Remembering the S&W 686 Classic Hunter

Years ago when guns were a lot cheaper and I had a lot less gray I bought a Smith & Wesson 686 Classic Hunter. I was living in the small town of Franklin, New Hampshire at the time and purchased it from a tiny gun shop in town. I believe I paid $280 for it. Man, those were the days.

If unfamiliar the 686 Classic Hunter is a .357 Magnum revolver with a 6″ barrel. The cylinder is unfluted and grips are fully wrapped Hogue. Fully adjustable sights gave an excellent sight picture and the single action trigger was…well…..a hair trigger. Pulling double action was silky smooth but the single action was just incredible.

I spent many a days in the New Hampshire woods carrying the .357 Classic Hunter. Incredibly accurate and revolver-reliable, I kept a couple of speed loaders on my belt or in my pocket. Often I would drive two miles down the road outside my apartment to the “sand pits” where I would shoot. At around 75 yards I could make a one-gallon milk jug unhappy 3-4 out of 5 shots. The gun was always capable – sometimes I was not.


It is amazing the connection we can have with a gun. I have sold off more guns than I care to remember.  Many I wish I had kept. I do not remember why I sold it. I am sure I was hard up for money or had something else at the time I felt like I needed more. With age comes wisdom. The S&W 686 Classic Hunter is but one I wish I still had strapped to my belt. I have looked to replace it but it is out of my price range now.

Ghost guns from the past. I bet each of us have a few.



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  1. That 686 costs the same as (or less than) a good semi-auto when you consider the entire cost of the pistol AND the mandatory extra magazines…..

    • I do not disagree completely as there are many good semi-auto’s that can be purchased cheaper than the 686 however I am not sure what your point is?



    • Gotcha Ben – The 686 Classic Hunter often sells for $800 when you can find one. That is out of my price range for a pistol. A “good” semi-auto can be had for $450-$550. It is a great gun though – a current production 686 or the Classic Hunter. Maybe someday!


  2. I love reading about other types of handguns that everyone is using, their pros and cons … I have been so stuck on loving the 357, I tend think nothing else exists … lol

  3. Same here Mike – enjoy reading others gun stories and will share a few of mine. Bought a Ruger GP100 new in ’88 for about $300 while serving in the Navy and still have that gun in my vault today. Last year picked up a new Smith 627 Performance – 8 RD 357 and it’s a sweetheart but was very $$ at around $800. Had a chance to buy a used 686 4″ in superb condition from a retired guy for $350 a few years ago but passed. I regret it now.

    Guns missed? Sold a Ruger Mini14 folding stock and an M1 Carbine – both for about 250 ea to another Navy buddy 25 years ago. Big mistake. I have a couple of Minis now but sure wished I had that M1. It was nice, though don’t remember what make.

    Bought a new Winchester 94 – 30-30 in Kalifornia in late 80s as well as a 10-22. Both STOLEN from my storage when I was deployed overseas. Filed a police report with serial #s etc and still awaiting to this day.

  4. I kick my but when I think about the S&W model 19 with 4 inch barrel I traded years ago. Rourke, in the 80’s I lived in Milton, NH and in the 2000’s in Strafford,, NH. If memory serves me Franklin used to hold a pioneer day back then.

    • JohnP –

      Not sure about the Pioneer Day. The Franklin I was familiar with was a welfare town of about 3000 people. I was there from 89 thru 96.

      Beautiful country.


  5. I haven’t owned many guns, but I miss those that I sold. I had a Franchi SAS 12, it was a beautiful tactical shotgun, I loved it. It’s not imported anymore. Bought a new Colt Combat Commander, the stainless steel version with the wrap-around pebble grips. Still the most beautiful pistol I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t hit anything I aimed at so I sold it. Next came a Taurus PT92, best pistol I ever owned… I plan on getting another soon.

  6. My very first handgun was an Auto Ordnance M1911A1 .45 ACP. I purchased it for $300 as I left Fort Bragg, NC in August 1984. I went shooting with a friend about a year later. He had a Ruger Security-6 .357 Magnum with a 5 inch barrel. This was the single most accurate handgun I ever used. I offered to buy it from him after shooting 6 rounds. He declined. A month later, he called and asked me if I was still interested. I said “Sure”! I met him in front of the bank on Main Street on a busy Friday afternoon. He charged me $200.00 for the revolver and a foam lined case. I ran into him at a bar a few weeks later. Just testing the waters, I said, “Hey, I’m going to register that Ruger in my name tomorrow”. He replied “Maybe you better not”. I was furious, near the point of punching him in the face! I cursed him out. I asked him why he didn’t tell me it was “hot”. He said that he was not sure if it was stolen. He bought if from someone else. After that, I did not want the gun anymore. I traded it to a coworker for a Savage 24J .22LR/.20GA. For the rest of 1985, I looked at local gun shops to find the same model. I was not successful. I ended up buying a Smith & Wesson Model 19 with the same length barrel. It was NOT the same, nowhere near. I now believe that the Ruger had been modified by a gunsmith. Since I joined the “Prepper” community, I searched for the Ruger online. I found one with a 2.5 inch barrel in SEP 11, so I bought it right away. I did see the identical gun once. “My Little Girl”, a soldier I sort of adopted when her real father died, received the exact revolver as part of her dad’s estate. At the time, I couldn’t ask her to sell it. I’m going to drive 200 miles to visit with her tomorrow. I may just see if she is willing to part with it. Your story has me thinking about it, Rourke.

  7. GP100 is fantastic … I love my .22 also .. fun one to shoot … also love the Mossberg 500 series of shotguns

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