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Old February 29, 2012, 02:28 PM   #1
kylen
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What else can I do?

I have a S&W Model 686-5 and I absolutely love it. What else can I do to improve on this gun? Any ideas thoughts would be appreciated. Also it is hard to find anything but a range (open carry) holster for this 4 inch barrel beauty.

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Old February 29, 2012, 04:23 PM   #2
MrBorland
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Congrats on a fine gun. The -5 is my preferred variant - pre-lock, frame-mounted firing pin, pinned front sight, new style cylinder latch. The -5 is the only variant that can claim all this.

Quote:
What else can I do to improve on this gun?
1. Better front sight. The red ramp is a jack of all trades, master of none, IMO. I use my 686s for IDPA, so I put a red fiber optic on them. My backup 686 is a -5 (top gun in the photo below), and I had a Weigand interchangeable front sight base installed, which is the best (but priciest) option. It allows one to swap out the front sight in seconds, either because the fiber broke, or because conditions call for something else.

2. Action job. It's a rare trigger that can't be improved by a good action job. While it's at the gunsmith having the action job & sight base installed, have the smith inspect it to be sure all else is in spec, then have him re-crown it & re-cut the forcing cone.

3. Chamfer the chamber mouths for easier reloads.

4. Grips that fit your hand.

The above are what I consider standard mods on my guns. In addition, other things you might consider are:

- Conversion to DAO. You might include an Apex Tactical hammer, so you can keep the OEM hammer
- if you hate the MIM trigger, install a Power Custom forged trigger
- Swap the cylinder release latch for an SDM. Much grippier than the OEM latch
- radius & polish of the trigger face
- installation of a ball detent on the yoke


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Old February 29, 2012, 08:56 PM   #3
Standing Wolf
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I've done or had action jobs done on all but one or two of my revolvers. That can be as simple as replacing springs and polishing the rebound slide, as complex as finding a competent gunsmith and paying for the type of action you want.

You could send it to http://www.magnaport.com/ for assorted work. I've had all my carry guns and most of the rest ported and their muzzles dish-crowned. I've had most of my stainless steel guns glass bead-blasted and hammers and triggers jeweled. Prettying guns doesn't appeal to everyone, to be sure, but porting can reduce perceived recoil, (and increase muzzle flash and noise,) and muzzle crowning can protect the muzzle.

You might want to think about Herrett's stocks made to fit your hand; I've had excellent success with Nill's, as well.

If you'd like your gun engraved, I can recommend Michael Gouse of Montana.
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Old March 1, 2012, 01:06 AM   #4
Viper225
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Looks like the basic tune up work is pretty well covered.

Holster: How about a Lobo Enhanced Pancake with Optional Inner Hammer Shield. I prefer a Medium Tan Finish, and 1.5" belt Tunnels. It will come Detail Boned to the gun at no extra charge.

If you need better weapon retention, you can also order it with Thumb Break. Ray normally has about a 4 to 5 week delivery time. Not bad at all for a custom made holster.

With a good gun belt you should be set.

http://lobogunleather.com/

Bob
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Old March 2, 2012, 10:09 AM   #5
kylen
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Okay

Thanks for all the fantastic information everyone.
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Old March 2, 2012, 04:57 PM   #6
Sevens
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You could also have it converted to use moon clips, if that's something that interests you.

Mr. Borland, please expound on your reasons for the dash-5 items and why you prefer them. Always looking to improve my playbook.
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Old March 2, 2012, 05:51 PM   #7
MrBorland
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Quote:
Mr. Borland, please expound on your reasons for the dash-5 items and why you prefer them. Always looking to improve my playbook.
Sure. Keep in mind, though, that my 686s are my IDPA guns, so these personal preferences (and they're just that) are guided by that. IOW, folks, let's not turn this into a "new vs old S&W".

pre-lock: I'm no Lock-hater, but I'm no fan, either. My 1° 686 (a -6) has The Lock. That's Life. And IDPA rules prohibit it's removal. That's Life, too. Yet, it (the gun) has performed flawlessly. Nonetheless, it's a mechanical part for which I have no use, so all else being being equal, I'd opt for the simpler design of the -5.

frame-mounted firing pin: For one thing, I convert my match guns to DAO, with as light a hammer as possible*, and hammers with the FP attached can't be made as light as those without. Randy Lee, for example, known for his incredible tuning of DA revolvers, makes a terrific DAO replacement hammer, but only for guns with frame-mounted pins.

Also, if either FPs break, a frame-mounted pin (or spring) is much easier to replace. In fact, if you carry a spare (and a screwdriver), you can do the swap in the field in a few minutes. Not only can you not field-replace the hammer-mounted FP, it's generally enough of a PITA that most will have a gunsmith do the work.

Finally, aftermarket frame-mounted FPs are available which are slightly longer, and claim (don't have the data myself) to improve reliability of match guns that have been tuned close to their lower limit. I'm not aware of any aftermarket hammer-mounted pins for über-tuned guns.

pinned front sight: The front sight on earlier versions (up to, and including -3s, AFAIK) is integral to the barrel, so replacing it involves some machining by a gunsmith. I feel there are better front sight options that the stock red ramp, and a pinned front sight makes the swap much easier, even if a gunsmith does it.

new style cylinder latch: I just like them better than the old style. Better ergonomics, and less interference with a speedloader, IME. Truth be told, in 2 cases, I've replaced even the new style latches with aftermarket latches from SDM, which are visually indistinguishable, but are much grippier.

Quote:
You could also have it converted to use moon clips, if that's something that interests you.
Yeah, you could, but be aware of 2 things before making that leap:

1. Moons work best with short, fat auto rounds, such as .45acp & .40S&W. Loading relatively long and skinny revolver rounds from a moonclip can be like pushing spaghetti. Also, moons for revolver rounds are thinner, exacerbating the spaghetti effect, and are more easily bent.

2. If you ever get the itch to compete in a local IDPA match, conversion of the cylinder will take you out of the natural home of the 686 (SSR) and into ESR, even if you don't use moonclips. Most local matches probably won't even know the difference, and even if they did, they'd likely let you still shoot SSR if you use speedloaders. Even so, I've never found enough advantage to the conversion to do it. If I wanted a moonclipped .357, I get a 627 for the 8-shot capacity, and shoot gamer .38 Short Colts from it. (so IDPA-illegal, I wouldn't know where to start explaining why )




* and pre-lock hammers on IDPA guns can be made even lighter since they don't have to retain the locking flag.
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Old March 3, 2012, 05:42 AM   #8
ClydeFrog
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Wheel guns are real guns...

As a "southpaw"(left hander), I packed & shot many DA only revolvers.
Now in 2012, I'd say a DA only hammer fired pistol is FAR better than a wheel gun for a # of valid reasons.
If you want to upgrade the S&W revolver, I'd check www.americanpistol.com .
Some custom jobs to get IMO include: a duty action hone, a DA only modification(no single action), no spur, chamfer the cylinders, plate or coat the entire firearm with Bearcoat, NP3+ or Black-T, Mag-Na-Port or Hybraporting & new Hogue or CT grips(laser grips).
Gemini Customs & Clark Custom Guns do great S&W revolver work IMO.
See; www.Crimsontrace.com www.Geminicustoms.com www.robarguns.com www.Bearcoat.com www.Black-T.com .
Note; Bearcoat is available in many color options & includes a lifetime service policy. They are fast too with shop work. Black-T is highly rated in the shooting sports/military industries. It only comes in a matte black or dark green.

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Old March 4, 2012, 01:51 AM   #9
Sevens
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Great stuff, Mr. B. You've gotta live competition revolvers to have such a take. I knew you wouldn't disappoint.

On the risk of drifting the thread... do you do any 25 or 625 and .45 & moon clips, since you do so much wheelgunnin'?
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Old March 7, 2012, 08:35 PM   #10
Cold Steel
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The 686 is the finest .357 made. Rugers are fine, but they do better with heavier bullets and have inferior actions. I prefer the Ruger Security-Six because they're easier to carry while camping, hunting or hiking. If attacked by a cougar (as a friend of mine was), do you want a heavy barrel that's more difficult to pick up targets with, or a light barrel that picks up targets much easier? Of course you have the 4-inch barrel, so you're doing okay.

S&W introduced the 686 to compete directly with the Colt Python, and dang if they didn't do a good job! Bolting both into Ransom rests, the 686 showed it could keep up with the Python accuracy-wise. The actions also were at least as good as the Python (at least mine are). The 686s are cheaper and don't have the timing issues the Python has.

The Ruger GP-100s are boat anchors, as one poster noted. They lack the inherent accuracy of the 686 and do better with heavier bullets. That actually isn't as bad as it sounds, in that light bullets are better for self defense and close in applications while heavier bullets are better for hunting and long range use. The Security-Six was the same way.

The Security-Six is still my favorite .357, but I sure like the 4-inch 686. It's only when they get to the 6-inchers that things get dicey.

The 686-0 is my favorite release. It came with beautiful wood grips and hard chromed trigger and hammer. The action is incredible.




The 686-0 is my favorite release. It's gorgeous, no?




With 6-inch barrels, the Security-Six and S&W 66 easily beat the 686
because they're easier to carry and shoot in the field. For competition,
the 686 is the way to go. Some people say they get action jobs on
the 686; however, my 686s came with great actions.


.
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Old March 7, 2012, 08:56 PM   #11
SIGSHR
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If you can shoot it well, it is accurate and reliable, the action feels OK, I would say comfortable grips are all you need.
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Old March 7, 2012, 09:41 PM   #12
orionengnr
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Great info from knowledgeable folks. MrBorland, good info as always.

The only addition I can make is on the holster--if you are looking for an IWB for that 4-incher, talk to Eric at Side Guard Holsters. Several years back he made me a "Double Clip" one for my 586 (which I subsequently sold ) but I managed to "work it in" a bit and now carry a 4" N-frame in it.

The holster is all leather and has the two widely spaced kydex clips similar to my old Alessi Watch Six.
Very nice work and a true gentleman to deal with.
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