Like a phoenix out of the ashes, Smith & Wesson’s classic, double-action, blued-steel, full-lug-barreled, .357 Magnum L-Frame Model 586 revolver has risen. Okay, maybe that’s a bit overdramatic, but I for one am thrilled that the 586 is back. Except for my .22 LR S&W K-Frame Model 17, which was my first-ever brand-new gun and has lived with me for 35 years, the Model 586 is my all-time favorite Smith & Wesson. Why? Because it’s made to last, it’s extremely accurate, and it’s a real pleasure to shoot.
Built for Hard Use
The original Model 586 with adjustable sights was brought to market in 1981, and S&W introduced several new features with it. It and the Model 581 (fixed sights) were the first L-Frame guns, and they were specifically designed to stand up to the hard effects of shooting full-power .357 Magnum rounds. Back then the high-pressure 125-grain .357s were some of the hottest ammo available, and so S&W beefed up the frame, the forcing cone, and the cylinder with the L-Frame. The models were given a full-length barrel underlug to add weight to help counter the sharp recoil and abrupt muzzle jump of those magnum loads. The 581 and 586 immediately appealed to law enforcement (remember that this was before the era of the “wonder nines”), and they spawned the stainless-steel S&W Models 681 and 686, which were announced to the public at the same time.