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Posted: 12/19/2005 7:40:02 AM EDT
Not certain where this post should be, could go any number of places(?).

Let me start by saying that my other guns are chambered in 9mm, .40cal and a couple of .22lr plinkers, so I'm looking for some education, and this seems to be the place for it.

I just acquired a Model 686+1 in stainless.
By all accounts, it's a great gun, BUT...
My wife has been running some .38spl through it because we were told .357 would probably be too hot for her, she's pretty slight.
What is the lightest readily available .38 rounds that would be OK for this gun so that we can both get maximum enjoyment from this weapon?

We have shot some wadcutter rounds at 148 grains, and some FMJ rounds at 138 grains, and (surprised me) the 148's were considerably softer shooting rounds...now I'm confused.

Any guidance would be appreciated, as I'm new to both the .357 and .38 rounds, I still haven't fired any .357 with it yet. In fact, I'm so ignorant, I was quite surprised that .357 and .38spl could be fired from the same pistol, which brings me to my next question: what, if any, is the difference between .38cal and .38spl? Can I fire .357 magnum rounds, or just .357, and what is the difference? Like I said, any input is appreciated while I wait for my replacement owner's manual.

Thanks in advance,
Tim
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 7:59:52 AM EDT
SW.38, .38,.38spl, and or +P, and .357 and or+P. all shoot on your Gun. The lighter the bullet the more blast when shooting non hand loaded ammo.

I wanted to help you understand the amunition bullet weight Vs recoil. Your ammo should stay consistent until your wife gets used to one type. then start experimenting. I recomend the white box winchester .38 spl from wally world. then upgrade to +p for one session, then go to .357.

What you want to do is get real used to shooting normal .38, one that is plain jane for you and your wife, and she can tag the 15yd target using the double action triggerpull everytime, then you are ready to try more power.

HAVE FUN ! Be Safe, and Let your wife load and reload all by herself after the first two cylinders. If they feel like they are responsible to do it they take it more seriously.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 2:02:45 PM EDT
To tell you the difference between .38spl and any other .38 round I'd need to know what suffix is behind it (i.e. short, +p, +p+, colt, etc.) The .38 caliber has seen use in many different handguns since the advent of cartridge weapons. Anything you buy at a big box store or sporting goods store will most likely be .38spl, .38spl+p, or .38spl+p+ which are all just variants of .38spl with different power charges. Since your gun is chambered for .357 there is little reason to chase down +p+ and pay the extra cost, and the only reason to get +p is to use it as a step up from .38 to help your wife become more accustomed to the recoil. If you want more power just use .357. Other .38 chamberings are much, much more uncommon and cowboy loads are the easiest of the factory loadings to obtain. These other chamberings are also more expensive than .38spl which was for a long time about the cheapest centerfire ammo you could buy.

As far as I know all .357 is considered "magnum." It is really just a lengthened .38spl case allowing a more powerful charge. This, like the .38spl, spent a lot of time in revolvers carried by police officers, so there has been a lot of load development. The benefit is that there are a lot of choices in loadings as well as bullet weights/types.

One thing to remember when switching from .38spl to .357 is that your zero will change. You may notice that your shots will group high if the weapon has been sighted in with .38spl.

Enjoy your gun. I've never owned a S&W revolver that I have been disappointed in.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 9:26:29 AM EDT
The reason I bought a 686 (I have the 7 shot "plus" model too) is so I CAN shoot all the .357 I want. THe model 66 is the one I hear you should limit the amount of full house stuff you shoot through it. I've never heard that about a 686.

I just bought mine a couple months ago and absolutely love it. NICE trigger. That gun really boasts quality.

Anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, as I'd like to know too. But I'd say shoot any of the .38's or .357's till the cows come home.

Gundraw
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 11:26:58 AM EDT
The 148 grain wadcutter round is a target shooting load. It can be made of hardcast lead or swagged soft lead. It is generally a very light target load that will shoot very accurately.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 3:05:15 PM EDT
enjoy your 357.smith and wesson 686 aint gonna ware out unless your shooting 180 gn hunting loads often and plenty.my model 19-3 and the model 66 k frams are the revolvers that can be worn out prematurly from excessive use of 125 gn 357 mags.but you know what,i still only shoot 357 out of my model 19 .i just shoot more of them threw my ruger gp 100.
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 5:21:16 PM EDT
My stainless 686 is one of my favorite revolvers. The biggest problem I have with it is that it is also my wife's favorite revolver. I agree with everyone telling you to get used to the gun by shooting 38 spcl. I would also advise you to try a couple of cylinders of 357mag just to see the difference. My wife used to flinch when she first shot 357s. She still like the 38s, but now that she is used to it, she shoots 357s as well as I do. Enjoy the gun, you have made an excellant choice in revolvers
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