Recently, I got my hands on my dream gun thanks to the Certified Used Guns Vault at I’ve been looking for a long time, and it’s finally mine.


s&w smith wesson revolver model 686 .357 magnum
In my mind, the snub-nosed Smith & Wesson Model 686 with walnut grips is the most beautiful gun ever made. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

It’s a Smith & Wesson Model 686-3 revolver chambered in .357 Magnum with a 2.5-inch barrel and original walnut grips. It is, in my mind, the most beautiful gun ever made.

My 686-3 is an L-framed revolver produced around 1988. The hammer features a firing pin, unlike newer models that have a transfer bar. There’s also no key lock, which is standard on all newer S&W revolvers.

686 PLUS

s&w smith wesson revolver model 686 plus .357 magnum
The Smith & Wesson 686 Plus is available today and holds seven rounds.

Now, I should say that buying a 686 is not difficult to do. Smith & Wesson currently produces a 686 Plus model that in fact holds seven rounds instead of six.

It’s often more affordable than older, more collectible models, such as my 686-3. I was going to buy a Plus model. Since it only comes with black rubber grips, I was going to order a pair of walnut grips from Altamont, but they have been backordered for some time, so I held off.

When I saw the 686-3 on with the exact original wood grips that I always wanted, I bought it right away. What’s nice is that it will likely increase in value as the years go by. And, since it’s built like a tank, I can shoot it in the meantime as long as I take good care of it. It’s a win-win situation.


s&w smith wesson revolver model 686 .357 magnum
The 686-3 has got some heft. It's almost entirely made of stainless steel. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

The 686-3 is a beast. It weighs 40.5 ounces, or just over 2.5 pounds, unloaded. In comparison, my Glock 19 Gen 5 with an empty mag weighs 23.63 ounces. While the 686-3 only holds six rounds of .357 Magnum or .38 Special, my G19 holds 15+1 rounds of 9mm. It's hard to beat modern polymer semi-automatic handguns.

s&w smith wesson revolver model 686 .357 magnum glock 19 g19
My Glock 19 Gen 5 (left) weighs almost half that of my Smith & Wesson 686-3. However, it doesn't look half as good. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

That being said, I don’t find myself caressing my G19 or admiring it during my free time. Although I carried the 686 a few times when I first got it, I switched back to my G19 for obvious reasons.


s&w smith wesson revolver model 686 .357 magnum
The adjustable sights on the 686-3 are big, bold, and easy to acquire. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Shooting my 686 is a dream, both with .357 Mags and .38 Special. The weight really helps tame recoil. The adjustable sights are big, bold, and easy to acquire. In single action, I achieved excellent accuracy results.

s&w smith wesson revolver model 686 .357 magnum
The exposed firing pin on the hammer and non-existent keyhole lock on the 686-3. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Firing in double action is a bit more challenging, especially in quick succession. If you can fire a little less rapidly, there is a sweet spot on the trigger right before it breaks. Again, with enough practice, accuracy can be greatly improved. Unfortunately, ammo for this gun is quite costly right now and hard to find, so it's challenging to get a lot of trigger time with it. I'm planning to pick up some snap caps to practice my dry-fire training.


s&w smith wesson revolver model 686 .357 magnum
9mm (left) and .38 Special (center) are common self-defense rounds. The .357 Magnum (right) trumps them both. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Whether you’re a revolver lover or not, I don’t think anyone can deny that the Smith & Wesson 686 series of revolvers are stunning firearms. I love Rugers and Colts, and Kimber K6S handguns are nice, too. But the 686 with a 2.5-inch barrel and wood grips is simply a thing of divine beauty.

I’m so happy I have the gun of my dreams. has a huge variety of new and used guns. If there’s a gun you’re looking for, I highly recommend checking in every few days on the site for what you’re looking for. That’s what I did, and it paid off – big time.

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