Dope bag: Smith & Wesson 686-4

Dope bag: Smith & Wesson 686-4

WITH compensators sprouting from the muzzles of all sorts of autoloading pistols, it was just a matter of time before they had to be tried on revolver barrels, too. Compensated revolvers first were seen in competitions like the NRA Bianchi Cup, and now the concept is being applied to service guns.

Smith & Wesson now offers its Model 686-4 with a ported compensator on 6″-barreled versions that also are fitted with a Hogue Monogrip stock.

The compensator consists of an oval port .467″ long and .197″ wide, perpendicular to the barrel between the Patridge-style front sight and the muzzle. The dimensions of the opening continue down, through the bore to a depth of approximately .705″ from the top of the rib. The area inside the barrel relieved by the port functions as an expansion chamber to assist in directing the gas up through the port.

The black rubber Hogue Monogrip stock is secured by a single screw passing through the butt to a clip hanging from the grip pins. Finger grooves and a textured surface ensure a positive grip.

As is the case with all new-production S&W K-, L- and N-frame revolvers equipped with adjustable rear sights, our test gun had three holes through the top strap, drilled and tapped for scope mounts. The forward most hole is used to mount the iron sight that is click-adjustable for windage and elevation.

The hammer has a deeply checkered spur, and the trigger is smooth. Both are case-hardened.

We were somewhat disappointed with the finish on our stainless steel test gun. While the frame and cylinder were brightly polished, the barrel and shroud had a dull, milky appearance.

Accuracy testing was performed using Remington, Federal and CCT Lawman ammunition, with the results shown in the accompanying table. (Table omitted) A variety of .38 Spl. and .357 Mag. ammunition was used for function-firing. There were no malfunctions of any kind.

The Smith & Wesson 686-4 was an unusually pleasant gun to shoot, thanks to the long barrel, recoil-absorbing rubber-stock and, of course, the factory compensator. Firing full-power .357 Mag. loads produced very little muzzle jump, though there was a brilliant display of muzzle flash.

Factory-compensated revolvers will likely assist the recoil-shy in learning good marksmanship, while helping more seasoned shooters continue to improve in fast firing.

Compensators are seen everywhere on autoloading pistols, and are becoming more popular for revolvers, too, helping to tame muzzle jump and recoil of powerful guns like S&W’s 686-4.

A large oval port just behind the muzzle (below) vents gases to keep the muzzle down. The topstraps of the large S&W revolvers are now drilled and tapped for easy scope installation.

S&W MODEL 686-4

MANUFACTURER: Smith & Wesson, Dept. AR, 2100 Roosevelt Ave., Springfield, MA 01101

MECHANISM TYPE: double-action revolver

CALIBER: .357 Mag.

OVERALL LENGTH: 6″

WEIGHT: 45 oz.

WIDTH: 1-1/2″

HEIGHT: 5-7/8″

CYLINDER CAPACITY: 6

RIFLING: five-groove, RH twist

TRIGGER: double-action pull, 11 lbs.; single-action pull, 3-3/4 lbs.

SIGHTS: click-adjustable rear, Patridge front

PRICE: $522

Some revolvers in .357 Mag. can be a handful, but the long lugged barrel, rubber grips and compensator of the Model 686-4 made fast repeat shots easy, regardless of the bullet weights and velocities of loads we tried.

The 686’s lugged barrel will remind veteran pistol shooters of the Colt Python, another .357 revolver that popularized the design.

Copyright National Rifle Association of America Mar 1995

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