Lipsey’s Exclusive 357 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 686 Mountain Gun


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

June 15th, 2010




Click links below for video!

640x480 WMV format (31.1 MB)
320x240 WMV format (10.5 MB)

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.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity Group Size
Cor-Bon HC 200 1126 0.750"
Cor-Bon JHP 110 1510 1.875"
Cor-Bon PB 100 1672 2.400"
Cor-Bon JHP 140 1313 2.250"
Cor-Bon DPX 125 1378 2.625"
Cor-Bon SP 180 1222 2.000"
Cor-Bon JHP 125 1393 1.875"
Cor-Bon Glaser 80 1806 3.125"
Buffalo Bore JHP 125 1541 1.125"
Buffalo Bore JHP 170 1211 2.200"
Buffalo Bore JHP 158 1333 1.675"
Grizzly Cartridge HC 180 1221 2.125"
Handload Keith 173 1071 2.625"

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 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,, or

To order a Cannon Leather holster, go to


Jeff Quinn


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to:






Accuracy testing was done using a Ransom Master Series rest.



Cannon Leather holster.



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Click pictures for a larger version.


Lipsey’s Exclusive 357 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 686 Mountain Gun.





Top strap is drilled and tapped for scope mount.





The Mountain Gun has an internal lock, which can be used if desired to make the weapon inoperable without the key.



Hogue finger-groove synthetic rubber grip.





Sights are typical Smith & Wesson - in a word, excellent.