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Old July 5, 2013, 12:28 PM   #1
MaDMaXX
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S&W 686+ - 4 or 6 inch barrel?

Whilst i'm not ready to get one just yet, i'm trying to investigate this early in order that my sights are set

Most of what i do is target/plinking fun, i have the more serious aspects of gun ownership covered. With that in mind, i'm not sure (before i go play around at a store) whether i should looking for a 4 or a 6 inch barrel on this gun.


Any thoughts, comments or experience?


Thanks.

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Old July 5, 2013, 12:50 PM   #2
silvrjeepr
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S&W 686+ - 4 or 6 inch barrel?

6" = more velocity + better accuracy with all other things being equal. I would go with 6" on a target/plinking rig.
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Old July 5, 2013, 12:54 PM   #3
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For you described uses I’d go with the six inch.
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Old July 5, 2013, 01:02 PM   #4
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4". You'll want to carry it at some time and it'll be easier for the 4". Trust me, I'm from the government.
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Old July 5, 2013, 01:26 PM   #5
MrBorland
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If you get a chance, try holding and gripping each before deciding. The balance between the 2 is a bit different, and some prefer one over the other. If the 6" feels muzzle heavy to you, for instance, any gains in sight radius may be offset by a hold that's less steady.
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Old July 5, 2013, 02:03 PM   #6
Bob Wright
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My solution? Get one of each!



And........



I bought the 4" first, then the 6". I like the 6" for informal target shooting. But, then every once in awhile, I like to run a few targets in rapid DA fire, the 4" gets that workout.

For carry?



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Old July 5, 2013, 04:29 PM   #7
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I have three 686's. 8 3/8", 4", & 3". I also have a Python in a 6". So I think I'm qualified to speak on this one

The 6" is going to give you a little more velocity and will be more tame with full-house rounds. That extra 2" of underlugged barrel will make a big difference when you're shooting flame-thrower ammo.

That said, I'd go with the 4". My 4" is my favorite gun (of ALL my guns) to shoot. It's really well balanced, feels "right" in the hand (for me), and it's still managable with full-house rounds. I shoot my 4" (out of box stock) in IDPA.
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Old July 5, 2013, 08:21 PM   #8
MaDMaXX
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Thanks all for the replies!

I won't be carrying this, regardless, i'll carry my 92FS before this one

I'm curious as to why you'd take the 4inch over the 6 for rapid fire DA shooting, what difference does that make?


I like the suggestion of feeling the two sizes for balance, that makes a lot of sense, if it feels too nose heavy, i won't enjoy shooting it as much.
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Old July 5, 2013, 08:25 PM   #9
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For your use, a 6" is a better option. That said, you can't go wrong with either. I'd suggest go and hold both. See which feels best in your hand. If a 6" feels muzzle heavy, a 4" might work better for you.

Really though, you can't go wrong picking one over the other. Pick what feels best to you.
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Old July 5, 2013, 11:08 PM   #10
Nick_C_S
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MaDMaXX, assuming your question was addressed to me, regarding rapid fire DA with a 4 vs 6" barrel:

First, IDPA only allows a maximum 4" barrel, so a 6" is outside the rules. But even if it were, I'd still go with a 4". Yes, the 6 would have a faster recovery time, when you're shooting ONE target multiple times. But the 4 has less mass, so less inertia, and can be brought to bear on multiple targets faster. A lot of revolver IDPA shooters (there's about 6 of us nationwide - LOL) go with barrels as short as 2" for maximum maneuverability. It might be important to point out here that in IDPA, we shoot tame 38's, so recoil is minimal.

At any rate, I think we've gotten off subject here. From the drift I'm getting, you probably want the 6". Long barrels are good when concealment isn't an issue.
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Old July 6, 2013, 01:34 AM   #11
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Ok, if target acquisition speed and muzzle weight is the only real concern (outside of carry) then i guess i'd better see about holding the 4 and 6 inch and see what i think


Thanks everyone for all the answers.
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Old July 6, 2013, 02:18 AM   #12
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Split the difference...

If the choice really has you in agony, take a look at the Talo 5" models; if you can deal with the unfluted cylinder that is.

And if you have a wayback machine, or are incredibly lucky at auctions, there was a 5" Stocking Dealer Special quite a few years ago.

hth
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Old July 6, 2013, 02:22 AM   #13
MaDMaXX
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Thanks, though it's not really causing me any pain over the choice, i'm just way less familiar with revolvers and i'd like to make the right choice first time.

I think it's going to be down to feel, so i'll head to a dealer and see what they feel like, weight/balance-wise.
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Old July 6, 2013, 05:40 PM   #14
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When I bought my 686, I was a teenager and the -ONLY- one that looked truly "correct" is the 6-inch version. There's still a part of me that thinks (looks-wise)... I was on to something. I wouldn't have even considered a 4" at the time.

I love my revolver, but after a long session with it (150 rds+) it is a bit tiring and muzzle-heavy. And though I absolutely can and certainly have put the fun, heavy stuff through it -- I don't anymore. I will put .357 Magnum through it, of course, but I don't run the hardcore heavy ammo through it anymore. This is because I've got a number of .357 revolvers and this one is near & dear to my heart. But yeah, the extra 2-inches helps with heavy stuff. And it's not just two inches of tube, it's two inches of full lug.

I wouldn't change it or trade it for anything, but I can be honest (I hope it's not listening) but regardless of how it looks, a four-inch 686 feels more "right" when I pick it up. It simply does. The 6-inch isn't too "long" but with the full lug, it's a bit too muzzle heavy. And I am reminded of that when running a few boxes through it in one day.

Part of that is because I shoot a Model 10 and Model 19 a lot, both 4-inch, and they are shorter / smaller / lighter. Not by a lot, but it's definitely noticeable. A full-lug L-frame -AND- with two extra inches... it feels like a hog in comparison.
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Old July 6, 2013, 05:42 PM   #15
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Thanks for the extra info, definitely important consideration points.
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Old July 6, 2013, 10:08 PM   #16
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I have a 6" ( my first handgun ) and I wouldn't trade it for a 4"'. I just sold a 4". I wouldn't CC either one, so 6" for me. I get my best accuracy from it vs my other handguns.
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Old July 6, 2013, 10:58 PM   #17
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I've had a 4" for a number of years and love it ... I find it to be perfectly balanced and very accurate at SD distances, out to about 25 yds ... it's one of two guns in my modest collection I'd hold on to until the bitter end ...
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Old July 7, 2013, 10:37 AM   #18
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I have 4'', 5'' and 6'' 686s. I believe the difference between the 4'' and the 6'' is about 5 OZs. At the range the 6'' is most folk's pick over the 4''. While those with a slighter stature seem to prefer the 4'' over the 6'' because of weight/balance at first, after a few rounds off bags or from the rest, they tend to prefer the 6'' because of reduced recoil, less muzzle flip and better accuracy. Never have considered carrying the 4'' as a CWC , not only because of the weight, but the bulk. Even a Government sized 1911 carries better. If I was gonna carry it in a hip holster and ride around in a car/truck all day, I would pick a 4''. In a hunting holster for deer or for target shooting/plinkin', I'd pick a 6'' first. JMTCs.
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Old July 7, 2013, 02:05 PM   #19
MaDMaXX
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Good insights, thankyou all.
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Old July 7, 2013, 07:10 PM   #20
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My "no dash" 686 is a four inch but I'd probably choose a six inch barrel if I did not intend to carry the gun.

I saw one of the five inch "Stocking Dealer Specials" at a gun show a couple years back. That gun had a good balance. I've seen the Talo five inch guns but I don't care for the unfluted cylinder.
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Old July 8, 2013, 10:22 AM   #21
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Quote:
i'm just way less familiar with revolvers and i'd like to make the right choice first time.
The good news is, there's no "wrong" choice; just maybe a better choice for your own particular needs/wants. I'm with those who suggest a 4" barrel if you plan on carrying much; especially if carrying concealed and opting for the 6" model if most of your shooting will be at the range, shooting at targets. And I've never understood why the 5" revolver barrel length has never been really popular in America-maybe because what seems like the perfect compromise to some is neither fish nor fowl to others.

Good luck in making the "right choice". And welcome to The Firing Line!
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Old July 8, 2013, 10:40 AM   #22
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Quote:
..Most of what i do is target/plinking fun...
As several have posted, albeit in different words, there is no "best" barrel length for all shooting. Unless you buy all the different barrel lengths, and use a barrel length that most exactly fits the purpose, A gun for all purposes it is always going to be a matter of compromise. For what you describe as your primary purpose ("target/plinking fun"), I would choose the six inch because of the longer sighting radius and the more weight-forward for a steady aim. However, if you anticipate carrying it in a holster for any length of time, four-inch would seem to fit the bill better (It would be faster to get out of a holster). For dedicated handgun hunting, six or even 8-3/8 may be better. For Silhouette long distance, again the 8-3/8. For pocket, concealed carry, 1-7/8 snubbies are in order. So, you have to take your pick (or as Bob does), buy one of each or consider your primary purpose, or make compromises...as in "concealed" carrying an 8-3/8 inside your waist-band... with the barrel inside your pants-leg almost to your knee.
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Old July 8, 2013, 10:04 PM   #23
MaDMaXX
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Thanks, guys, i think unless the 'hand trial' screams otherwise, then i should probably go ahead and get the 6 inch.
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Old July 9, 2013, 05:04 AM   #24
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I like the 6" for a good range gun and shooting targets/steel. The extra weight steadies my shots for 50 yard shooting and the sight radius is a longer as well.
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Old July 9, 2013, 09:32 AM   #25
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I have a 5" and 6" L frame with full underlug. I think the 4" would balance better than 5" or 6".
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