Smith & Wesson Model 586: Reviewing A .357 Revolver With Class
Every cowboy needs a revolver. I’ll admit that I carry a Glock 17 most places. However, when I dress Western, nothing beats the classic good looks of my Smith & Wesson (S&W) 586 .357 revolver. The deep blue metal contrasts nicely with the walnut grips, and it looks good on my hip. This is not John Wayne’s revolver – it is a modern work of art!
The beginning of the 20th century saw the need for a revolver for police and personal protection. The .38 Special cartridge was popular, but by 1935 S&W introduced the .357 Magnum cartridge, a longer round capable of higher velocity and heavier bullets. The Model 586 was introduced in 1980 and successfully tamed the heavy recoil of this cartridge with a larger frame and comfortable walnut grips. This L-frame gun replaced the smaller light K-frame.
Barrel lengths can be had from 2.5 to 8.5 inches. Based on the serial number and the “-3” after the 586, I know that my S&W was manufactured sometime during or just after 1988 in Springfield, Mass.
Although it is old, this 586 has a tight action. Most semi-auto handguns are limited to 5-inch or shorter barrels. My Model 586-3 comes with a 6-inch barrel, giving me both an 8-inch sight radius and higher velocity. I find the 6-inch to be convenient to carry and accurate for hunting and target shooting to at least 100 yards.
The standard wood grips fill my hand nicely. The checkering is deep, helping my grip. I like the warm feel of real wood in my hand when I aim and fire. It controls shot placement well. Sights are white-outlined micro adjustable rear with a red insert front. They are quick to pick up and very accurate.
Fully loaded, this gun weighs about 3 pounds. It balances well. Although the double-action trigger pull is a hefty 10 pounds, it is very smooth. Cock the hammer for single-action shooting, and I have a 2-pound trigger that is a joy to squeeze.
The cylinder release located on the left side of the frame is large and checkered, making reloading quick. I use HKS Model 586-A speedloaders when I compete with this revolver to make reloading faster. No need to reach into my pockets for loose rounds – I simply drop a loaded speedloader onto the open cylinder, turn the dial clockwise and the rounds drop into the cylinder. Close the cylinder and I am ready to fire again in under 30 seconds!
Holding my S&W model 586, I feel a tingle of anticipation down my spine! It is solid and powerful. Kick is noticeable but not painful. Accuracy is very good at 25 yards due in part to the lack of moving parts – there is no moving slide nor ejecting brass to distract me.
This revolver hits where you aim it. Hitting 2-liter soda jugs is easy and fun! I can hit my steel “milk bottle” target with a tight group, and smacking the smaller swinging steel plate is easy too. I occasionally use this revolver to shoot 3-gun competition. Although slow to reload and limited to six rounds, I usually hit my mark.
Besides, this gun is fun to shoot! Counting to six and reloading is a challenge. Anyone can fire 17 rounds without a reload from a semi-automatic pistol. The S&W 586 makes you think as you shoot.
Weight: 2.89 pounds
Length: 11.3 inches
Barrel length: 6 inches
Height: 6 inches
Width: 2.5 inches
Cylinder capacity: Six .357 Magnum or .38 Special +P
Sights: Micro adjustable white-outlined rear and red insert front ramp
Overall length exceeds most semi-automatic pistols
Detailed cleaning may require gunsmithing skills
If you are looking for a bit of retro fun in a new or used handgun, the S&W Model 586 is for you! It is a classic design with modern strength, accuracy, and smooth action. My revolver is old and is a good example of how well Smith & Wesson builds revolvers. The .357 round is powerful enough to knock down steel in competition, take medium-sized game, and serve for home defense. This is a classic from an old American firearm maker in modern times.