S&W 627 vs 686 A Closer Look at Their Differences

S&W 627 vs 686: A Closer Look at Their Differences

A handheld firearm is a must-have for survivalists because it can be used for self-defense, home security, and hunting animals for food. The two main contenders for handheld revolvers include S&W 627 and 686.

The S&W 686 is an L frame (medium) gun, whereas the 637 is an N frame (large) gun. Both the S&W 627 and 686 have limited holster options and good single-action triggers. However, the S&W 627 is superior in terms of overall design, number of rounds, safety features, and functionality.

The main differences between the two include the number of rounds, trigger mechanism, overall design, safety features, and functionality.

Number Of Rounds

pistol on table
S&W 627 Pro

Most wheel guns have 6 round cylinders. The S&W 627 proved to be revolutionary when they first introduced guns with 8 rounds. This model is built on the company’s patented N-frame which is usually for 44 magnum revolvers. With this frame, the 627 can hold 8 rounds of 357 magnums. This also has an ejector rod that makes unloading and reloading smoother. The spent casings are smoothly ejected by a spring-loaded mechanism so that you can shoot continuously.

The S&W 686 was created in 1981, hence it has the older L-frame that .357 magnums sported back then. It has a 7-round capacity which is one more than the average revolver. The S&W 627 is better because with an N-frame it can hold 1 extra bullet more than the 686.

Winner: S&W 627


The S&W 627 has a unique trigger compared to other revolvers in the market. The trigger is a single-action squeeze with a very consistent and smooth performance. You can shoot smoothly and still maintain accuracy in your shots because you won’t have to struggle with pulling the trigger. That’s an upgrade from the typical double-action trigger from other revolvers which are challenging to pull.

The traction is reduced in the 627 and a lot of users report that it feels like a custom, high-end aftermarket kit. It’s so light but it still feels secure. The 627 also has an enlarged hammer which makes it easy to cock-back gun.

The S&W 686 has the traditional double-action pull with 10 pounds of force. There’s also a single-action option that is only 4.3 pounds but the former is more common. The pull is smooth, consistent, and comfortable. You won’t experience any grit or stacking because of the crisp break.

Win: Draw

Overall Design

dark wooden table gun
S&W 686 357 Magnum

The S&W 627 has a 6-inch barrel that is just the right size to keep this gun portable. The overall length of the gun is 9.8 inches. The tip of the barrel has a beveled design underneath which makes it look distinct. This gun also has rubber grip to ensure the comfort of the user. The grip also soften the recoil of the gun. The finger grooves are ergonomically designed to make one’s grip sturdier.

This gun has a hi-viz orange insert in the front sight. This feature makes it easy for the user to see and to lock aim at specific targets. There is also a rear sight that can be adjusted to your preferences. When properly tuned, you’d have no problems with hitting a target at 10 yards away.

The S&W 686 has a 4.125-inch barrel which makes it more portable than the 627. The overall length is 9.56 inches with a factory front blade at the tip. This is slim and light enough to be portable and weighs around 39 ounces. The rear sight is also adjustable for more accurate shots. You can hit the bull’s eye from 15 yards away for as long as you take your time to calibrate and aim.

Another main difference is the absence of finger contours on the grip of the 686. This can affect the comfort levels of the user. The flashy design also makes this unfit for hunting because you might attract unwarranted attention.

Winner: S&W 627

Safety Features

Both models of the gun that were produced after 2001 will have the trademark Smith & Wesson safety feature which is a built-in internal lock. You can activate the lock through a small keyhole near the cylinder release. When the lock is activated, the trigger can’t be pulled and the cylinder can’t be opened. This is good if there are kids around so that they don’t accidentally fire the gun if they happen to get their hands on it.

However, Smith & Wesson guns before 2001 are still being bought and sold, but will not have this safety feature.

Winner: S&W 627


revolver gun
S&W 686 357 Magnum

The S&W 627 is straightforward. It’s a point-and-shoot gun that is excellent for home defense and safety. This is also great for hunting wild game. It’s becoming more popular to use a handgun for hunting instead of the average rifle. However, it’s a bit too big for concealed carrying.

The S&W 686 has unique features that boost its functionality. It has a top strap and a forcing cone which were designed to mitigate the recoil and to increase the accuracy of shots. However, the strap makes the balance off as the gun feels heavier at the front. This may affect the user’s response to the strong recoil.

Winner: S&W 627

Holster Options

The holster range is important because it dictates the portability of the gun. There’s a limited selection of holsters for the S&W 627. The best solution is to have one custom-made but that is quite costly, with the price reaching up to $200 or more. The same can be said for the S&W 686.

Winner: Draw

Final Thoughts 

The S&W 627 is the better gun for overall use, from self-defense to hunting. It has more rounds which means fewer reloads. Moreover, it also has a better trigger that feels smoother and lighter. The longer barrel is just the right size to keep it portable and to guide your aim with the front and rear sight. The S&W 627 also has a better overall design and safety features. It feels more balanced and it has a safety lock compared to the imbalanced feel of S&W 686. Both of these guns have very limited holster options and users often need to resort to custom-made ones that cost at least $200. To maximize the options available, consider looking into the S&W 66 model as well. 

Chris Green

Chris has always had an adventurous soul, and his love for the outdoors eventually led him to become a professional life skills advisor. He explains a multitude of different topics ranging from disaster preparedness and wilderness survival to self-sufficiency.

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