

  • KMacK February 6, 2018, 5:07 pm

    Darn. Now I’m ticked at S&W. I want this revolver and I can’t afford it. Darn!

  • Boss February 6, 2018, 3:42 pm

    Hillary hole. I don/t understand why they insist on assuring AOBC stock price stay around $10 a share.

  • bbbs53 February 6, 2018, 12:44 pm

    Back when this and the 586 came out, they had a bad habit of primers flowing into the firing pin hole and locking them up tight. The instructor at our school figured out the fix, being as how he was a warranty station and did many hundreds of them. Putting a safety on a revolver is like placing tits on a bore, really ugly and ignorant. Their lawyers must have designed it, it is now one ugly handgun. A thousand bucks? Good luck with this white elephant and did the cylinder really need to be bigger? I think not and would bet most folks don’t either.

    • Alfred Pimentel February 6, 2018, 2:58 pm

      I’m shopping for another .357 handgun.
      I’ve always been a smith and Wesson fan, but that is one ugly gun I won’t even pay attention to.

      • mrtoad February 7, 2018, 12:30 am

        WHAT A BEAUTIFUL HAND GUN!!!!…can one be ordered with a swiss army knife attachment along with a stainless multi-tool and definitely have a bottle opener and maybe a signal flare attachment and a signal whistle along with a detachable stock and a remote 1000 round magazine that squirts the rounds in automatically…don’t want that trigger finger getting tired…speaking of tired, how about a nice alarm clock and toaster oven??? Maybe think about adding a battery-powered cylinder opener/ejection device too???…and maybe a solar-powered FM radio and a “secret” compartment to store fishing gear?…and would it be possible to special order it with a Steiner 5x -12x56mm Scope???…with a laser??? DAMN!!! I’m really starting to love “progress”!!!!!!
        ps. Please don’t forget about the “special order” blow up doll to use as a target…and maybe something else if there’s nothing around to shoot???

        • mrtoad February 7, 2018, 12:47 am

          pps MAKE SURE YOU DON’T FORGET ABOUT A COMPASS…MAYBE AS PART OF THE HAMMER?…or you could always just dangle it off the trigger housing???

    • PdaleG June 1, 2020, 4:01 am

      With you completely it is one ugly handgun.

  • Brad February 6, 2018, 11:07 am

    S&W performance loses credbility every time they come out with guns like these! Nothing new or innovative, a step backwards just to day its a new gun. Not buying it, a 7 shot? Really?

  • nathan fryer February 6, 2018, 10:44 am

    Really S&W?…Let’s keep it simple stupids…and a thousand dollars?
    I’d fire the engineering crew that came up with this one

  • Michael indiana February 6, 2018, 10:35 am

    I agree with shrugger when I buy a smith/Wesson the first thing I do is look for the lock if it has 1 I walk .

  • Lee February 6, 2018, 9:53 am

    There is no point to a 7-shot… USPSA run 8-shot revolvers now, and IDPA still only allows 6-shot… There is no division in ICORE this would work in either… So its not a competition gun, and considering very few folks buy revolvers as carry guns, that knocks out about 97% of the handgun buying market. Which leaves it in the nostalgia and niche buying markets… Thats a hard market to try to squeeze money out of…

  • Rizzo February 6, 2018, 8:47 am

    Answer in search of a question…

  • The Panther February 6, 2018, 7:55 am

    I never purchase a Handgun because it won a “beauty” contest.
    They said the same thing about the first Tank, but the Army was glad they had them. They perform!

    • mrtoad February 7, 2018, 12:12 am

      So, what you’re saying is that because the Army made ugly tanks available that the same should be said of this abortion? This is the UGLIEST handgun I’ve seen in a long time! And whose idea was it to add an extra round to the cylinder??? That idiot should be immediately terminated or at least demoted to the head toilet cleaner. S&W isn’t just spinning their wheels, they’re in full reverse…and going over a cliff. Knock this kind of crap off now! If you have a design that is proven the best and everybody likes it why the F**K do you have to put one of these things out there to ruin your image and scare away customers???

      • Tony February 12, 2019, 2:35 pm

        My Daddy used to tell me, “son, don’t you buy an ugly gun. Guns cost too much to buy something ugly.” Of course he was talking about spending $105.00 for a new Remington 870 Wingmaster.

        One of the reasons I never went out of my way to buy a Glock. They are serviceable, but are one of the ugliest guns in the world. They are cheap but do not compare to a higher end pistol. You can make a Glock perform like a higher end pistol but then you have as much money in it as you would with a high end pistol and the Glock is still ugly!

  • vic vapor February 6, 2018, 7:45 am

    Knowing there is an 8 shot model,
    I could never bring myself to settle for 7 😕

    • mrtoad February 7, 2018, 12:17 am

      If we want more rounds we’ll buy a semi-auto with a high – capacity magazine!

  • shrugger February 6, 2018, 7:42 am

    I won’t buy another S&W until they remove that Goddamn lock.

  • zorro February 6, 2018, 7:05 am

    More JUNK – yawn tired old same, same, same crap

  • Chet Hribal February 6, 2018, 6:09 am

    The most striking feature is still the key lock safety system. I wonder if the CEO of S&W has one on the side of his head?

  • Blue Dog February 5, 2018, 7:03 pm

    Didn’t these pop up last year? I can see how practical that cylinder release lever would be but it was ugly then and it is ugly now. And it just highlights that abhorrent on-board lawyer lock. The Performance Center S&Ws look less graceful than their cheaper counterparts, too.

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