S&W 686 issue

A friend just got a new S&W 686 so we took it to the range to try it out.
When loaded, it repeatedly froze on one chamber—you couldn’t pull the trigger nor cock the hammer.
In order to fire you had to open the cylinder and advance to the next chamber by hand.
This only occurred when the revolver was loaded—empty you could dry fire all seven chambers repeatedly.

The range master thought it just needed wearing in, but I’m skeptical —does he want my friend to dry fire until there is an improvement? How else does one wear in a revolver that won’t index?
If it were mine I’d send it back to S&W. At present it is worthless for HD, which was the reason for it’s purchase in the first place.

Has anyone else had this problem with new S&W 686s?


I’d contact S&W and send it in. When you get it back, take it to the range and test it until you can trust it. I don’t have one, but that’s what I did with my wife’s SCCY… Still awaiting it’s return for testing.

Never had a problem with mine. I ran the cleaning brush through the bore before I shot it then wiped it down and lubed the cylinder shaft. Check to see if the cylinder locking system is all the way in the off position. Other than that I would contact Smith and Wesson.

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Probably not related, but is the ejector rod loose? IIRC, it’s lefty tightly, righty loosey on the ejector rod. Be careful if tightening as you could damage the mechanism with improper technique.

Also, how tight is the cylinder gap? Is it the same for every chamber?

Was the ammo in spec? Was it reloaded or factory? Did you have the problem with different ammunition? Did you check for bullet creep/crimp jump?

I would definitely send it back to Smith&Wesson because the gun freezing at one cylinder is a problem. There customer service is good and they shouldn’t give you a problem.

You know if you have a primer that maybe was sticking out to much or maybe a bad reload. Was all the ammo the same?

A couple questions as it could easily be ammo related or gun related. If you took the cartridge in the problem chamber and put it in another chamber, would the gun function properly? If so, its a gun issue. If the problem then followed the cartridge, its an ammo problem. Likewise, if you completely unloaded the 686 and reloaded it with completely fresh ammo (ammo not having been loaded in the cylinder) do you have the same problem? Did you mark the chamber to ensure the problem is always on the same chamber?

Ok, a few more questions on ammo. Were you shooting factory or reloads? Lead or jacketed/plated bullets? Were you shooting .38 Special or .357 Mag, or did you shoot .38 Special then .357 Mag? If you shot .38 then switched to .357, the .38 can leave a fouling ring in the front part of the chamber that can prevent the .357 round from fully seating in the chamber thus leading to the issue you described. Likewise, if you were shooting a lot of soft lead and the b/c gap is too tight, it can tie a revolver up as well, but it would probably be on more than one chamber.

Sorry, too many variable in my mind to know if its a gun or ammo related issue. Also, did your friend fully clean the 686 before taking it to the range? New firearms should always be fully cleaned and lubed to get the non-lube preservative off and to help flush out any small pieces of metal and manufacturing crap that can still be on the firearm. A little metal shaving in the wrong spot can easily tie up a revolver.

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Everything on the gun looked good and the ammunition was new Federal range ammo.
I’m going to recommend my friend to send it back to S&W.

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I’m disappointed and will be paying attention to this blog’s findings. I’ve been waiting for the chance to get my hands on one at a local dealer that has one brand new for a really good cost.
Now…, I’m seriously skeptical and remember years ago when my Father was a Deputy in Fla. discussing a very similar issue with a .38 Colt Python.
It did one of (2) things. It either froze on one of its chambers in qualification shoots, or was notorious with dropping the hammer with a misfire ( weak hammer action). My Father almost bought one until several LEO’s discovered these problems and he felt it all out during a trial share amongst those present with those firearms.
All ammo was out of the boxes new- no reloads ( they’re banned at that time on LEO ranges for qualifications), and the firearms were new. It seemed to be a recurrent problem or both at the same time.
If…, I remember correctly, S & W did a mass safety recall and shortly thereafter that model fell out of favor fast.
Another contributing factor was LEO’s began to convert over to Semi’s during this era. We’re talking 1985
So now I can only wonder…(?) “ Is this a remake of an old problem with a different model number?”
Has me concerned. I will wait until I see our fellow contributors here post their reports.
Good blog…, might’ve just saved me a serious buyers remorse guilt!
Thanks to all. Please… keep us posted!

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You know I’m sure this could’ve been one that quality assurance let go but this is a big company and I am sure they will either replace or fix the gun.

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My opinion, dont let this scare you. S&W is a very good, reputable brand that stands behind its product. One needs to think about how many of these are produced every year with users that you never hear about because they are completely satisfied. It will be interesting to hear what the issue actually is, if it is even the gun. But even if it is, every company has an occasional one that gets out that does not perform as expected. What I am saying is dont let one potentially firearm with issues necessarily scare you off from a company with a solid reputation. **


Actually this is a great topic, not only isolated to a S & W 686. Currently I prefer buying new guns over used because I have found most manufacturers stand behind their products. Over the years (I am older than I would like to admit to now) I had a Browning High Power that had the welded in barrel bushing on the front of the slide break off and fly downrange rendering the gun innoperable. Browning fixed it and sent it back to the gunstore free of charge, and I have never had a problem since then with the pistol. More Recently I had a Walther CCP that had a busted firing pin spring retainer/guide (can’t remember the exact part name). The gun still fired, but had a tendency to Jam quite a bit. I sent that in and they fixed it, all I had to do was pay shipping. Most firearms manufacturers all seem to care about selling reliable products. So far I have also heard very good stories about Sturm Ruger as well.