Smith & Wesson Cranking Out Two Hot New Model 686 Revolvers

The Updated Performance Center 686 and 686 Plus .357 Magnum revolvers feature enlarged sights and controls. (Photo: S&W)

Smith & Wesson is rolling out two updated Performance Center versions of their champion Model 686 revolvers for competition shooters. The new 686 and 686 Plus are full-size revolvers with enlarged sights and controls for flat-out fast shooting.

The Performance Center 686 is a standard six-shot revolver with a 4-inch barrel, while the Plus model has a seven-round cylinder and slightly longer 5-inch barrel. The 686 Plus also has a cylinder cut for moon clips for the fastest possible reloads.

The 4-inch Performance Center model. (Photo: S&W)

While these are both obviously designed for shooting sports, they’re good multi-purpose guns as well, suitable for self-defense and handgun hunting. Chambered for .357 Magnum, they’re both extremely versatile and can shoot a huge range of loads without issue.

The guns sport a satin stainless steel finish and chromed hammers and triggers for improved lubricity and durability. They also have solid, unfluted cylinders.

The combination doesn’t look bad, either. Complete with their full black synthetic grips and rear sights the guns have a bold two-tone appearance.

The upgraded guns have oversized, extended cylinder release levers and custom teardrop hammers. The triggers also come with overtravel stops to ensure short trigger pulls and clean breaks.

The new models feature thinned and vented, ribbed barrels with fully adjustable rear sights and big bright orange front sights.The front sight is interchangeable with different types or colors of sights.

The barrels also have tapered full-length underlugs. This type of underlug is designed to help control recoil without adding a lot of weight at the muzzle. This improves the gun’s balance and makes it fast and easy to get on target.

See Also: Revolver Kings: S&W 686 Full Review

The 5-inch Performance Center Plus model. (Photo: S&W)

The 4-inch Performance Center 686 measures in at 9.5 inches long and weighs 38 ounces. The 686 Plus is an inch longer and half an ounce heavier.

At the heart of both guns is a tuned Performance Center trigger job. Every action is hand-fit for custom-level performance at production prices.

These Performance Center guns command a slight price premium — but not much. Both have a suggested price of $966, which is only a little more than $100 for all the upgrades. Street prices tend to be a little less than MSRP.

If you’ve been looking for a higher-end revolver that performs without breaking the bank maybe one of these is your next handgun.

Shop for Smith & Wesson revolvers today on!

About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

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  • Ameri-Gro, LLC October 31, 2020, 1:38 am

    Why do companies invariably reintroduce products that were a hit, along with a few new feature that are almost guaranteed to turn it from a winner into a loser?

    Memo to CEO, Smith & Wesson:

    For God’s sake, if it ain’t broke, DON’T FIX IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Michael J October 5, 2020, 1:56 pm

    The original S&W’s 686 was a winner out of the box, accurate and no nonsense. These newer designs should have been
    given fewer features, no or less vented slots and definitely no tapered under lug. Cosmetic change does not make a winner.

  • Nikki Magnusson October 5, 2020, 3:59 am

    I own a 686-4 plus 3″..
    the sights..underlug..mim parts..non fluted cylinder and Hillary hole makes this latest version inferior..

  • Robert June 1, 2020, 9:32 am

    Tapered barrel lug = butt ugly!

  • Anthony Mcpeeks August 18, 2019, 5:41 pm

    Need to offer 8 3/8 barrel.

  • Harvey March 29, 2019, 1:58 pm

    How about bringing back a 686 with a 8 3/8 barrel back . I Miss Mine !!!

  • Deerhttr March 22, 2019, 9:22 am

    Oh ya flute the cylinder and get rid of the lock OR make it optional.

  • Deerhttr March 22, 2019, 9:21 am

    The tapered lug under the barrel is UGLY.
    A gun without it I would consider buying.

  • Troop Emonds January 29, 2019, 10:45 am

    I’m a revolver guy. Like the new non fluted cylinder, don’t like tapered lug under the barrel, the new latch system, and safety. Those things keep my interest more toward single action frontier revolvers and maybe Ruger SP101s

  • Joseph Hauk January 23, 2019, 7:42 am

    No thank you..I’ll keep my rossi 357 snub n9se….

  • June 11, 2018, 1:29 am

    Valuable info. Lucky me I found your web site by accident, and I am shocked why this accident didn’t happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

  • ejharb December 14, 2017, 7:40 pm

    Sad what has happened to a maker of such wonderful revolvers.but i still have my 80s kframe and if fortune smiles a m58 41mag and a m696 44spl will join it soon.

  • Tag November 19, 2017, 5:23 pm

    I’ve never seen the new 686 up close but I could tell from the pictures I didn’t like the cylinder release one bit. If I were to buy a revolver it would be an older 686 like I have or a colt python.

  • Rip November 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

    Korth has a cylinder release something like this but on the opposite side which I like. Powder metal parts cheapin what could be a great gun along with the lock.If S&W is going to offer this gun as a performance piece they should at least use the best metal and skip the MIM. Outside of that I like the 4 inch

  • K. Lee November 18, 2017, 11:03 am

    I love revolvers and I own several Colt, Smith, Ruger and other name brands. This is by far the ugliest piece I’ve ever seen. The cylinder release has got to go, among other things.

  • Andrew Reagan November 17, 2017, 9:59 pm

    Really? Smith and Wesson that gun looks like crap. whats up with that funky cylinder release and that hokey looking vent rib. Trying to be an over priced python? I will keep my model 66, 13, 19 and 29 from years gone by. Those new guns look like they suck!

  • Ted November 17, 2017, 6:59 pm

    As an current owner of 10 S&W revolvers, i can tell you that that is one UGLY revolver ! I am losing faith in their products with the cheesy MIM parts and ugly styling. They had a great product line in years past, what is going on at S&W ?
    AND Yes, lose that locking mechanism, i dont know anyone that actually uses it. GO BACK TO YOUR ROOTS , or lose your following S&W !

  • Sam November 17, 2017, 6:31 pm

    More ‘fad’ revolvers from S&W. They’ve lost their way.
    Ten more years and they’ll be belly-up. And I hate to see that because I’ve always been a Smith & Wesson revolver fan.
    Get rid of the lock; no more ‘alloy’ junk; no corner-cutting MiM manufacturing. Go back to what got you here–Steel handguns, precisely fitted and very accurate. Not some ‘Model of the Month’ marketing horseshite.

  • Charlie November 17, 2017, 2:22 pm

    Get rid of that Clinton hole in the side of this new gun and any other Smith-Wesson revolver and they will sell more . I have one with the hole and will not buy any more. My opinion it is not necessary and looks bad as well as making it function with a heavier trigger pull.

  • lukeum November 17, 2017, 12:02 pm

    fugly sucky horrible lookin when you have a good thing stay with it s&w

  • Eric November 17, 2017, 11:15 am


  • shrugger November 17, 2017, 10:52 am

    Lose that POS lock and I’ll think about it.

    • Cyrus November 17, 2017, 11:08 am

      Exactly! It ruins the whole gun! Some Democrat must be on their design team!

  • Lee Blackman November 17, 2017, 10:34 am

    I run a 686 SSR for IDPA and 929PC for USPSA…. This is what I’ve learned…. and I really wish S&W would read this feedback or someone would pass it on.

    1) Put a fiber optic front sight on the gun from the factory…
    2) Get rid of the MiM hand and cylinderstop, even if you keep the MiM hammer and other parts. These two parts wear out way to fast for any level of competitive shooter. I would say ditch the MiM parts all together, it would save folks the serious amount of money they are going to have to spend to have power custom replacement parts fitted later.. but if anything at least those two parts.
    3) There is no point to having a 7-shot competition revolver, it doesn’t fit into any USPSA or IDPA division…
    4) Ditch the hammer spur…
    5) Factory sub 8lb smooth DA trigger would be good without being excessive. It would at least help the entry level guys out a lot…
    6) Actually fit the over travel stops, anyone who spend 10 seconds messing with the gun can figure out its just an aesthetic feature now and they aren’t really fitted to the guns actual over travel distance. Every one is the exact same size, and considerably to short to actually function, like they aren’t even there.
    7) Chamfer the cylinders a little more…. just a little….

  • Boss November 17, 2017, 9:58 am

    Stupid lock! They put that in to keep their stock price low. They spit in the eye of their would be customer. What will it take for S&W to understand the level antipathy that ALL of us have for them trashing what would have been a work of art. Why not paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa!
    Mesmerized by stupidity like Colt, who refuses to even make revolvers, which would add tremendously their bottom line and employ the kind of people we like to be employed.
    Dang it!

  • W.P. Zeller November 17, 2017, 9:28 am

    So let me get this straight: you want a higher-performance revo for action shooting sports like IDPA and ICORE, and you take weight off the nose of the gun with a silly wannabe rib and lightened underlug? The front of the gun, where weight is most beneficial to fast, accurate shooting?
    Seems like Bold New Graphics marketing technology.

  • Blue Dog November 14, 2017, 7:03 pm

    I love a good Smith double action but those cylinder releases are Ug-Ly. I am sure they are very practical in competitive shooting situations but they look awkward and gawky. I must also wonder if they sit well in standard K-Frame holsters.
    They also highlight that internal lock. Those internal locks are nothing short of a desecration. And they are probably made out of MIMS parts. I’ll stick with my Model 66.

    • Big G November 17, 2017, 8:07 am

      Wow a hillary hole safety and a taurus/rossi looking vent rib.. I so miss the days of forged hammers and triggers..Smith and Weason fire some people and go back to what S&W use to be great at ..

  • Mark November 11, 2017, 1:54 pm

    Hey S & W lose the internal lock and I’ll consider buying one.

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