Exclusive: S&W Performance Center Model 686 Plus Looks Like A Winner

By Dave Workman

I think the first time I saw a Smith & Wesson Model 686 “Plus”—because the cylinder holds 7 rounds instead of just 6—was on a gun range near my home when one of the guys who knows what I do for a living hit me with the, “Hey, look what I got!”

If I recall correctly—this was several years ago—my reaction was, “Well, how about that! Can I shoot it?”

The original Model 686, with a 6-round capacity, was introduced back in the 1980s and it was a winner in my book. Having had what some psychologists might call an obsessive affinity toward S&W double-action wheelguns (I own more than one), I’ve always been impressed with their smooth action and reliability. My first D/A revolver was a Model 19 with a 6-inch barrel, Patridge front sight, handsome blue finish and a set of factory grips gave way to a pair of Herrett’s it still wears today.

So, when the 686 came along on the “L” frame, it got my attention. It was a handful, but it handled very well. Since then, every variation of the Model 686 I’ve fired has performed rather well. I can’t recall an inaccurate one—and that counts with me ahead of everything else.

The company added the 686 Plus with its 7-round cylinder in 1996, according to a history of the revolver I found online. That would make my introduction to the 7-shooter about right.

Along comes the Performance Center Pro Series Model 686 Plus and my guess is a lot of people have simply drooled. Right, it’s just another .357 Magnum. Just keep thinking that.

I did a little homework for this article just to get the specs right. This incarnation has a precision crowned 5-inch barrel with an interesting vent rib, overall length of 10.6 inches, interchangeable front sight, adjustable rear sight, synthetic grip, stainless steel construction with matte finish and it hits the scale at 38.2 ounces. The teardrop hammer and trigger are chromed and it features a trigger stop. And, it’s a 7-shooter with an un-fluted cylinder.

It’s got S&W’s internal lock mechanism to keep it from being misused, and a custom cylinder release. The cylinder is cut for the use of moon clips.

Now, 7 rounds of .357 Magnum is enough to ruin the day for deer-sized game, keep the home protected, make a difference on the range and discourage predators on two or four legs. I have yet to find any revolver built on the L-Frame that can’t handle full house .357 loads, and for a lot of years, it was the cartridge of choice for more western sheriffs and metropolitan police officers than any other revolver round. It is a flat shooter and hard hitter.

Of course, the Performance Center Model 686 Plus will digest .38 Special +P loads all day long, just like any other revolver in this S&W series.

According to the S&W website, this revolver has an MSRP of $989.00, which means you’re getting a lot of bang for the buck.

Find out more at: www.gunsmagazine.com/company/smith-wesson


Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: Performance Center Pro Series Model 686 Plus
Caliber: .357 Magnum, .38 S&W SPECIAL +P
Capacity: 7
Barrel Length: 5 inches
Front Sight: Interchangeable
Rear Sight: Adjustable
Action: Single/Double Action
Grip: Synthetic
Weight: 38.2 ounces
Cylinder Material Stainless Steel
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Frame Material: Stainless Steel
Frame Finish: Matte Silver
OAL: 10.6″
MSRP: $989.00

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