The Smith & Wesson Model 41 5.5" has earned the following ratings for concealability, firepower, and overall suitability for concealed carry by persons with a valid CCW permit.
The Smith & Wesson Model 686, is a six or seven shot double action revolver chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge. It will chamber and fire .38 Special cartridges, as the .357 Magnum was developed from the .38 Special. The magnum case is slightly longer to prevent magnum rounds from being chambered and fired in handguns chambered for the .38 Special. The 686 has been available with 2-1/2 in. (64 mm); 3 in.(76mm); 4 in. (102 mm); 5 in. (127 mm); 6 in. (153 mm); and 8-3/8" in. (214 mm) barrel lengths as standard models and other barrel lengths either by special order from S & W's Performance Center custom shop, or acquired from or built by after-market gunsmiths. The Performance Center made a limited number of 686 in .38 Super for competitive shooters.
Photo of a Smith&Wesson 686 .38 Special, taken with an ultra high speed flash.
Smith & Wesson introduced the Model 686 in 1980. It is the stainless steel version of the 586, which was a blued steel finish. It was chambered for .357 Magnum and .38 S&W Special +P calibers. They are available ported and unported with a choice of 6 or 7 round cylinders.
The Model 686 is based on S & W's L (medium-large) revolver frame. During the 1980s, Smith & Wesson developed its L-Frame line of .357 Magnums: the Model 581, Model 586, Model 681 and Model 686.
Through the years, there have been several variations on the Model 686. The Model 686 Classic Hunter was introduced in 1988 and has a 6-inch barrel and an unfluted cylinder; the Model 686 Black Stainless was introduced in 1989 and has either a 4 or 6 inch barrel with a black finish, with production limited to 5000; the Model 686 National Security Special was introduced in 1992 and has a 3- or 4-inch barrel; the Model 686 Target Champion was introduced in 1992 and has a 6-inch match barrel, adjustable trigger stop, and walnut grips; the Model 686 Power Port was introduced in 1994 and has a ported 6-inch barrel; the Model 686 Plus was introduced in 1996 and has a 2.5-inch, 3 inch, 4-inch, or 6-inch barrel, adjustable sights, 7-shot cylinder, and Hogue rubber grips. As with all current Smith and Wesson revolvers, the 686 Plus now has a key lock integral to the frame of the gun.