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Old November 5, 2012, 12:11 PM   #1
mjm29287
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Some Help for a Beginner

I recently acquired a S&W 686-2 but don't know too much about it and I've got a few questions that I hope are simple enough to answer. What does the "-2" mean after the 686, I couldn't find much detail online surprisingly? I can't tell how long the barrel is, I measured from the cylinder to the end of the barrel, its just under 6", but from the "housing" (not sure of terminology - where the barrel meets the "gun") to the end of the barrel its exactly 5". I've been told this gun will fire both .357 magnum rounds and .38 special rounds, correct? What is a good practice round I can buy for the range while I learn to shoot this gun? What is a good round for actual self defense? Thanks in advance from someone who is excited to start learning.
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Old November 5, 2012, 12:57 PM   #2
DFrame
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Welcome to the forum!
Everytime S&W makes an engineering change they update the model numbers with a dash. Your gun has had two such changes. In practical terms you can ignore it. Yes your gun can use 38 special ammunition. A good (very light) practice round is the "Mid-range Wadcutter". Congratulations. Your .357 is one of the most useful calibres ever invented and ammunition ranges all the way from mid-range wadcutters to 357 flamethrowers. Revolver barrels are measured from the very back that protrudes through the frame, to the muzzle. Yours is most likely a 6 inch barrel. The 357 is an excellent defense round though some people find the recoil and muzzle blast annoying. A little practice and you'll do fine.
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Last edited by DFrame; November 5, 2012 at 01:04 PM.
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Old November 5, 2012, 01:36 PM   #3
kle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm29287
What does the "-2" mean after the 686, I couldn't find much detail online surprisingly?
The 686 no-dash and -1 had an issue with certain brands of ammo, which when fired would lock up the gun so tight that the user could not pull the trigger again without needing tools to un-jam it. Annoying when at the range, potentially fatal when used by police officers. The L-frame guns (581, 586, 681, 686) were recalled and retrofitted to address the issue, and the -2 engineering change incorporated the changed parts into normal production.

Current production is the -6 engineering change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm29287
I can't tell how long the barrel is, I measured from the cylinder to the end of the barrel, its just under 6", but from the "housing" (not sure of terminology - where the barrel meets the "gun") to the end of the barrel its exactly 5".
You measure from the end of the cylinder to the end of the barrel; based on the information you posted, you have a 6" barrel (or nominally six inches, anyways; it may not measure exactly 6"). It is a common mistake to measure from the frame to the end of the barrel, but the bit of barrel that screws into the frame and the bit of barrel that extends into the cylinder window (the "forcing cone") is also considered to be part of the barrel of a revolver, so are included when measuring a barrel's length.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm29287
I've been told this gun will fire both .357 magnum rounds and .38 special rounds, correct? What is a good practice round I can buy for the range while I learn to shoot this gun? What is a good round for actual self defense? Thanks in advance from someone who is excited to start learning.
That is correct; .357 Magnum is dimensionally the same as .38 Special, with the exception of the casing being lengthened about 1/10" to prevent its chambering in older revolvers that can't take the pressures of Magnum loads. This means that you can shoot .38 Special and .38 Special +P ("plus P") out of revolvers chambered for .357 Magnum.

A "good practice round" that you can use to learn to shoot is whatever is cheapest and will shoot in your gun. I would think this generally means .38 Special ammo, probably with a 125gr to 130gr bullet, purchased from a "big box" store like Walmart or Big5 or whatever.

Dryfire practice (practicing without ammo) will be as beneficial as (if not more) than live-fire practice; it's free and can be done at home without the distractions of a shooting range.

A "good round for actual self defense" is one that you will feel will do the job. Researching the various offerings from the different manufacturers should give you a good idea of what to expect.

Last edited by kle; November 5, 2012 at 03:30 PM.
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Old November 5, 2012, 02:39 PM   #4
Sevens
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HA! I get the opportunity to post before someone else posts about shooting .38's in a .357 Magnum: many folks may tell you that they don't like to do it because of a carbon fouling ring in their chambers, but please, just simply clean your revolver -- especially the chambers. This is not a big deal even if some may wish for you to think that it is. As was said above me, .38 Special ammo is a bit shorter so dirt & fouling will end up in a place short of where proper .357 Magnum ammo chambers.

If you went to a range and shot a lot of .38 Special and then immediately attempted to chamber some .357 Magnum, you might find that your rounds don't seat easily, or won't seat fully. Easily rectified by proper cleaning, no long term damage to your firearm is present.

The 686 revolvers are fantastic handguns, a dash-2 is a great one. You've got a fantastic revolver there and as a new guy--you have put yourself in a position that you ought to be aware of: much of what you'll find in new .357 Magnum revolvers may be a bit of a letdown in comparison with what you already own now. That's not a bad thing, but it's good to be aware of it.

If you've not shot it yet, be prepared for the major difference between .38 Special and .357 Magnum. .357 runs nearly TWICE the pressure of the .38 Special, and you'll see a large difference in, well, everything you see, feel, hear and, well, witness.
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Old November 5, 2012, 03:16 PM   #5
BigJimP
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I reload for .357 mag ( and .38 spl ) ....but the bullet I've shot for a long time in both calibers ...is the 158gr / the traditional bullet in that caliber. Its a good all around bullet ...and fine for Defense as well. I load a Montana Gold bullet - 158gr JSP...to about 1250 fps..../ for the grandkids, I load the same bullet in a .38 spl ...at about 750 fps for a nice soft shooting practice round. I practice with the full blown .357 mag loads...in all of my S&W K, L, N frame revolvers in .357 mag...

If I did not reload....I'd buy Magtech ammo ...158gr JSP .. Its about 1235 fps...but its a good all around cartridge / and I'd use it for Defense as well.

http://www.magtechammunition.com/sit...search=details

The model 686-2 is a fine gun / very strong gun ....you've made a good choice. The 686-2 was made in 1987 ( it was changed to a -3 in 1988).

Despite some reported issues with the no dash and -1 series between 1980 and 1987 / I have a dash 1 model in 6" with many thousands of rounds thru it - and the gun has never been a problem. Enjoy the new revolver !
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Old November 5, 2012, 04:36 PM   #6
sgms
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As previously stated the dash number indicates an engineering/production change to the 686 line. The dash 2 change was done in 1987 and was a change in the hammer nose, bushing, and associated parts. The entire m-686 series are very good revolvers and well worth having.
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Old November 6, 2012, 06:19 PM   #7
mjm29287
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Thanks

Thanks everyone for answering all my questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. I'm excited to get out to the range!
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