Update on my new S&W 686 at the range

This is a discussion on Update on my new S&W 686 at the range within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Well, my range time yesterday with my new to me used S&W 686 that I posted about on Friday and Saturday turned out to be ...

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Thread: Update on my new S&W 686 at the range

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array LanceORYGUN's Avatar
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    Update on my new S&W 686 at the range

    Well, my range time yesterday with my new to me used S&W 686 that I posted about on Friday and Saturday turned out to be extremely disappointing. I could not shoot any decent groups at all with the gun.

    In examining the pistol earlier, I had neglected to really get a proper sight picture, and make sure that everything looked fine. When I got around to actually shooting the gun yesterday, I discovered that there unfortunately was a major problem.

    The front sight has a plastic insert in it, just like my Model 66 has. On my 66, however, this insert is a real dark reddish orange color. On this used 686 that I just purchased, the plastic insert is instead extremely pale and light in color. It is like all of the color somehow got bleached out of the insert

    I wonder, could this perhaps have happened when the pistol was polished? Could the polishing compound have taken out the color?

    In any event, the sight picture was absolutely horrible, contrasting a dark black rear sight outline with a front sight that was so light that it virtually disappeared when the background was the white paper of the targets.

    I experimented with 4 different 357 loads, to make sure that the pistol simply did not like a particular load. But changing ammo did not produce any better results.

    Also disconcerting was the fact that the revolver was shooting really far to the left, and slightly low. Since the handgun has fully adjustable sights, I adjusted them, and was able to get the elevation set perfect. However, even after adjusting the windage on the sights to their MAXIMUM setting to compensate, bullets were still impacting slightly left of the point of aim. I honestly don't know what to make of this, as I've never had a handgun shoot so far off like this before for me.

    I also did some shooting with my Sig P245, but was not having much luck grouping well with it either. At least, though, all the groups were perfectly centered on the target windage wise, as they always have been.

    I will definitely have to get the insert in the front sight of my 686 replaced. Does anyone know if there are any third party inserts available, that would provide a better looking sight picture than a factory replacement?

    I'm hoping that the bad sight picture was a big part of my poor shooting with the gun. Perhaps, though, I was also having a bad day, as I was not shooting my P245 well either.

    I'm unsure what could be done about the handgun shooting so far left, however.

    If I cannot get this gun to shoot a lot better, then it really will turn out to not have been a good purchase on my part.

    .

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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array AKsrule's Avatar
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    We will assume your ammo was good and you don't always shoot to the left.

    The front sight on your 686 is integral to the rib , so unless someone whacked it with a hammer it should be aligned with the bore.

    You can temporarily paint the insert and ramp with any dark paint you wish to
    help with the sight picture.

    This leaves two possibilities.

    1. the rear sight is loose , moves around or the notch is not moving when you adjust it. check it against a schematic online , clean it well, and recenter
    it before sighting in.

    2. The barrel may have been torqued too much or too little when installed- and therefore the front sight is actually canted.

    This would require straightening by a gunsmith.

    Good luck.
    -------
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  4. #3
    Distinguished Member Array LanceORYGUN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKsrule View Post
    We will assume your ammo was good and you don't always shoot to the left.
    Well, as I said, I tried 4 different loads, from Remington, Winchester, and Hornady. And I don't have a problem shooting to the left with other handguns, even with my P245 that I also shot with yesterday


    Quote Originally Posted by AKsrule View Post
    You can temporarily paint the insert and ramp with any dark paint you wish to help with the sight picture.
    That would indeed be a good temporary fix. But I would like to eventually also come up with something a bit more permanent than paint.


    Quote Originally Posted by AKsrule View Post
    1. the rear sight is loose , moves around or the notch is not moving when you adjust it. check it against a schematic online , clean it well, and recenter it before sighting in.
    I verified that the rear sight was moving correctly as I adjusted it. But even moving it over as far as it would go was not quite enough.

    I wonder if there could possibly be something unique about this old style S&W walnut target grip, that is causing me to shoot left? My S&W 66 has a synthetic grip that feels a lot different.

    Here is a photo of the gun, showing the grip that it has:





    I'll have to fix the front sight and experiment further on this.

    .

  5. #4
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    Hmmm...looks like the red ramp strikes again. When I was coming up, the red ramp was a big deal and a very desirable feature on a Smith & Wesson revolver. Years before obtaining one, I used to dream of owning a Model 29 with red ramp front sight. I even shot a Model 29 with red ramp front sight a couple of years before acquiring one but didn't discern its visual characteristics, thinking it was just so cool to use the sight and be shooting the .44 Magnum.

    After acquiring the Model 29, I took up silhouette shooting with it and that red ramp bedeviled me. It played havoc with perceiving an appropriately sharp focus on the front sight. It definitely contributed to missed targets on a bank of critters. The simple expedient of marking over it with a black Marks-A-Lot before a match was a big help. To this day I just mark over the sight if I'm taking a Smith & Wesson revolver equipped with a red ramp front sight out to the range for a spin. A rag dampened with Hoppe's No. 9 or rubbing alcohol removes the ink if desired or one can even re-mark the sight with the marker and wipe it before the ink dries. The wet marker ink cuts the previously applied ink.

    The red ramp can have some application in hunting situations. Here's a tale of woe where the red ramp stood me in good stead when it really shouldn't have.

    For several years prior to dedicating myself to hunt only with it I'd carry the Model 29 on my hip along with my chosen rifle, harboring the notion that I would use the revolver if a deer came in close enough. I always ended up using the rifle and didn't wait on one to come in close.

    On one of these outings I wore the .44 while carrying my favorite scoped .30-06 for an afternoon hunt in a part of my hunting lease that I'd not previously hunted. The cool, clear autumn afternoon was spent pleasantly watching the chickadees' antics as they fussed about the scrub oak. A gangly ol' jackrabbit ambled by. The sunset was vivid pink and orange with deep purple wisps of clouds as I got out of the stand, having never laid eyes on a deer. I removed the cartridge from the chamber of the rifle, slung it over my shoulder, and gathered my jacket to walk back to camp. My route took me along a cattle trail that led through a thick tangle of briers which loomed up on either side. Looking down the trail about 40 yards in the dusky light of the setting sun, I realized that an object was crouched in the middle of the path with tufted ears and large yellow eyes. A bobcat! Ooo... I'd like to take a nice bobcat, I thought, and the turkey rancher on whose place I hunted would appreciate it, having asked us to shoot varmints on sight. I let the jacket gently down to the ground while drawing the Smith & Wesson and thumbing the hammer. He didn't move and appeared to be sitting on his haunches. The red ramp front sight seemed to positively glow in the fading light as it settled just below his eyes. A caress of that sweet trigger and his fate was sealed.

    The impact of the bullet created the grandest cloud of fur you ever saw. I'd never seen anything like it. I was perplexed as I hoofed it up to where he lay in a heap because that fur almost seemed to hang in the air, slowly dissipating. Walking up I found that I'd actually hammered a great horned owl. This was most illegal, not to mention dismaying to me as my old high school mascot was the owl. I'd always enjoyed finding an old owl taking his daytime nap when I was a young 'un in my wanderings afield and hadn't wished to harm one.


    An additional thought: Replacement front sight inserts for Smith & Wesson revolvers in every color including black used to be available from Brownell's and also even from Smith & Wesson at one time. Don't know if these are still offered.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

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    Sorry to hear about the issues with your 686. Mine is dead nuts accurate for sure. I will say that the red ramp can give me a little grief if I am shooting in low light situations. For example a range I go to quite a bit will have light bulbs go out in your stall. I have noticed my shooting goes down hill when that happens.

    By the way, how close where you to those 1 inch groups with that Sig?
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    Sorry to hear. I am not not trying to make you feel bad, but I am more accurate with my 686 than any of my other handguns. I also shoot it better if I black out the sights. The only problem I had, was when I cleaned off the black-out on the rear sight, the white came off, but it would be the last gun that I would sell, so it's not a big issue with me, even though it looses some resale value.

  8. #7
    Distinguished Member Array LanceORYGUN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redrick View Post
    Sorry to hear. I am not not trying to make you feel bad, but I am more accurate with my 686 than any of my other handguns. I also shoot it better if I black out the sights.
    Well, something definitely affected the red plastic insert in the front sight's ramp. The only thing that I can think of is that the person that did the polish job on the gun must have done something to made it fade in color so very badly.

    Does your 686 have the factory S&W wooden target grip? I am hardest pressed in figuring out why it is shooting so badly to the left.

    .

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    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    Low & Left, means you are jerking the trigger when you shoot.... since it's a new gun to you, I"m betting is it may be more you that than the gun. It's normally good to have at least 2 other people, accustomed to revolvers, to shoot the gun as well and see if they have the same issue of low / left.

    Many revolvers have black rear and front sites, so if you are shooting in an indoor range, it can be hard to get a site picture. Normal ! ! I enchance my "picture" by painting the back end of my front site with a light site paint.... and it makes it very easy to find in darker light conditions (range, at night, etc). I never use a color that will blend with anything naturally out there.... white, green, blue , red, etc.

    If you are newer to revolvers, it would only add to the issues.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LanceORYGUN View Post
    Well, something definitely affected the red plastic insert in the front sight's ramp. The only thing that I can think of is that the person that did the polish job on the gun must have done something to made it fade in color so very badly.

    Does your 686 have the factory S&W wooden target grip? I am hardest pressed in figuring out why it is shooting so badly to the left.

    .
    I use a houge mono grip. Not as purdy but works 100 times better.
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    VIP Member Array MNBurl's Avatar
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    Check the crown on the end of the barrel for a nick. That can move the point of impact.
    Last edited by MNBurl; February 14th, 2011 at 09:06 PM.
    MNBurl

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  12. #11
    Distinguished Member Array LanceORYGUN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C hawk Glock View Post
    Sorry to hear about the issues with your 686. Mine is dead nuts accurate for sure. I will say that the red ramp can give me a little grief if I am shooting in low light situations. For example a range I go to quite a bit will have light bulbs go out in your stall. I have noticed my shooting goes down hill when that happens.

    By the way, how close where you to those 1 inch groups with that Sig?

    The problem is that the red ramp insert is no where even remotely close to being red any more. The color is so pale that it was hardly visible.

    As far as shooting with my P245, I was shooting poorly with it too. Nothing even remotely close. But at least it was shooting perfectly centered windage-wise, as it always has.

    Perhaps my shooting skills are going downhill with age.

    .

  13. #12
    Distinguished Member Array LanceORYGUN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eagleks View Post
    Low & Left, means you are jerking the trigger when you shoot....
    I don't think that could be the reason. This pistol has an extremely light single action pull. I was doing an accuracy test single action from a rested position to help sight it in. I barely had to squeeze the trigger to fire the gun.

    And I shot my Sig 45 afterwards, after putting quite a few rounds through the 357. And it was shooting just fine location-wise, almost perfectly dead on. I just could not get it to group worth anything at all.


    Quote Originally Posted by Eagleks View Post
    since it's a new gun to you, I"m betting is it may be more you that than the gun. It's normally good to have at least 2 other people, accustomed to revolvers, to shoot the gun as well and see if they have the same issue of low / left.
    That is a good suggestion. The grip did feel rather alien to me. I just could not feel comfortable holding it, for some reason. I am basically an automatic pistol shooter, and own only one other revolver, that I have very rarely shot.


    Quote Originally Posted by Eagleks View Post
    Many revolvers have black rear and front sites, so if you are shooting in an indoor range, it can be hard to get a site picture.
    No, it was at an outdoor range, with good lighting early in the afternoon. As I explained earlier, the front sight is extremely light, with hardly any color at all left in it. And contrasting that to the jet black rear sight was a nightmare for me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Eagleks View Post
    If you are newer to revolvers, it would only add to the issues.
    Well, I am no revolver virgin. But I am definitely an automatic pistol man. So that could well be part of my problem.

    .

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    I dunno Lance. Shooting poorly with both guns...one of which you usually shoot well with?? Hmmmmm. Before I did anything I'd try again on a fresh day. Shoot both again. Maybe it was just an off day and concerns could be for naught.

    Also thought of this...

    Now that I remember my first day with my 649 was a bit low and left as well. Damn tight with the Undercover 38 and decent with the Glock but the S&W was always low and left. Maybe it's a "new gun" expectation thing?? You know...new gun...expectations high...maybe not relaxing the same way?? Just a thought.

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    Sometimes ya just have to know when to pack up and go home.

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    You sure are right Glockman. Off days suck...but they do happen!

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