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Smith & Wesson 586 & 686

By B.B. Pelletier

The June 15th post was titled Shoot in style with Gamo’s wheelgun. I compared the Gamo R-77 revolver to the Smith & Wesson 586-6, but at the end I waffled and said the S&W was an all-metal gun, so the comparison wasn’t fair. Today, I’d like to look at the airgun that sets the standard for revolvers.

They don’t come any better than S&W!
Smith & Wesson is a leader among revolver makers. Their 586/686 .357 Magnum revolvers are a clear statement of why that title is deserved. So, when Umarex decided to make a CO2 revolver, they were wise to choose this one.

I was very skeptical that Umarex could achieve as good a feel as an S&W firearm, but I’m darned if they didn’t! The airgun weighs almost exactly the same as the firearm, and the grips are rubber – the kind you have to buy as an option on the firearm!

The airgun’s cylinder swings out to the left side on a crane, but it also detaches from the gun. It holds ten .177 pellets and can easily be replaced with a full cylinder for faster reloading. Extra cylinders are available in packs of three, though they are only available in black, and nickel revolvers have to use them, too.

Super accuracy!
I think the big story is the super accuracy you can get with the CO2 revolver. I found it more accurate than any other Umarex pistols, by a wide margin. At 33 feet, I was able to hold groups under one inch, and the best I can do with any other Umarex pistol is an inch and a half.

The rear sight is adjustable in both directions, so you can zero your pistol for exactly where you want to hit. And, the trigger is a real surprise, being pretty close to the trigger on the firearm! Double-action is lighter than the firearm, and single-action is close but not quite as crisp.

The Powerlet is housed inside the grip without making it too fat. You’ll be surprised to find these grips are thinner than the ones on the firearm. I like that because my hands are on the small side, and these rubber grips fit just fine.

Quality costs money
If there is a downside to the gun, it’s the price. Quality doesn’t come cheap, and I’ve seen these same airguns selling for over $225 in gun stores, so the prices you see here are very reasonable. The ability to change barrels is one of the greatest features, but I always opt for the 6″ barrel as a starting point.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

87 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson 586 & 686”

  1. The S&W sounds like a great gun to practice shooting at airborn targets with. When i lived in wide open spaces i used cartridge pistols to shoot at cans or dirt clods tossed into the air. Later i had to change to air pistols. Paper targets bore me fast. I need to see my targets react.

  2. Denny,

    It SURE IS! If Ed McGivern were alive today, I bet he’d be practicing with one. In fact, I have often though that the S&W airgun is a cheap way to get some great double-action practice.

    These days, there are reactive targets like Daisy’s Shatterblast disks that will give you the same kind of thrill you mention. Not as cheap as dirt clods, but the holders they sit on can be stuck in the ground for safe shooting.


  3. damon,

    No. All S&W 586 and 686 revolvers have a lever that snaps shut, piercing the powerlet inside the grip. That’s why you can’t see anything hanging down under the grip. The lever has a small thumbnail slot (like a battery cover) to open it when the gas is gone. There is a thumbwheel adjustment for this lever that’s hidden inside the grip. All you see from the outside is a clean Hogue-like rubber grip.


  4. damon?

    I think the S&W is worth the extra money. But I also think the Crosman 357 is a wonderful gun for the price, and you’ve read what many owners think.

    I like the S&W for a better trigger, heavier weight, all-metal construction and better accuracy. I find it the most accuraqte of all the air pistols Umarex makes.


  5. damon,

    The steel barrel certainly is. Nnd I’m sure any other steel parts that are in the gun are spec-ed to the appropriate levels for the tasks they do. But if you are referring to the frame of the gun, it’s made of spelter or pot metal.


  6. B.B.

    Smith & Wesson 586 6 or
    BERETTA FS92? Having a hard time choosing them. Any suggestion will be great.

    Also what kind of pellets you recommand for both?

    Thanks alot. John

  7. John,

    I would definitely say the S&W. It’s quite a bit more accurate than any of the pistols that look like semiautomatics.

    I’m sure the Beretta 92FS is just as nice as all the other Umarex pistols I have tested, but the action on the S&W is different. It has a MUCH better double action pull and a nearly flawless single action pull. Just a hint of creep in single action. Please read my post on the S&W.

    As far as pellets go, I tend to favor Gamo Match. I like the price and they are accurate.


  8. charles in england !
    the best way to increase the power / pellet speed / wich will allow a much heaver pellet to be used wich in turn will incerase the accuracy of the smith and wesson 586 ,,i have done it !!
    first you must restrict the amount of co2 thats escaping between the back end of the barrel and revolving cylinder and the the other side of the cylinder ,,if you hold the gun up to the light looking sideways on you will see the gaps ,,better sill load it with a pellet hold your hand over the top of the cylinder then fire the gun ,,you can feel the pressure escape ,,,now to me that should be behind the pellet ,theres more to do ,,,but i have to go out so will finish this later charles

  9. I recently purchased an S&W 586-6 air pistol. When I removed my new air pistol from its original box I noticed that the entire finish of the gun was cloudy and was dull in color. It appears that the plastic bag in which it was stored reacted chemically with oil and the guns finish. Note – before I returned the gun for replacement I cleaned the gun with alcohol. Then I applied a product called F21 from Turtle Wax. (Vinyl restorer/protectorate) With one application the original finish was 90% restored. With a second application the finish was 100%. Each application involved spaying the product on a paper towel – wiping the product on the gun avoiding the grip panels. Wait 10 minuets – wipe off. I believe that this type of product could be used to keep your new S&W like new.

  10. hi there! i was just wondering if the S&W is a good fire arm to have around the house for protection…i have 3 kids and a bad neighborhood so plz leave a cooment back thanks


  11. hello there i have a smith % wesson bb gun, model 6906 and im goin 2 try explain this now, well the actually mechism inside the gun wich is air tight wich produes the air that alows the bb 2 b shot at sum great speed, well the mechanism has broken and ive had the gun years now and have always wanted it fixing, so if any1 has or knows how i can get this fixed can you please get in conact with me, and if you are still puzzled i will send you sum pictures, my email is james_frost_1985@hotmail.com and would really love 4 sum1 2 help me with this, many thanks james

  12. Hi,
    For this S&W, is there any laser/red dot sight that can be mounted under the barrel? (not on the top, since I also want the stock front & rear sights available)
    Thank you

  13. DN,

    A red dot sight is never mounted under the barrel. You have to be able to see the dot to use the sight.

    I’m not aware of any laser for the 586. I’m sure a gunsmith could mount almost anything for you, and I recommend you get the smallest laser you can find that has good quality. The gun will have to be altered of course.


  14. Chuck:
    The guy who was talking about wastage but trailed off 🙁

    Please finish what you were saying! I really want to know where you are going with this.

    If not can B.B comment on any ways to safely increase the power of my S&W??

  15. I have question about co2 revovlers. Is there some special technique to shooting them? I picked up a crossman 3576W the other day and when I got to shooting it I couldn’t get groups under 4 inches at 25 feet and I can easily put five shoots on a quarter at this distance with my 1377. Am I expecting too much from the gun or is there something Im missing.

  16. On avg. how long do you think the SMITH & WESSON 686-6 will last without repairs and how could I make it last longer? And last would you recomend it because the company is going out of bulliness if so would you choose the SMITH & WESSON 686-6 or the SMITH & WESSON 586-8?

  17. For me a Smith & Wesson 586 would last at least 20 years, but more likely 40. That is essentially a lifetime.

    I oil all my powerlets with Pellgunoil and I don’t abuse my guns.

    For someone who wanted to “see how it works,” I’d give it about two weeks.

    Who is going out of business? The model is being discontinued, but nobody of going out of business.

    I choose the 586 because I prefer blued guns over nickel or stainless.


  18. BB.

    Which would you consider the best and most apropiate barrel length for informal target shooting and plinking?, What are the main differences (non-esthetic) beetween a S&W 586 and a Wlther Cp88?, and which one yould you choose for the same purpose?
    Also, is there a way to mount a dot sight on the S&W or the CP88, if so, what do i need? and finally, what dot sight would you recomend if im mainly intersted in the highest quality and reliability?


  19. Lars,

    The six-inch barrel has always handled best, but the eight-inch is the most accurate.

    As for dot sights, I don’t know of any easy way to mount one on this gun.

    A CP88 can be nearly as accurate, and of course they do accept dot sights, of which I think the Walther sight is best.

    I don’t use optical sights on handguns, so my choice for plinking would be the 586. However, I don’t currently own one and I do own a CP88.


  20. Larts,

    The CP88 sights are adjujstable for windage only.

    Long barrels are not more accurate than short barrels. What makes the gun they are mounted on more accurate is the greater separation of the front and rear sights. That allows for greater sighting precision.

    So the question is, how much more accurate will YOU be when shooting a handgun with a longer barrel? The answwer will be a very small amount – perhaps 1/8″ at 10 meters for an 8-inch vs a 6-inch, and 1/2″ for an 8-inch vs a 4-inch.


  21. From the owner of a Gamo “wheel gun”…

    I have the R-77 6″ Classic with the walnut grips. While it is a great gun (especially for the price), & I will not get rid of it…

    I do plan on getting the S&W 586-8


    All metal, 8″ barel, 10 shots instead of 8, PLUS quick change clips as opposed to reloading a non-removable cylinder, and a little more power.

    While as I said, I DO like my Gamo very much, especially for the price & for the reasons above…
    I think the S&W is worth the money, & if I had it to do over… I would have just bought the S&W.

    However, I will still keep my Gamo R-77 6″ Classic, as it is a good looking, fun to shoot, & VERY accurate gun!

    Single action & resting, I put 7 shots in the 7/16 bullseye, & only TWO barley blead into the next ring, & 1 (the 8th shot) 1/4 of the way into the 7/16 bullseye & 3/4 into the the #8 ring of a Daisy “Official 5 Meter Rifle Target” at 15 feet!

    FYI… If you were to hit the small bullseye dead on, you wouldn’t sing the ring surrounding it as it is exactly the same size as a .177 cal. pellet!
    The second/larger ring/bullseye that I am reffering to is only 7/16 of an inch, & while I’m guessing that it would represent the 9 point ring, it doesn’t have a number in it, so I’m calling it the bullseye & the .177 cal. ring the double bullseye. lol 😉

    Any way you slice it, EVERY shot hit at least part of the bullseye, if not were almost dead on!

    There wasn’t one single bridge!
    It looks like one keyhole shot, that is less than 1/2 an inch!

    Not bad for a gun thats under $100!

    The bottom line;

    If you can afford the S&W… GET IT!

    But if the S&W is too expensive for you, get the Gamo!

    – The Big Bore Addict –

  22. Hi guys. I see that you all say that the S&W line of umarex is going down but if you go to http://www.umarexusa.com al the pics have been updated in this year.I know that umarex always sold their S&W’s under the crosman name.but crosman ended their line of S&W and on their web it is gone but umarex stil have it.

  23. You can also buy extra cylinders to avoid reloading every time, & even a 4" Barrel too.

    So you can get the 6" or 8" gun, & then easily change it to a 4" snub nose.

    I highly recommend the 6" though, & also 3 extra cylinders. 😉

    I have the 586-6 & love it!

    The Gamo wheel gun is a great gun for the money, but I don't think they make them anymore.
    (Glad I got mine when I did!)


    If you want to save some money, look for one on the classifieds or auction sites, but IMO… The 586-6 is the best revolver I've ever shot & well worth the money.
    It blows away the Gamo wheel gun hands down!

    Also, even though the 586-8 looks awesome, the 586-6 is a lot better balanced. I was all set on the 8" until I picked both of them up.
    When I realized just how much better balanced the 6" was, it was a no brainer!

    If you're thinking about the 586-6,
    just get it!

    Looks, feel, action, accuracy… You'll love it!

    Hope that helps,

    – The BBA –

  24. B.B.,

    A couple questions about the S&W 586:

    — The advertised muzzle velocities for the revolver are: 400 fps with 4 inch barrel; 425 fps for 6 inch barrel; 460 for 8 inch barrel. The barrel increments are in 2 inches. The gain in velocity was more significant from 4 to 6 inches than from 2 to 4 inches, in log terms as well as in absolute terms. Any thoughts why this is the case? Would the relationship be different for an airgun using HPA instead of of CO2?

    — Your review speaks of Umarex being the maker of this product, but on Pyramydair's product listing, I only see S&W referenced. Did S&W buy out Umarex, or is Umarex a licensed manufacturer to product in the S&W name?


  25. Loren,

    As far as the stated velocities, they seem inflated to me. I think 380 for the 4-inch, 425 for the 6-inch and 440 for the 8-inch sounds more correct. Of course it also depends on the temperature when the shots are fired.

    As for comparing that to air, why bother? This gun cannot be converted to air for a reasonable amount of money (under $500). A PCP with an 8-inch barrel might get a muzzle velocity of 800 f.p.s., but there is no comparison because the valve is different. It is impossible to compare the 596 to a PCP because they will each have different pot diameters and valve dwell times.

    Now if you are asking whether a pneumatic gun varies in velocity when the barrel is lengthened, the answer is yes. Pneumatics operate very much the same as black powder arms, in that the longer the barrel the faster they shoot – to a point.

    Umarex is a huge company that also owns the Walther firearm company. They make most of the look-alike pellet pistols like Colt, S&W, Beretta, Magnum Research, Walther and so on.


  26. It sure has been a great help reading all the comments on this blog. I just wish I could see and test fire a 686-6 before I buy one, no retailers have any on hand.
    Just out of curiosity, what is the group’s recommendation on ‘green gas’ pistols??

  27. Both of those are very good gas pistols. Tokyo Marui has always made very good products, & while
    I too have heard great things about the WE 1911, I would also include the HFC M190 on that list.

    It's not as well known, but it's just one of those guns that if you just shoot it once, you have to have one!

    Simply put… It's my personal favorite gas pistol.

    Semi AND fully auto, blow back,
    high capacity (26 rounds), not bad on gas consumption especially for a blow back, & it's all metal too.
    Very realistic (see my review in this link by "MichaelA."), VERY accurate &
    I thinks it's more powerful than they say.


    Just make sure to only use at least .2g BBs or heavier. You can go as heavy as you like, but
    do NOT use the .12g ones! They are too thin & can break inside the gun & damage it, especially
    if you use the strong gas.

    The accuracy has been described to me as "obscene!"
    And that's just with the .2g BBs. Some people prefer the .25g BBs, but it does very well
    with the KSC high polished .2g BBs.
    The only reason I'd ever use a heavier BB, is for windy days
    or if I really wanted to put some hurting on my enemies. 😉

    In three years of owning &
    shooting it, I've only had to send mine in for repair once, & that was from using the .12g BB,
    like I advised against above.
    The funny thing was that the tech (Rodd Rambo) spoke about how he
    couldn't believe that he actually forgot JUST HOW GOOD of a gun it really was, & that he
    attributes that to the fact that they never come in for repairs, so they MUST be pretty darn reliable too.

    While I prefer 45 cal in hand guns… I just can't seem to put this one down or substitute
    any other gun for it. I love my 1911, but if I'm going to play a game of airsoft, I'm going to take
    my HFC M190 with me!
    Just my $.02 but one I hate to see people over look this gun due to the lack
    of press &/or awareness of it.

    It WILL be one of the LAST ones to go
    if I ever get rid of my airsofts, but I don't see that happening, because they're just
    too much fun.

    – The BBA –

  28. I bought the 586-6 for my husband for Christmas. I know nothing about guns of any type (okay, maybe less than nothing!) Would you please tell me what exactly I need to purchase in addition, so that he is ready to go Christmas day, and any brand preferences? He will be using it for target practice. Thanks in advance!

  29. Nice choice! I wish I had a wife like you! lol
    I have one & love it, & I'm sure he will too. It's a GREAT gun!

    OK… To shoot it, you need pellets & C02 cartridges, & I would highly recommend some extra clips for it! they REALLY come in handy!

    BTW… I buy from Pyramid air all the time & have been doing so for years, because they have the best stuff at the best prices. Here's some info & links to help you out…

    First, here's the extra clips;


    (One three pack is fine.)

    Then I would suggest these 3 types pellets for that gun;

    For very small pest control like mice &/or even just plinking & shooting at cans & stuff get these;


    For paper target shooting get these;


    and if he's a really good shot & you want the best paper target pellets, get these;



    Remember that when you buy 3 tins of pellets, you get a fourth one for free! 🙂

    Don't forget the C02's;


    I always buy 100 at a time. I always use them up & it's the best value.

    Also remember that if your order is $150.00 you get free shipping too!

    Hope that helps,

    – The BBA –

  30. Christmas wife,

    Your husband will also need CO2 cartridges. They can be purchased at Wal-Mart or any big sports store. They typically come in packs of five, and one pack is good for about 250 shots, which will be a day’s shooting. This is what they look like:


    In addition to that, he needs pellets to shoot. The Crosman flat-nosed (wadcutter) target pellets at Wal-Mart are good for this pistol. They look like this:


    Finally – and he doesn’t absolutely need this to get started – he needs a tube of Crosman Pellgunoil. He wants to put a drop of oil on the tip of every new CO2 cartridge he installs in the gun. It looks like this:


    Most stores don’t carry this product, so the best way to get it is through the internet.

    Have a Merry Christmas.


  31. Thank-you SO much!! I appreciate your genorosity of time and comments. Thanks to you my hub will be appropriately “hooked up” Christmas Day! Hope everyone has a great Christmas. Lisa

  32. I is the any why to restore the gloss I just bought a S&W 586 6
    'and the blued job is bad it very dull and rough not glossy like is suppose to be when it first came it was wrapped up in a clear bag can this be the resound why it not glossy blued? thinking hard about returning it but it so powerful
    don't want to ricks getting an under power one this gun is nice it smash the pellet into flat rim

  33. Is there a safety on the Smith & Wesson pistols?

    I examined a 586-6 at a friend's and I couldn't find a safety on it. I noticed a small lever / trigger at the back of the trigger guard but it didn't seem to do anything. A quick review of the manual didn't say any thing about a safety (or the small lever).

  34. Thanks for your reply re the S&W 586 Safety yesterday!

    I am still curious as to the purpose of the small lever behind the trigger at the very back where the guard and frame meet? You can just see it in the photos.

  35. Hey,

    I am just about to buy the S&W 586 6" Nickel model. I was wondering if it was appropiate for small vermin pest control ? such as Mice and the occasional Squirrel (Obviously close range, around 5meters). If so what pellet would you reccomend ?

    Also, have you had a chance to Chrono the fps of the 586 ? as i am also interested in the Beretta 92fs and wan't to know which is the more powerful of the two.

    Thanks in advanced.

  36. Max,

    Mice, yes; squirrels, no. The 586 gets around 400 f.p.s., which is too slow for squirrels, rats or anything larger than mice.

    Wadcutters will be best, since the gun is .177 and needs frontal area.

    Read these two reports that are newer:


    The link to the first one is at the top of the second report I have given you the link to.


  37. Tim,

    Grab one while ya can. This is one gun you will definitely love!

    FYI… The 6" is the best balanced, but if you like the 8" get it, because you can always get a spare 6" barrel & swap it out, but you can NOT get an 8" barrel.

    Hope that helps,


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