The Springfield, Massachusetts-based firearm manufacturer Smith & Wesson is one of, if not the most well-known American gun manufacturers in history.
It’s not at all difficult to see why — the company’s storied history began almost 170 years ago — plenty of time to establish themselves as one of the United States’ premier rifle and pistol manufacturers.
And although revolvers are not exactly the newest in firearms design — Smith & Wesson’s revolvers are among the best out there today.
Smith & Wesson Model 986, Explained
One of the company’s more unique revolvers is the Model 986. At first glance, the revolver appears rather similar to any of Smith & Wesson’s other models. The revolver is based on the company’s L-Frame revolvers, a robust medium-sized revolver. The revolver is adequate to handle magnum cartridges like the .357 Magnum and even the larger .44 Magnum.
The Model 986 is different, however: it is chambered in the 9x19mm cartridge, a pistol cartridge that is normally reserved for semi-automatic pistols.
Due to the 9x19mm’s relatively small diameter compared to some larger pistol cartridges, the Model 986’s cylinder can accommodate 7 cartridges, affording the pistol a relatively high capacity. The moderately powerful pistol cartridge combined with a frame more than adequate to handle the 9x19mm’s recoil offers a very comfortable plinker with modest recoil.
According to the Smith & Wesson website, the Model 986 comes in two variants, a shorter, 2.5-inch barreled version with wooden grips, as well as a larger, 5-inch version. The longer Model 986 is part of Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center Pro Series lineup and comes with rubberized grips as well as a fluted titanium cylinder and a crowned barrel for more consistent shooting.
“Performance Center guns originate from standard designs or are created from the ground up.,” Smith & Wesson explains on their website. “From hand-cutting and fitting to fine tuning for precision, these firearms are top performers. Products from the Performance Center are the ultimate expression of old-world craftsmanship blended with modern technology.”
Though certainly high-quality, the Model 986 is by no means a cheap revolver — both the 2.5-inch and 5-inch variants are nearly $1,200, making them among the more expensive of similarly configured revolvers on the market today.
The Smith & Wesson Model 986: A True Classic
Clearly, Smith & Wesson has sunk their expertise in gun making into the Model 986 revolver, reflected in both the revolver’s price tag as well as the revolver’s multiple superior features.
If you’re looking for a high-quality revolver with nearly 175 years of experience behind it — as well as a more moderately powerful and easy-to-find 9x19mm chambering — then the Model 986 is an excellent choice.
Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer based in Europe. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.