Smith & Wesson Model 586

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Smith & Wesson Model 586
Smith and Wesson 586-7.jpg
586-7 Revolver with 7-round capacity and factory wood grips and hammer lock
Place of originUnited States
Production history
ManufacturerSmith & Wesson
Produced1981-1999, 2012-present
Barrel length
  • 2½ in (64mm)
  • 3 in (76mm)
  • 4 in (102mm)
  • 6 in (153mm)
  • 8⅜ in (214 mm)

ActionDouble action
Feed system6 round cylinder
SightsAdjustable rear open sights

The Smith & Wesson Model 586, is a six- or seven-shot double-action revolver chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge. The 586 is the adjustable sight companion revolver to the fixed sight S&W Model 581.

It is essentially the same weapon as the S&W Model 686, the 586 has a carbon steel construction and is available in a blued or nickel finish, while the 686 has a stainless steel construction.


In addition to being able to chamber and fire .357 Magnum cartridges, the 586 will chamber and fire .38 Special cartridges as well as.38 Special+P, as the .357 Magnum was developed from the .38 Special. The magnum case is slightly longer (0.1 in) to prevent magnum rounds from being chambered and fired in handguns chambered only for the .38 Special. The 586 has been available with 2½ in, 3 in, 4 in, 6 in, and 8⅜" in (64, 76, 102, 153, and 214 mm) barrel lengths as standard models and other barrel lengths either by special order from S & W's Performance Center custom shop, or acquired from or built by after-market gunsmiths.[1]

The Model 586 uses S & W's L (medium) revolver frame, with a K-Frame sized grip mated to a larger diameter cylinder. During the 1980s, Smith & Wesson developed its L-Frame line of .357 Magnums: the Model 581, Model 586, Model 681 and Model 686. The Model 581 had a fixed notch type rear sight, whereas the 586 used a target style adjustable rear sight. These handguns had a major effect on both law enforcement and sporting markets. The 586 was introduced in 1980 and the 581 was discontinued in 1988.[1]

The barrel has a twist rate of 1/18.75 for the 158gr. bullet.

According to Jim Supica and Richard Nahas in their book Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson; 3rd Edition (Gun Digest Books, Iola WI. 2006)

The K-frame .357 magnum revolvers became immensely popular as police revolvers. However some felt that extensive firing of full power .357 ammunition in the relatively light framed guns was wearing on both gun and shooter. There appeared to be a demand for a .357 that handled like a K frame but offered the heft and durability of an N frame. The L frame was introduced as this compromise size, with design input from Roy Jinks (official S&W company historian), and quickly established itself in the law enforcement and hunting markets. L frames also generally feature a full-length under-barrel lug, which adds recoil-absorbing weight to the gun.[1]

It was manufactured in either blue or nickel-plated versions. A stainless steel version exists as the Model 686. Other variations, such as the Model 686+, chambered for 7 rounds, are available. In the late 1990s, Smith & Wesson discontinued production of all but a few blued revolvers, thus the Model 686 and its variants are the only models currently produced.

On March 13, 2000 Smith and Wesson, in an agreement with the Clinton Administration, made internal changes to their revolver line including the 586. One change was the addition of an internal hammer locking mechanism. To lock the hammer, a key included with the revolver would be inserted on the left side of the revolver just above the cylinder release button. Once the key is inserted the hammer was disabled by turning the key counterclockwise. A metal plate would appear with the word 'Locked'. Turning the key clockwise would unlock the hammer and the metal plate would retract into the frame. The second change moved the firing pin from the hammer to the frame and a transfer bar was added. Other manufacturers have used transfer bar system in their revolvers. Many Smith and Wesson purists felt betrayed with what they feel is an unwarranted change.[2]

The 586 was discontinued in 1991. After a 13-year absence, Smith & Wesson reintroduced the 586 in 2012 with the aforementioned safety modifications. It is currently produced with 4-in. and 6-in. barrel lengths as part of its Classic line of revolvers. The 586-8 features a redesigned and improved yoke.[1]

Model 586 Variants[edit]

Model Year Modifications
586 1980 Introduction at AAA 0001 serial prefix
586-1 1986 Radius stud package, floating hand
586-2 1987 Change hammer nose and associated parts
586-M 1987 Voluntary recall - replace hammer nose and firing pin bushing
586-3 1988 New yoke retention system
586-3 1992 Delete 8 3/8" barrel, four-position front site and delete nickel finish
586-4 1994 Drill and tap frame, synthetic grips, change rear sight and extractor
586-4 1995 Delete square butt
586-4 1997 Change to MIM thumb piece
586-5 1993 Special run of .38 SPL
586-5 1996 Begin shipments in blue plastic case
586-5 1997 Delete 8 3/8" barrel, change to MIM thumbpiece, ship with trigger locks
586-6 1997 New frame process with integral frame lug, change to MIM hammer & trigger, change to internal lockwork
586-6 1999 November, 586 Discontinued
586-6 2000 Special Run 586-L Comp
586-7 2004 7-shot variant with internal lock
586-8 2012 Reintroduced under Classic Series, six round, internal lock 4" and 6" RR, WO TS SB [3]


In 1987, seven years after the release of the Model 586, there were reports of cylinder binding with some types of standard .357 Magnum ammunition for L-frame revolvers manufactured before August 1987. S&W put out a product warning and authorized a no-charge upgrade to make modifications to all 586, 586-1, 686, 686-1, and 686CS-1 revolvers.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson; 3rd Edition, Jim Supica and Richard Nahas, Gun Digest Books, Iola WI. 2006
  2. ^
  3. ^ Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson 4thEd Jim Supica and Richard Nahas, Gun Digest Books, Iola WI. 2016
  4. ^ Product Warning, Popular Mechanics, January 1988, p. 11.