What I’m Carrying Now: A Smith & Wesson 686 and a Buck 110 Auto

What I'm Carrying Now

Courtesy Don Nelson

[This post is part of our new series, What I’m Carrying Now. If you’d like to submit a photo and description of the gun, holster and gear you’re carrying in the new world in which we live, send it to us at [email protected] with WICN in the subject field.]

Don Nelson writes . . .

Though not due to the epidemic, I experienced a nostalgia rush a few months ago and tucked the DW V-Bob in the safe, replacing it with this 3” S&W 686 Plus .357 Magnum.

The stocks are VZ, soon to be replaced by Ahrends maple boot grips. An Apex Tactical DAO kit is installed, forcing me to re-learn trigger control during my daily 100-round (full power handloads) drills. (Here in the hinterlands, shooting in the national forest can be isolation.)

While awaiting the Kramer pancake holster, the revolver rides in a generic leather Amazon special, originally ordered for a 3.5” GP100.

Also carried are a Surefire AAA light, Buck 110 Automatic, Explorer II watch and an 8-round generic speed strip.


  1. avatar The Rookie says:


    1. avatar Rad Man says:

      Agreed, superb combo!

    2. avatar Madcapp says:

      A Buck 110 weighs a metric ton. I’ll give you that every redneck and construction worker carried a 110 in the 70’s and 80’s…along with a Zippo and a pack of Marlboro reds, but carrying a Buck 110 today is just absurd.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:


      2. avatar Rad Man says:

        The Dukes of Hazard both carried 110s, as did I. A new auto 110 is about $110.00.

      3. I love my Cold Steel Spartan, Voyager XL Vaquero, CRKT Carnafex, CRKT Hissitsu, S&W M&P large 4 inch folder ( powdered grey.), and a few others!

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          enjoy your chicom.

      4. avatar Roy Kowalski says:

        I’m carrying one daily in it’s holster. Been doing so for five years. It’s not that bad.

  2. avatar conrad says:

    Jeebers, what did you pack before you felt nostalgic?

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      He said a DW V-Bob.

      Commander Sized 1911

    2. avatar George Washington says:

      He said a DW V- Bob….

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    Wins on blast and noise effect hands down.

  4. avatar LifeSavor says:

    100 rounds per day…
    I really should move out of the city.

    1. avatar Art out West says:

      That line also made me jealous.

    2. avatar SuspiciousFisherman says:

      Even on my best I was doing maybe 200 a weekend, and that includes rifles. Which sucks. But practice none the less.

  5. avatar Dan W says:

    100 rounds of 357 is impressive. I did that with .22s, at least until this latest panic.

  6. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    An “auto” Buck 110 complicates a nearly foolproof design that already opens with one hand.

    1. avatar George Washington says:

      WAY easier to use an auto knife…. even IF it opens “easily” with one hand… you fumble with your antique knife and i’ll have mine deployed before you…. plain and SIMPLE…

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        i like apples too, but c’mon.
        if i’m pulling a knife, it’s already open.
        springs fail.

  7. avatar jwm says:

    Phucking show off. I buy a 7 shooter and you show up with an 8 shooter. Anybody know where I can buy a 9 shot .357? 🙂

    1. avatar Art out West says:

      I suppose a 9 shot .22lr revolver doesn’t quite count. My NEF R92 is a lot of fun.

      1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

        I can beat that 10 shots of .17 hmr

        Took a lot of working the action and cleaning it to get that Chiappa reliable though.

    2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      jwm, I don’t know. I’ve never been able to warm up to a revolver that held more than six rds.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        It’s a six shot 686.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          686 Plus, Tom. Which is more than 6. I always thought they were 8 shooters.

        2. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Just 7. 16% increase over a 6 shot.

          Since its 357, that’s like 50% compared to a 9.

        3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          It is an 8 rd speed strip.

        4. avatar Don Nelson says:

          Eight-shot speedloaders are what I had handy.

      2. avatar jwm says:

        GF. Not magnums but back in my youth I ran the hills in WV and KY with 9 shot .22s from H&R and HI Standard. Fond memories of the times and the guns.

        1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          jwm, I forgot to say a .22 LR revolver is the exception.

        2. avatar Miner49er says:

          Growing up I had an Iver Johnson 22 top break with a 6 inch barrel and adjustable sights. It was a blast shooting carpenter bees with shot shells, hillbilly skeet shooting.

          In WV, it don’t bother the neighbors if you’re plinking in the backyard, I wouldn’t try it in an urban area.

    3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Just sent mine in, so maybe soon you’ll be able to see what God and Sam Colt intended a revolver to look like in the 21st century (i.e. 6 Chambers).

    4. avatar Arandom Dude says:

      The 686+ is a seven shooter. They do make an eight shooter, that’s the 627 iirc, built on the same frame size as the .44 magnum.

      1. avatar Chris Dumm says:

        Fellow TTAG alumnus Joe Grine has S&W’s 8-shot .357, and as earlier noted it’s built on the N-frame platform. It’s cool as all get-out and its the ne plus ultra of centerfire revolver firepower, but I don’t think you could carry the beast comfortably in anything less than a chest rig.

        And it’s slightly more concealable than a Desert Eagle. Emphasis on ‘slightly.’

  8. avatar Sld says:

    Very nice, since staying at my rural home fulltime I have been carrying my model 60 and don’t feel underarmed.

    1. avatar Art out West says:

      I know you mean S&W model 60, but when I hear model 60, I always think of the Marlin .22 rifle. I love that gun. Tons of fun, and fun guns are fun.

      1. avatar Squiggy81 says:

        Ditto. 17 shots and no magazine to worry about. Also my first rifle that wasn’t handed down to me.

  9. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Wow! Two Smith .357s in the last few days. At this rate some of the “If it ain’t plastic it ain’t worth looking at.” crowd might have to admit the wheel gun isn’t dead. On the grips; I’ve hunted with John Van Zyke a few times. He admitted their checkering can be a bit sharp. He also said they could “break” that if a customer asked. Smooth is also an option. Still, no one is going to look down their nose at Ahrends. Explorer II is nice. My buddy Randy wears one. Always been a Submariner man myself. Don, you’ll like that Kramer leather. I’ve owned several pieces for years. A bit scuffed up now, but just as serviceable as the day it arrived. Buck 110. Classic. Surefire. Bet my life on them. Overall two thumbs up.

    1. avatar Jon says:

      I have 2 Model 28’s with Ahrends retro targets on them, and have gotten a number of compliments.

    2. avatar Don Nelson says:

      Gadsen, I’ve got VZs on several pistols including my V-Bobs. A little sandpaper fixes the sharpness, especially on the left (skin) side. Always a perfect fit, tougher than hell, fairly priced. These shown have been thinned up by the hump, the butt’s been shortened, and the pinky hook removed to accommodate my girly hands.

      The Kramer holster, due any day now, was because I like their pancake design and my regular favorite, High Noon, doesn’t make their horsehide “Topless” model for revolvers.

  10. avatar Indiana Oak says:

    Nice set-up for sure! Always wanted a 686, just never found one at the price point I wanted. Could trade but I buy mine to keep and shoot. Going into warm weather here in Tucson, I’ll switch to my Taurus M85. Lihtweight and easy to carry. I’ve got several 110s just not “auto”.

    1. avatar LOL Taurus says:

      Oooo, a Taurus. Besides carrying that POS, in what other ways do you let the world know you’ve given up on your hopes and dreams?

    2. avatar Blkojo says:

      Tucson…you can still have a gun, and carry one, in Leftistville?! Who’d a thunk it!

  11. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Don Nelson,

    That is a beautiful revolver!

    A word of caution: I have read many sources which claim that your daily steady diet of full-power .357 Magnum loads causes Smith & Wesson revolvers to fail. I have no idea how reliable those sources are.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Machines break. Better to make sure it isn’t broken right?

    2. avatar Nate in CA says:

      You are thinking of early K frames (S&W 19’s & 66’s)and early nuclear .357 loads (think 125 grains @ 1500-1600 fps) that were popular in LEO circles – back in the 60’s.
      The 586 and 686 suffer no such consequences, shoot on!

    3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      That was mostly the combat magnums I believe (not a Smith guy so I forget their numbers). When Ruger came out with the Security 6 it took a big chunk out of S&W’s and Colt’s (which would go out if time from too much full power stuff) sales. Smith answered with the 586 and 686 which would take a, for all practical purposes, unlimited quantity of full power loads. Of course in the meantime, Ruger came out with the GP100 which could dial the .357 up to ludicrous speed if one desired.

      Also, it should be noted, the typical Remington, Winchester, Federal, etc. crap most people shoot at the range is NOT full power .357. For the full power (not +p) stuff you need to go to Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, etc. and spend at least $1 per round. Or roll your own. Effectively it would probably cost $50,000 in ammo to break a 686, so the fact that it would take $100,000 to break a GP100 is really mostly just about bragging rights.

      1. avatar Col. Sanders says:

        Sorry, I had to….

      2. avatar Don Nelson says:

        My loads put a 158-grain Hornady XTP out at 1200 fps from the 3” barrel. A little milder than the original loading but hotter than the two current factory loads I chrono’d. Boutique brands can certainly top this, but it’s about all I can handle at the rate I’ve been shooting.

        1. avatar SAr says:

          That’s a big load, I really like guys with big loads.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          That’s pretty respectable (500+ ft/lbs energy). Haven’t chronoed them but I figured the Double Tap 158s I run come out at over 1300fps and around 600 ft/lbs, but there’s also a noticeable increase in recoil. And they’re too expensive to shoot more than a cylinder full at the range. I seem to shoot as good or better with the DTs as anything so I’ll stick with them. Besides, I only have 6 rounds.

    4. avatar BusyBeef says:

      That’s true in the K-frame guns. This is an L-frame gun, built specifically to address that issue.

  12. avatar IAmNotTheHulk says:

    Very nice revolver!

  13. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

    This is not a set I’d be inclined to criticize. Bravo on the regular practice. I don’t shoot my revolvers on single action much (almost never) but I would not be inclined to render them DAO, that is just my preference though.

  14. avatar Billb says:

    Just send those grips my way. I’ll put em on a 4″ 686+. Seriously. Nice choices there. Looks great.

  15. avatar Mack The Knife says:

    Buck 110 Auto? Prove it.

    1. avatar M10 says:

      He did prove it – you can see it in the pic along with the auto button. 110 Autos are common. You act like you’ve never heard of one before. Check out BladeHQ if you want one for yourself.

    2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      less than two years now. also available for the 112.
      the lite models are nice as they’ve dehorned that damn clip point some, for the better afaic.

  16. avatar Prndll says:

    Been carrying a Buck 110 for many years. It’s a great knife. I would recommend it to anyone.

    Revolvers are the only Smith&Wesson firearms that interest me. The 686 in particular.

  17. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Not a Smith guy, but if I was this is what I’d carry. The VZ grips look nice. I’m sure the maple ones will look even nicer, but for edc I think I’d stick with what you’ve got, personally.

  18. avatar WI Patriot says:

    I recently acquired a Taurus Tracker 692 SS 3″, which is basically the same gun, but ported…

    1. avatar BusyBeef says:

      It’s not even remotely the same gun.
      It uses a coil spring instead of a leaf spring as the main/hammer spring – as a result, you get a vastly different trigger.

      1. avatar WI Patriot says:

        You need to look at them both side by side, they are the same gun, with minor differences…

        Like Chevrolet and GMC, same truck, minor differences…

  19. avatar Vinny says:

    Not sure if the 686 cylinder is machined for moon clips at the factory. On the other hand the 627 is machined for moon clips.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      My 686+ performance center is milled.

    2. avatar Don Nelson says:

      This one is not cut for moon clips. Technically, this is a 3” from the “3-5-7” series which include 5” and 7” as well. I bought it used (two chambers had been fired) for $600 at a local shop.

      1. avatar Miner49er says:

        I have purchased many used .357’s with a box of ammo missing one to six rounds.

        Everybody wants a magnum until they actually shoot it.

        1. avatar BusyBeef says:

          The 686 handles Magnums very well. Especially once you go to a grip that fully covers the backstrap.

          I put Pachmayr square butt grips on my round butt 686 – works fine and the gun is an absolute joy to shoot magnums out of.

  20. avatar Sam says:

    My Dad gave me a Buck 110 41 years ago. Walnut scales. I stopped carrying it 10+ years ago. I want my son to have it. I’ve always liked pocket knifes. I’ve, um, compensated myself for saving him the 110…

    I have a 4″ 686-4. I like it a lot But 3″ barrels on L frames are just about the perfect balance of anything I’ve shot in that size.

    Now, this is an unfair comparison. But what if you’d talked about a 696 no dash?

  21. avatar possum says:

    That’s a beautiful setup. most of these what I carry have really been down to earth practical. And I’d be damned proud to be shot with any of them,,,ehh not the Glocks.

  22. avatar strych9 says:

    I’m not a wheelgun guy but that’s a good looking piece.

  23. avatar Alan says:

    Nice gun for sure. That’s a lot of keys, and why the handcuff keys?

    1. avatar Don Nelson says:

      Alan, it’s a souvenir of my USMC LEO days. Came in handy only once since then, when a friend of a friend handcuffed his girlfriend to a chair and lost the key.

      1. avatar Dude says:


  24. avatar Don Nelson says:

    If the administrators will tolerate it, I’m going to write a really long background post about why this particular revolver model ended up on my hip 7/24.

    As a youngster back in 1972 I was issued various 1911s for duty in the Marines. By then I’d already purchased a S&W Model 28 in .357 Magnum. The issue gun was a work-related tool, as were the M14 and later M16 rifles. The 28 and a Model 19 .357 were personal, though the command allowed me to carry the 19 during some OD (Officer of the Day) stints.

    Time marches on, but that work vs. personal thing is still running in the background.

    Lots of handguns later, sometime mid-2019 I became fixated on the Manurhin M73, a French .357 used my their national police, the GIGN. They’d apparently tested S&W M19s and found them to wear out under their daily training regimen of 150 full power loads, and drafted the arms factory at Manurhin to improve the design and durability of the Smith.

    Remember, all of this is apocryphal – certainly legend, maybe fact. The resulting M73 differed from its S&W 19 parent by incorporating roller bearings on the trigger return block, and using an adjustable leaf spring in the grip frame for trigger return. I understand that frame, yoke and cylinder hardness were also increased to reduce wear.

    I wanted one badly, but the few sources of new Manhurin revolvers in the US asked around $3200 for new examples. Somewhere, probably on wikipedia, I read that GIGN used S&W 686s for amphibious operations due to stainless construction, and recalled that their decision to use M73s was made before the S&W 586 and 686 existed. I’d never owned an L-frame Smith before. Lots of J-frames, several N-frames, a few K-frames, but no L-frames. So I started looking for one to see, among other things, if it could stand heavy use.

    The one pictured has about 2400 rounds through it, maybe 75% hot .357s. There’s no change in cylinder end play and lockup is as new. If wear does happen, I’ll rebuild it, though that’s a finicky job.

    But now I’ve fallen for the gun and just enjoy ringing steel and walking beer cans with it. Except for a few factory loads that were chronographed, it eats a steady diet of handloads from a 1970s loading manual. My hand is growing callouses and my dog’s ears are ringing, but as long as this “social distancing” thing continues, this revolver’s gonna get shot hard.

  25. avatar DCJ says:

    I’ve owned a 110 since high school, back when you could still take a knife or even a gun to school. A booger to sharpen when you don’t know how. But since I’ve always loved in non-free knife states, I had no idea there was an auto version. And mine was always a challenge to open with one hand. It’s now a Kershaw and a CRKT with me most days.

  26. avatar Wiregrass says:

    I’m sure the Ahrends grips will look nice but I’ve been very happy with the VZ grips on my 642.

  27. avatar kristine schechter says:

    You Are On A Lookout For A Way To Earn Your First Dollar Online You Can Stop Searching! Start Now With This Award Winning Program And Receive Your First Paycheck Within A Week! Find out more here… Details Here

  28. avatar TP says:

    Very nice and Good choice. Wheel gun will get er done.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email