Select Page

If you’re the proud owner of a Smith & Wesson Model 686, you know it’s a top-notch firearm. But to keep it in tip-top shape, it’s essential to clean it regularly. In this article, I’ll guide you through the steps to do just that.

Cleaning your Smith & Wesson Model 686 isn’t as daunting as it might seem. With the right tools and a bit of patience, you’ll have it looking and functioning like new in no time. Stay tuned as we dive into the nitty-gritty of maintaining your prized possession.

Gathering Cleaning Supplies

Ensuring that you have the proper supplies before diving into the cleaning process is one of the most crucial aspects. Surprisingly, the list isn’t long or complicated. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Smith & Wesson Cleaning Kit: Your go-to choice packed with the necessary supplies for maintaining all revolver models. It’s specialized for a handgun just like your 686.
  • Bore Cleaner and Lubricant: Dubbed a must-have, these solutions do the heavy lifting by breaking down dirt, grime, and unwanted build-up.
  • Cleaning Rods, Brushes and Patches: These add precision to your cleaning job. Rods help run patches through the barrels, brushes clean obstructions, and patches give that final swipe of cleanliness.

Finding these tools isn’t a hassle, either. Most gun shops, outdoor supply stores, and online markets have these supplies readily available.

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, it’s also key to prep your workspace. Choose a well-lit and well-ventilated area. You’ll want enough light to spot dirt in areas less obvious, and adequate ventilation is essential considering the chemicals you’ll be dealing with.

Unloading and Safety Precautions

After ensuring you’ve got your Smith & Wesson cleaning kit and other supplies at your disposal, you can’t just dive headfirst into the cleaning process. Safety, as always, must be paramount. First and foremost, you need to make sure your Smith & Wesson Model 686 is unloaded before commencing. The unloading process is simple, but it’s important to do it properly and handle the firearm with care.

It’s recommended you stick to a specific routine when unloading your firearm – consistent, cautious actions will help prevent any unwanted accidents or malfunctions. Start by pointing the firearm in a safe direction, away from yourself or anyone else. Release the cylinder by pushing forward on the cylinder release located on the left side of the firearm, then slide it out from the frame.

Now that the cylinder is out and exposed, visually inspect each chamber. Don’t forget, appearances can be deceiving. You can look into the back of the chambers or even run a finger over them to ensure they’re clear of any bullets or empty shells. This doesn’t take long and can be the difference between a safe cleaning and a dangerous situation.

Aside from the unloading process, there are other precautions you should take into consideration. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Wearing protective eyewear and gloves when cleaning. Some cleaning solutions contain chemicals that can be irritating to the eyes and skin.
  • Do not drink, eat, or smoke while handling cleaning solutions.
  • Ensure safety discarding of used patches, cleaning rags and empty cleaning containers.
  • Aim for a stress-free environment; interruptions can lead to mistakes.

I can’t stress enough the importance of safety. With the firearm unloaded and safety measures in place, you’re now ready to move onto the actual cleaning process of your Smith & Wesson Model 686. An exciting part is about to begin, so stay tuned and stay safe.

Field-Stripping the Smith & Wesson Model 686

Now that we’ve set the stage and emphasized the importance of safety protocols, let’s delve into breaking down, or field-stripping, your Smith & Wesson 686 revolver. This crucial step prepares the firearm for a deep and thorough cleaning.

Firstly, removing the cylinder and yoke assembly from the frame is essential. Use a screwdriver to gently unscrew and set aside the yoke retaining screw. The cylinder and yoke can now be slid out from the frame, take care not to force it. It should glide out smoothly.

Next, it’s onto the removal of the extractor. At this point, you’ll need to push on the extractor rod and then carefully slide the extractor and spring assembly out from the cylinder. Note, the extractor spring will probably come out separately. Keep all these pieces together in a tray or a ziplock bag to avoid loss and confusion.

We’ll follow this with the removal of the grips. This model often comes with a removable set of rubber grips and a set of wood panels. You can use a penny or a wide flat-bladed screwdriver to remove the grip screw and then slide off each panel. You need to be gentle during this operation as wood panels can be brittle and easily damaged.

Finally comes disassembly of the main spring. With the grip panels removed, you’ll find the main spring within its housing at the rear of the frame. A single screw, placed at the bottom of the frame, fixes it in place. Loosening this screw allows you to remove the entire main spring housing.

There you have it. The Smith & Wesson Model 686 is now field-stripped and ready for the cleaning process which I’ll be taking you through in the next section.

Cleaning the Barrel and Slide

After field-stripping your Smith & Wesson Model 686, we’ve reached the phase where it’s time to delve more into cleaning specifics. Starting with the barrel and slide, attention to detail is crucial.

To clean the barrel, you’ll initially need a bore brush attached to a gun-cleaning rod. By using a small amount of gun oil or solvent on the bore brush, you can thoroughly scrub the inside of the barrel. Make sure to pass the brush all the way through so it emerges from the other end. That’s because pushing it halfway and pulling it back could otherwise lodge debris back into the barrel.

When you’ve sufficiently scrubbed the barrel with the bore brush, replace it with a gun cleaning patch holder and run patches soaked in solvent through the barrel. This should lift and remove remaining residue until clean. As you continue this process, discard dirty patches and replace them with clean ones until the patches come out as clean as they went in. No black or gray residue should be visible on the patch.

Moving on to the cleaning of the slide, somewhat similar steps are taken. Your nylon utility brush or old toothbrush soaked in solvent should be utilized on the slide interior. By doing so, this will enable you to clean the dirt and residue accumulated during firing. Clean the areas around the extractor and firing pin as well. If these areas are not sufficiently cleaned, it may lead to firearm malfunctions.

Finalize this cleaning process by drying both the barrel and slide with a clean, dry cloth, and then lightly oil them to prevent rust. Note, with the barrel, the goal is not to leave it dripping with oil but rather to wipe it down with an oil-soaked patch for subtle lubrication.

Remember: Always abide by all safety instructions provided by the gun manufacturer. Proper care and maintenance of your firearm can extend its life and maintain its accuracy and functionality.

Onward we move to our next section, where we’ll discuss the crucial steps to clean the cylinder assembly.

Lubricating the Firearm

After diligently scrubbing the barrel and slide, we move on to an equally important step – the lubrication of your Smith & Wesson Model 686. The right lubrication helps improve performance while keeping your revolver in prime condition. Proper lubrication ensures smooth action and protects against wear and tear.

Understanding where and how much to apply oil will safeguard your firearm’s longevity. So let’s get down to it!

Drop oil in each hole of the cylinder where the cartridges are loaded. Keep it minimal as excessive oil may attract dust and lead to jamming over time. The aim is to create a thin film over the surface, not to drench it.

Next up is oiling the yoke tube, the cylinder’s center axis. Gently apply a small amount around the surface. Often neglected, this step is crucial in ensuring the smooth rotation of the cylinder.

Finally, proceed to lube the rod that connects the hammer and the trigger. A cotton swab will serve well for this task. Reach into the gun frame and spot a shiny, round metal piece. Apply some oil onto it and spin it a few times to distribute it evenly.

It’s important to remember that the right lubricant matters to maintain gun health. With tons of options in the market, stick to the one suggested by your manufacturer or a well-trusted firearm oil brand.

Note: Always ensure your gun is clean before applying oil. Dirt or grime may mix with the lubricant, making the process ineffective and potentially harmful to the firearm.

Stay tuned as we transition into the next step. And don’t hesitate to revisit any previous sections for reinforcement. The motive here is to keep your revolver in top form, performing efficiently, and lasting a lifetime.

Reassembling the Smith & Wesson Model 686

Excellent work so far – your Smith & Wesson 686 is now spotless and fully lubricated. It’s time for reassembly. Mind you; the mechanism isn’t overly complex, but attention to detail is crucial.

Begin with replacing the cylinder yoke assembly into the frame. Align the yoke’s tube with the frame hole, pushing it back in smoothly. Don’t force it! Remember, the proper assembly of your gun ensures its longevity and functionality.

Next, proceed to the thumb piece and screw. Reconnect the thumb piece, making sure it’s secure but not overly tight. It’s important to strike a balance as over-tightening can hamper the revolver’s operation.

The last major component to replace is the side plate. Carefully place it back on the frame, ensuring it fits snugly. Again, avoid force. Smith & Wesson has designed their parts to fit perfectly.

When screwing back the side plate, follow this precise order:

  • Front screw
  • Bottom screw
  • Rear screw

It’s important to note that both the front and rear screws are the same size, but the bottom screw is visibly distinctive. Mixing these up may cause operational issues with your revolver.

After completing these steps, your revolver should be fully operational again. Always test the action after assembly. One tip is to make sure the cylinder swings out smoothly and locks up correctly. If it doesn’t, disassemble and check your work again.

One last thing before moving on: Go safe. Yes, it’s time to test-fire your handgun. But safety is paramount. To operate a firearm safely, you need to handle it confidently and competently. The assembly process you’ve just completed plays a crucial role in that. You’re cultivating your knowledge of the firearm as you take responsibility for its maintenance.

Now it’s time we dive into the world of ballistics. Are you ready to tackle another essential part of maintaining your Smith & Wesson 686? Stay with me, folks. There’s much more to learn.


So there you have it. I’ve walked you through how to clean your Smith & Wesson Model 686 and ensure it’s in top-notch shape for your next adventure. Remember, it’s all about the details when it comes to reassembling the cylinder yoke assembly, thumb piece and screw, and side plate. Doing it right will extend the life of your revolver and keep it functioning smoothly. Don’t forget to test the action after assembly – it’s a vital step that shouldn’t be skipped. And above all, always prioritize safety when handling your firearm. Keep your Smith & Wesson clean, and it’ll serve you well for years to come.

How do I reassemble a Smith & Wesson Model 686 revolver after cleaning?

To reassemble the revolver, start by aligning the cylinder yoke assembly with the frame and insert it into place. Next, attach the thumb piece and screw, making sure it is tightened securely. Finally, reattach the side plate, ensuring that it is properly aligned and flush with the frame. It is crucial to pay attention to details and follow the assembly instructions carefully for optimal functioning.

Why is proper assembly important for the functionality of the revolver?

Proper assembly ensures that all components are securely in place, allowing the revolver to function smoothly and reliably. If the revolver is not assembled correctly, it may lead to malfunctions, misfires, or other operational issues. Paying attention to details during assembly helps maintain the longevity and performance of the firearm.

Should I test the revolver’s action after assembly?

Yes, it is highly recommended to test the revolver’s action after assembly. This can be done by manually cycling the cylinder to check for smooth rotation and ensuring that the trigger and hammer engage properly. Testing the action ensures that the gun is functioning correctly and reduces the risk of potential malfunctions or safety hazards.

What precautions should I take when handling firearms?

When handling firearms, always prioritize safety. Treat every gun as if it is loaded, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and never point the firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot. Securely store firearms when not in use and educate yourself on proper handling techniques. Following these precautions helps prevent accidents and ensures responsible firearms ownership.