As even many non-shooters know, Smith & Wesson has been producing some of the finest DA revolvers on the planet for a long time. Some of the greatest models ever distributed were designed and manufactured by the Massachusetts-based firm, such as the great triple-lock revolver, introduced in 1908. Subsequently, Smith & Wesson has continued to design and produce fabulous revolvers, and nothing has changed today. One Smith & Wesson success story in the double-action revolver line has been the L-frame series of handguns, like the Smith & Wesson Model 986. Originally designed for the .357 Mag. cartridge, L-frames have been a popular firearms for sporting, law-enforcement and self-defense. Smith & Wesson introduced the 9 mm cartridge to the L-frame series some time back, and it is offering a couple of different models through the company’s Performance Center.
For those not familiar with the Performance Center, it’s the division of the company responsible for putting fine touches on already-good designs. In other words, it’s a custom manufacturer within—but apart from—the regular the Smith & Wesson factory.
One of the latest offerings from the Performance Center is the Model 986 PC, a 2.5-inch revolver chambered in 9 mm. The concept of this stubby revolver seems reminiscent of the 2.5-inch Model 19, the K-frame .357 Mag., but the differences are tremendous. It sports many of the Performance Center signature features, such as the custom barrel, which is flat-sided. Such a feature not only enhances the revolver’s appearance, it also cuts a little weight. The barrel’s muzzle boasts a recessed crown.
The 2.5-inch Smith & Wesson Model 986 PC is a stainless-steel revolver, yet it features an unfluted, titanium cylinder. At first glance, it would seem that such a bulky cylinder might defeat the point of a snub-nose revolver, but the lightweight titanium makes it a non-issue. The pistol’s action is expertly tuned by Performance Center personnel. Part of this process includes the addition of a bossed mainspring, providing a much smoother, lighter trigger pull than a standard production revolver. The action was quite smooth and creepless in both double and single action.
The seven-shot Smith & Wesson Model 986 PC comes with a pair of moon clips to accommodate the 9 mm cartridges. Handling of the seven-shot, loaded moon clips is smooth, easy and fast. The revolver is fitted with a fine set of S&W wooden stocks. They are thin and feature subtle finger grooves, along with a sufficient amount of stippling in the center of each panel. Comfortable in the hand, they make the revolver quite compatible for concealed carry.
The Smith & Wesson Model 986 PC features the standard Smith & Wesson adjustable rear sight, accompanied by a ramped front sight that features a solid-orange insert. This arrangement makes a great sight picture for both experienced and novice shooters.
Firing the truncated Smith & Wesson Model 986 PC was quite comfortable and the revolver functioned flawlessly. The action remained smooth in both double- and single-action modes. Rapid-fire in double-action resulted in ringing steel plates at short ranges with no problem. Reloading the full-moon clips with 9 mm ammunition proved somewhat troublesome. They aren’t easy to load, particularly prior to having a number of rounds run through them. Further, removing empty cases was no simple task. Needle-nose pliers proved to be quite handy for the job, but reloading shouldn’t be that tiresome.
For shooters looking for a good range revolver, the Smith & Wesson Model 986 PC should be appealing. It’s easy to handle with several types of ammunition. Competitive shooters will also appreciate the revolver. Of course, the greatest advantage of a 9 mm-chambered revolver is ammo compatibility. You can use the same ammunition whether you feel like carrying/shooting your wheelgun or your semi-automatic. Moreover, 9 mm ammunition is plentiful and relatively inexpensive, and it seems almost everyone has some on hand.
The Smith & Wesson Model 986 PC is a well-considered, well-designed revolver built with the competitive or everyday shooter in mind.