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Thinking of buying a 686 for carry. Does it come in a 2.5" or 3" barrel choice? If both available which would be better for concealed carry?
 

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The 3-inch realistically conceals about as well as the 2 1/2-inch does and the 3-inch has the advantage of a full-length ejector rod which will completely extract fired cases from the chambers. The fired cases won't clear the cylinder because the ejector rod is short on the 2-inch or 2 1/2-inch revolvers. Smartly rapping the end of the 2 1/2-inch ejector rod usually facilitates complete ejection but occasionally a stubborn case may cause ejection troubles. An emergency is not the time to be picking cases out of chambers.
 

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Great gun either will do a good job. I carry snubs everyday and love them. Cant beat the trigger or dependability. You dont have to shoot 300.00 of defensive ammo just to make sure they will go bang. I carry a SP 2.4 or a S&W Mod 60 the casings come out fine for .38+P's but the longer 357 can take a tap as long as your gun is relatively clean they come out pretty easy the more you practice the faster you get. I carry tuff strips an only reload from them at the range you get pretty fast.
 

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I owned a 686+ with 2 1/2" Bbl. I always thought a 3" or 4" would be nicer because the 2 and a half was strangely unbalanced with the fat cylinder holding 7 rounds. I also think 3" barreled K and L frames look like very serious weapons.
 

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2.5 vs. 3.0 inch barrel

Both the 2.5 inch and the 3.0 inch 686 revolvers are available, but I think the 2.5 inch version is more commonly found for sale. I don't think S&W has made as many of the 3.0 inch. The 3 inch also tend to be newer, and more likely to have the internal lock, which some find to be objectionable.

I have the 2.5 inch version in a pre-lock gun, but also have the similar model 66 in a 3 inch gun. I can't see much difference in the function or feel of the 2 barrel lengths - half an inch isn't much of a variable. There is the ejector rod length consideration mentioned above, but that seems like a small factor to me. So I would probably get whichever one I found available first at the right price and condition. My 2.5 inch 686 is shown below:

 

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I came on my job with a 686. At the time I bought it cause the then new Ruger GPs couldnt be found in the gun stores. Ive never regretted the decision ; The 686 has been with me thru some scarey times. I often miss its weight at my side but 3 more .45s are imposable to ignore. I'd buy another 686 in a heart beat and were I allowed to carry .357/125s I would still be carrying it. Ive seen the 158+P LHP in action. Its a fine performing load if you dont want to load the magnums.
 

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I have a 686+ 2.5" and it conceals well. I had to try a lot of holsters to find one that fit me.I did find that a sp101 holster fit the gun well but it carried too high on the belt. I went with an Uncle Mikes and modified it to fit the gun. It's in the rotation when I find a nice IWB/OWB I'll carry it more. I have no problem clearing spent shells but I do give the rod a nice tap to clear them.Great gun, low recoil on the .357's but the muzzle flash is pretty "bright" with them.
My wife likes it because she can control the .357's better with it than the LCR [doh!]
 

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The 686 is available in both barrel lengths. Barrel length really isn't going to make a difference in concealability since it will be inside the holster and the grip will be the same size. The only real difference will be in weight 3" barrel is about 2 oz heavier than th 2 1/2" barrel.

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Hey Once,

Try buffalo bore they have low flash small barrel .357. And .38+P's work really well use them for all carry guns.
 

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Either one will be a good choice. I have a 2.5 inch pre-lock. Both handguns are pretty hefty, but that heft also tames the recoil with heavy loads. Mcgilvray is right about the ejector rod length, but I have never had a problem with ejecting cases when I hit the end of the rod with the heel of my hand. My 686 is plenty accurate and I don't think a half inch of sight radius would make any difference. Were I buying again, I would buy used and let price, lock/pre-lock and condition determine my choice.
 

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The 3" would be my preference. I had a 2 1/2 and it was a great gun, I won 3rd place at the duty gun match during the Texas State PPC championships shooting against 4" revolvers so they are plenty accurate.
 

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I owned a 686+ with 2 1/2" Bbl. I always thought a 3" or 4" would be nicer because the 2 and a half was strangely unbalanced with the fat cylinder holding 7 rounds. I also think 3" barreled K and L frames look like very serious weapons.
I don't think "unbalanced" is quite the word but I do know what you mean. Frankly, I think I could live without that 7th round. That being said, I would have bought the 3" version had it been available to me at the time but I have the 2.5" one instead and have been happy enough. The 3" vs 2.5" barrel length really isn't an issue for concealability. The full length ejector rod is a good argument in favor of the 3" 686+.
 

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The 3-inch realistically conceals about as well as the 2 1/2-inch does and the 3-inch has the advantage of a full-length ejector rod which will completely extract fired cases from the chambers. The fired cases won't clear the cylinder because the ejector rod is short on the 2-inch or 2 1/2-inch revolvers. Smartly rapping the end of the 2 1/2-inch ejector rod usually facilitates complete ejection but occasionally a stubborn case may cause ejection troubles. An emergency is not the time to be picking cases out of chambers.
Agreed....the advice that Bmcgilvray is sound and worth taking to heart. The M686 is a classic wheelgun that will serve you well for years. I know of officers that carried them for years before being forced to switch to semi-autos. Lots of power in a packable package that offers versitility in ammo selection.
 

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My first handgun was 686 plus 3" and its still my favorite. For OWB, look at the enhanced pancake holsters from Lobo Leather. I have one with a thumbreak. An L frame with 135 gr goldots......no better feeling in the world!
 
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