The Mountain Gun
series of revolvers from Smith & Wesson are some of my
favorite double-action revolvers of all time. These revolvers,
built mostly on S&W’s large N-Frame, are built to be
carried. They are made to be packing guns, with light, slim
barrels, but still have fully adjustable sights and smooth
actions for use afield as hunting guns or for protection from
large animals and unsavory humans while out in the backwoods.
These revolvers have also become the guns of choice for many who
carry concealed and prefer a big bore revolver over a semi-auto
for personal protection.
Back in 1998, S&W produced some 357
Magnum Mountain Guns, built on the medium-sized L-frame with
seven-shot cylinders. These revolvers proved to be popular, but
as it was a limited run of weapons, they are now very hard to
find. Smith & Wesson is now making another run of 686
Mountain Guns exclusively for Lipsey’s. Lipsey’s is a large
firearms wholesaler located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and often
has special runs of firearms made up exclusively for them for
sale to gun dealers nationwide. Anyway, this newest S&W
Mountain Gun is chambered for the 357 Magnum cartridge, and it
also fires any 38 Special load as well. Designated the 686-6,
this 357 Magnum has all of the updated L-frame features that
have been added over the last couple of decades, such as the
internal key lock and frame drilled for a scope mount under the
adjustable rear sight. This latest version of the Mountain Gun
has a six-shot cylinder, differentiating it from the earlier
version. The weapon is made primarily of stainless steel that
wears a satin finish. The hammer and trigger are case-hardened,
and the sights are blued steel. The black synthetic rubber Hogue
finger groove grip contrasts nicely with the stainless finish,
and feels just about perfect in my hand. The grip extends below
the round-butt frame, and offers a very good hold with excellent
control of the weapon while firing magnum loads. The
double-action trigger pull is typical Smith & Wesson smooth,
and measures just over eight and one-quarter pounds on my Lyman
digital scale. The single-action pull is perfectly crisp, and
releases with four pounds of pressure on the test gun. The
cylinder lines up well, and has very little side play and no
detectible end play at all. The barrel/cylinder gap measures
five one-thousandths (.005) inch on the test gun. The barrel is
slim and tapered, and measures 4.12 inches in length. The 686-6
weighs in at 35.5 ounces on my scale.
The 357 Mountain Gun feels like no other
L-frame S&W. With its slim barrel, it feels more like a
K-frame Model 19 or 66 from years past. It carries on the hip
very well. I have been carrying this piece in a Cannon
Leather holster for the past couple of weeks, and it rides
there unobtrusively and barely noticed.
For accuracy and function testing, I tried
every type of 357 Magnum factory ammunition that I had available
to me in the S&W Mountain Gun. The ammo consisted mostly of
high performance ammunition, along with one of my favorite cast
bullet handloads that I use as a plinking and general purpose
load. This moderate handload uses the excellent Mt.
Baldy 173 grain plain base Keith semi-wadcutter bullet with
six grains of Hodgdon Titegroup powder. The accuracy of the
Mountain Gun was tested using my Ransom
Master Series machine rest. The chronograph and accuracy
results are listed in the chart below. JHP is a jacketed
hollowpoint bullet. SP is a jacketed soft point bullet. DPX is a
homogenous copper hollow nose bullet made by Barnes Bullet
Company, and loaded by Cor-Bon. Glaser is a specialty jacketed
bullet with a compressed pre-fragmented core. PB is Cor-Bon
Pow’RBall. HC is a hard-cast lead bullet. Keith is the
aforementioned semi-wadcutter cast lead bullet. Velocities were
recorded at a distance of twelve feet from the muzzle, and are
listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in
grains. Accuracy results listed are the average of the five-shot
groups fired at a distance of twenty-five yards, listed
center-to-center of the widest apart bullet holes in each group.
Group sizes are listed in inches. Testing was done on a calm day
with an air temperature in the ninety-two degree Fahrenheit
range, at an elevation of approximately 541 feet above sea
level, and relative humidity of eighty-two percent.
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|Grizzly Cartridge HC
I was very pleased with the accuracy of the
ammo tested, especially the Cor-Bon 200 grain cast lead bullet
load, which would average around three-quarters of an inch,
repeatedly. The group shown in the picture had three shots
almost in the same exact hole, but accuracy was superb with this
load with every group fired. I kept shooting it until I had
completely depleted my stock of this ammo. This is also the same
load that I fired to demonstrate the controllability of the
weapon in the video. While it is a powerful 357 magnum load, and
would work well for hunting game, it is also very easy to
control in the Mountain Gun. I was amazed at how well this load
shot from both this S&W and the Lipsey's
exclusive Ruger GP-100 that I tested a few weeks ago.
Reliability was perfect, with no failures to
fire at all, Extraction was smooth, and only a bit sticky with
the hottest loads, but still positive, and the empties ejected
fully with a stroke of the ejector rod.
The 686-6 is a welcome addition to the
excellent line of Mountain Guns from Smith & Wesson, and is
available exclusively from your authorized Lipsey’s dealer.
For the location of a Lipsey’s dealer near you, click on the
DEALER LOCATOR at www.lipseys.com.
If you want one, production is limited to 250 guns, so you
better order fast.
To order any of the high performance
ammunition shown here, go to www.cor-bon.com,
To order a Cannon Leather holster, go to www.cannonleather.com.