Top 6 Smith and Wesson 686 Problems And How To Fix Them

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Hey there, If you’re reading this, you’re probably a Smith and Wesson 686 fan, just like me. Let me tell you, I’ve spent a good chunk of time testing this bad boy in various conditions. 

I’ve been to the range, been on hunts, and even carried it for self-defense. And guess what? While it’s a fantastic piece of hardware, it’s not without its own set of problems.

So, here’s what I’ve stumbled upon. I’ve faced issues like jamming, a dodgy spring, carry-up failure, a finicky trigger lock, timing issues, and even cylinder problems. 

Now, don’t let that scare you off; every piece of machinery has downsides. But lucky for you, I’ve dug deep and found some nifty solutions to these Smith and Wesson 686 Problems.

Overview of Smith and Wesson 686 Problems & Fixes

ProblemsQuick Fixes
Jamming IssueClean around star ejector; maintain cleanliness.
Spring ProblemPeen the star’s teeth lightly to improve lock-up.
Carry Up FailureReplace sear and sear spring or send to S&W.
Trigger LockManually unlock or remove the internal locking mechanism.
Timing IssueReplace worn-out hand with a larger one.
Cylinder IssueTighten the extractor rod; repeatedly open and close the cylinder.

Problems & Fixes for the Smith and Wesson 686

1. Jamming Issue

So, let’s dive into the first problem I came across jamming. You pull the trigger, expecting that satisfying bang, but nothing happens. Frustrating, right? Now, don’t jump to conclusions; the revolver itself is quite solid. 

But in my hands-on time with the 686, I noticed that jamming happened more often than I’d like. After a bit of detective work, I traced the problem to unburned powder under the star ejector. 

Also, a dirty gun is just asking for trouble, and yeah, it can jam on you.


I know cleaning your gun isn’t the most exciting task, but it does wonders. I first checked for unburned powder around the star ejector and got rid of it. No special tools are required, just some basic cleaning gear. 

After that, I gave the entire gun a thorough cleaning. Trust me, a clean gun is a happy gun. One more thing: when you’re removing spent casings, make sure to keep the barrel pointed upwards. 

It’s simple, but it helps minimize the jamming issue. And yep, I tested this out several times; it does the trick.

2. Spring Problem

Okay, so another issue I faced was the cylinder falling short of locking in for the next round, aka failure to carry up. 

And guess what? This can happen even when you’ve got brass in the charge slots. This issue turned out to be a real pain during an extended shooting session. 

After a bit of digging, I figured the culprit was often the teeth on the extractor star. It’s not just about the star being dirty; sometimes, those teeth need a little extra attention.


So, what’s the fix? The procedure is called “peening,” specifically on the flat surfaces of the star’s teeth. Now, it sounds more complex than it is, but you’ve got to be careful. 

Overdoing it can lead to a whole new set of problems, like the bolt popping out of the cylinder notch. I took my time and gently peened the teeth on the extractor star. The result? My cylinder started locking into place just like it’s supposed to. 

The key takeaway here is moderation. Don’t go ham on it; you’ll solve the issue without creating new ones.

3. Carry Up Failure

Alright, here’s another headache I’ve had with the Smith and Wesson 686: carry-up failure. In plain terms, sometimes the cylinder just won’t rotate when you pull the trigger. At other times, the cylinder does rotate, but the hammer decides it’s on a break. 

Super annoying! You don’t want to shrug off this problem, especially if it happens every five or six rounds. When it gets that frequent, you know you’ve got a real issue on your hands. And yes, in my time using the 686, I’ve experienced this. 

It really ruins the rhythm of your shooting session.


So, what did I do? I dug into the guts of the revolver. The usual suspects are the sear and the sear spring. Replacing them usually sorts the issue out. Now, I couldn’t find these parts easily; they’re kind of rare. 

But the replacement is straightforward if you manage to get your hands on them. If you’re like me and can’t find them, the best action is to send the gun back to Smith and Wesson for repairs. 

I did that, and guess what? Problem solved. So, don’t hesitate to get professional help when you’re in a bind; it’s worth it.

4. Trigger Lock Problem

So, here’s an issue that, while rare, you don’t want to face, especially in a high-stakes situation: the trigger and hammer lock engaging all by themselves. 

Yeah, you heard that right. It happened to me during one of my practice sessions. I was ready to pull the trigger, and—nothing. It wouldn’t budge. 

The internal lock had engaged without me doing anything. Talk about a bad time for a malfunction, right?


Now, before you panic, there’s a way to fix this. First off, you can try unlocking it the usual way. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to get a bit more hands-on. 

Take off the side locking plate. Once you’ve done that, you can manually unlock the mechanism. I followed this procedure, and it did the trick. 

But if you want to avoid the hassle altogether, you can go ahead and remove the whole internal locking mechanism. It’s a bit more work, but hey, it ensures that you won’t have to deal with an unintentional lock-up again.

5. Problem with the Timing

So, I’ve clocked in over a couple of thousand rounds with my Smith & Wesson 686, and I started facing this timing issue. When I pulled the hammer back, it got cocked even before the cylinder locked into its proper position. 

It’s not a situation you want to be in, trust me. This got me puzzled and worried. I had to manually adjust the cylinder to lock it in. On closer inspection, it was clear that the hand and the slot showed wear and tear, affecting the cylinder’s full rotation.


Alright, let’s get down to business. The fix involves replacing the worn-out hand with a larger one. First, you’ve got to disassemble that revolver and take out the stock hand. 

Then, grab a punch and a tension spring and fit the new hand into that slot. Make sure you pull the trigger a few times to check if the hand is doing its job right. If it does, you’re golden! If not, you might need to file down the new hand to get it in shape. 

After reassembling, I did notice a huge improvement in timing. Good as new, I’d say!

6. Cylinder Issue

One day, I was out in the field and suddenly found myself struggling to shut the cylinder of my Smith & Wesson 686. It was completely unexpected and downright annoying. 

The cylinder just wouldn’t close! Digging a little deeper, I discovered that a loose extractor rod was causing this headache. I also noticed that my cylinder system needed some breaking in. 

The yoke seemed to move forward a bit due to the spring-loaded plunger tip. So, even though it felt like a simple task, closing the cylinder became a chore.


Firstly, give that extractor rod a thorough check. You might not even think it’s loose, but tightening it up can make a world of difference. 

Fire a couple of rounds after that. If you still find the cylinder acting stubborn, it’s time for some good old opening and closing exercise. 

Go through this motion repeatedly until the cylinder shuts smoothly. I followed these steps, and guess what? My cylinder started closing like a charm. It’s really that simple, folks.

Final Verdict

Alright, folks, here’s the lowdown. The Smith and Wesson 686 is a stellar piece of hardware, no doubt about it. Its versatility and reliability make it a go-to for many gun enthusiasts like myself. 

But hey, no gun’s perfect, and the 686 is no exception. I ran into issues like jamming, spring problems, and cylinder drama, but they’re far from deal-breakers. 

Most of these glitches are fixable with a little TLC and maybe a smidgen of mechanical savvy. And if you can’t sort it out yourself, Smith and Wesson’s customer service is there to help. 

So, it boils down to this: understand your 686, give it the care it deserves, and this wheel gun will serve you well for years to come.


What’s the difference between 686 and 686 plus?

The 686 has a six-shot cylinder and 4″ barrel, while the 686 Plus has a seven-shot cylinder and 5″ barrel.

Can a 686 shoot 38 special?

Yes, the S&W 686 can chamber and fire .38 Special cartridges.

Can you conceal carry S&W 686?

Yes, the S&W 686 is considered a viable option for concealed carry.

Does Smith and Wesson make good revolvers?

Yes, well-balanced between concealability and shootability since their K-frame .38 M&P in 1899.

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I'm Micheal, an avid shooter and hunting enthusiast from Texas. I'm a recreational shooter who loves to spend time at the range and enjoy learning about new firearms and gears. I love to write about guns and share my passion for shooting with others.

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