The Best Smith and Wesson 686 Holster

The Smith and Wesson 686 is one of the most popular .357 revolvers of all time. These revolvers have been around since the 1980’s and have withstood the test of time.

The Model 686 revolver is one of the strongest revolvers in Smith and Wesson’s entire product line. Throughout the years there has been thousands of holsters made for this fine revolver.

Which is The Best Smith and Wesson 686 Holster

1. Galco Dual Action Outdoorsman Holster for S&W 686

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The Galco Dual Action Outdoorsman holster is one of the nicest outside the waistband holsters available for the S&W 686 revolver. This Galco holster comes in both a 4 inch and 6 inch variant.

This Galco holster is an extremely heavy duty outside waistband holster. The leather on this holster is surprisingly thick compared to a lot of other holsters. When you first purchase this holster it will be a snug fit. Most people will want to soften the holster up a bit before using it. You can easily open and close the snaps with one hand for a quick draw.

This holster is actually pretty expensive, but you get what you pay for. This is a high quality OWB holster and should last a lifetime if properly cared for.

The holster combined with your gun is actually pretty heavy so you will need a heavy duty belt. If you don’t own a proper gun belt I would recommend using one that’s at least 1.5″ thick. In my opinion this is the best Smith and Wesson 686 holster for the majority of people.

If you like this Galco Holster you may like the Galco PHX104 Dual Position Phoenix

2. Azula Smith & Wesson 686 Revolver IWB Leather Holster

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This inside the waistband holster is made by Azula Gun Holsters. This holster was designed to be used with a K/L frame Smith & Wesson gun. This holster can be used with revolvers that have 2-2.5″ barrel lengths.

It’s hard to find a inside the waistband holster for your S&W 686. This Azula gun holster is extremely high quality for the price point. Azula gun holsters have been hand making quality holsters for over 30 years and they come with a lifetime replacement warranty.

You will receive a high quality leather holster that was hand crafted to  custom fit the 686 revolver. When you first try out this holster the fit is extremely tight.

You will need to work the leather in for a while to make your gun easier to draw. The leather is very thick for the price that you pay. This holster has additional leather that covers the top of the revolver to stop the hammer from digging into your side. The leather covers the trigger area and securely fastens your gun to your belt. This is the best inside waistband holster for your S&W 686 revolver.

3. Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster System

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The Galco Vertical shoulder holster is easily the nicest shoulder holster available for the Smith and Wesson 686. This S&W 686 holster is available in both 4 inch and 6 inch.

Galco is one of the leaders in the holster industry and they command a steep price. What you get for your money is an extremely high quality holster that should last a lifetime.

This Galco Vertical holster can be worn as either a vertical or diagonal draw holster. The proper draw angle will largely depend on your height and overall dimensions.

The biggest advantage to this vertical holster is the spider harness on the back of this holster. The patented spider harness design allows all the straps to pivot independently so the harness moves with your body.

You will get a more secure comfortable fit than with most of the other competition. There is an included ammo carrier to hold additional rounds. My only real problem with this holster is the size of the shoulder strap.

If the rig isn’t correctly adjusted the narrow strap can dig into your shoulder. You can’t go wrong with this holster, if you can afford it. Galco holsters are known for their dependability and ergonomics. This Galco Vertical shoulder holster is the best shoulder holster for your S&W 686 revolver.

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Choosing a Smith and Wesson 686 Holster

The Smith and Wesson 686 revolver was designed to be open carried. It’s possible to conceal a few of the shorter barreled revolvers, but the larger guns are nearly impossible.

For the most part this post will focus on open carry holsters for the model 686. The type of holster that you purchase for this gun will largely depend on what you want to do with it.

A lot of people like to go hunting with their 686. It’s a lightweight solution chambered in a cartridge that people have been hunting deer with for a very long time.

With good shot placement at a relatively short distance a 6″ 686 can take down some of the largest game in North America. While hunting I typically prefer either a shoulder holster or drop leg holster. These types of holsters spread the weight around over more of your body. For every other scenario I like to have an outside the waistband holster.

Types of S&W 686 Holsters

Their are many types of holsters for the Smith & Wesson 686. The majority of people carry their S&W 686 in an OWB holster. An OWB holster is easily the most versatile for your revolver.

The types of holsters that are available for your 686 are inside waistband holster, outside waistband holster, shoulder holster and leg holster. All of these holsters have a fair share of advantages and disadvantages.

  • Inside Waistband- For the most part I would only recommend a IWB holster for 2-3″ revolvers. They sell holsters up to 4″ but these holsters tend to dig into your thigh. Don’t even try sitting down with a IWB 4″ revolver holster. The major advantage to the Inside Waistband holsters is that you can concealed carry with these. That’s very important in states that don’t currently have open carry laws.
  • Outside Waistband- The vast majority of people carry their 686 revolver in a outside the waistband holder. This is the type of holder that you traditionally think of while open carrying. This is the best all around versatile open carry solution.
  • Shoulder Holster- The shoulder holster is another great carry option. Shoulder holsters can actually be used for both open and concealed carry. Most people use this type of holster while hunting because it spreads the guns weight across your back. After walking in the woods all day a shoulder holster will save your back.

Final Verdict

For the majority of users the best 686 Holster is going to be the Galco Outdoorsman 6 inch holster or Galco’s 4 inch holster. The Smith and Wesson 686 is a fairly large revolver and it’s meant to be open carried.

This is the perfect holster for everyday carry or the occasional hunting trip. If you have the money to spend for a shoulder holster you can’t beat the Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster for your 686 revolver. The additional back support will make your hunting and camping trips even more enjoyable.

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