3-inch L-frame S&W

3-inch L-frame S&W


I ran across a S&W model 686 L-frame in a round butt, 3” barrel configuration. 

Do you have any experiences with this model and configuration?  The gun shoots great but at 35-ounces empty, is it too heavy for carry in holster on a belt? 

Any experiences and/or holster recommendations for this set up would be appreciated.


Randy H.

Dear Randy:

I hope this note finds you well.

Thank you for the great question.

I think the 3-inch L-frames are great guns. I could see it as a house gun but the muzzle blast in a narrow hall could be a problem. I would also cheerfully carry one if I was planning any deep woods camping or hunting trips.

Where I think the 3-inch L-frame really shines is as a very effective cold weather/winter snub in and around the city.

In the cold weather I can easily hide a larger carry holster under the typical winter jackets and I would be very happy with its ability to punch through heavy winter clothing.

I am about average in size 5’11” and 195-lb. I find that most large frame snubs are easy to hid in the winter, a little challenging in the spring and fall and very hard to hide in the summer.

You may be a larger fellow and might find it easier to conceal a large gun in the spring, summer and fall.

If you can conceal it then only the weight of the gun becomes the issue. You would need a well made holster and an equally well made belt.

Matt Del Fatti SSR Holster

Matt Del Fatti SSR Holster

Of all the outside the waist holsters I would recommend a set from Matt Del Fatti.

You will have to contact his shop though. Last I checked he was not taking any more orders until he had caught up with his current waiting list.

That said, if he made me wait 12- to 18 months for one and I hade a 3-inch L-frame I would still think it was worth the wait.

If you really come to love the gun and you find you can comfortable conceal it you might want to hunt around for one of S&W’s (very) short runs of the alloy weight L-frame snubs.

The heavy gun would make a great late fall and winter gun. The light weight version would make a great spring and summer gun.

If you set them up with the same stocks, sights, etc., you could have a great range/carry/4-season set.

The only two (small) down side –

1) The L-frame options for speedloaders is a little more limited than the K-frames.

2) The rear adjustable sight can chew up a lot of cover garments.

Cylinder and Slide's Extreme Duty Fixed Sights

Cylinder and Slide's Extreme Duty Fixed Sights

Cylinder and Slide makes a very nice replacement “fixed” rear sight that replaces the adjustable sights on the K, L and N frame guns. 

I have one on an adjustable K-frame snub and I think it would work great on a L-frame carry snub.

I hope this info helps a little.

If I missed anything please let me know. 

Thank you again for the great question.


Michael de Bethencourt