Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

S&W 686 US Customs Model

Posted by Gunner on December 8, 2006

This is a neat S&W 686 in a limited edition made in 1988 for the Customs Service. They are marked CS-1. It has a round butt, 3 inch barrel and a darker brushed finish than is usual. I really like S&W revolvers before they started putting all the lawyer required frame locks etc. Anyway, the balance with the 3 inch barrel is really good. Accuracy is what you would expect from a quality revolver. The L Frame is a little large for deep concealment unlike the J frames but it fits nicely in an IWB holster or a traditional belt holster such as those made by Milt Sparks.
The weight of the L frame makes shooting full house 357’s comfortable to shoot. To me this is a perfect revolver for daily carry when you want the power of the 357 magnum load. The three inch barrel doesn’t seem like it would be that different from the four inch model but in this gun it does make a great deal of difference. Of course this gun will stand up to a lifetime of 357’s without a problem. The trigger is good but could stand a little TLC from a gunsmith. I’m spoiled by shooting the older S&W revolvers that had such wonderful triggers. Shooting groups of 2 inches at 25 yards is not a problem at all. The L frames have always been very accurate guns. From time to time you can find one of these models on or Gunsamerica. Prices have gone up considerably with some sellers asking as much as $600! Be patient you can find one at a more reasonable $400. They are well worth that price:-)


5 Responses to “S&W 686 US Customs Model”

  1. Jack Parsons said


    The CS-1 was made for the U. S. Customs Service, thus the designation “CS”. It was the standard issue side arm in the late 1980’s. They were made in 3″ and 4″ versions. Although magnum ammo was sometimes carried, the norm was to use +p 38 special ammo. You may see the letter “M” near the CS-1 marking. This denotes a “modified” weapon. I believe the initial guns were made to extremely tight tolerances at the request of the Customs Service. Unfortunately, it was learned that after dozens of shots were fired from the gun without cleaning (such as is typical at the range when qualifying), fouling would make they cylinder hard to turn. The guns were returned to S&W to be set at normal factory tolerances.

  2. Rick Joy said

    Had one of the first 3″ Cs-1’s issued to me summer of 87′ while working for US Customs in Long Beach, Ca. Swapped the round butt pachmayers for a dark wood Hogue mono grip. Issued load at the time was the 110 grain .38 Spl. “Treasury Load”. Traded the 3″ for a 4″ when I transfered to the Mexican border a year later, and later was able to purchase the 4″ duty weapon when Customs transitioned to the S&W 6906. Years later was able to purchase another 3″ model after transfering to Houston, Tx. and again swapped out grips for, you guessed it, Hogue dark wood mono grips. I can confirm early cylinder binding due to tight tolerances. (Request do NOT publish my Email address)

  3. Gunner said

    I emailed you Rick. Thanks for the comment and information—I appreciate it!

  4. Brenda said

    Current valuation for a 686 U.S. CUSTOMS 3″ NEAR MINT CONDITION? Original box and paperwork, Hogue rubber grips.

  5. Gunner said


    A lot depends on what part of the country you live in. Values can vary a good deal. My best estimate would be $500 upwards to $600 in that condition with box and paperwork.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: