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Dates to 1984, 2 1/2" barrel round butt L frame. The M stamp usually designates a factory recall revolver but I cannot find anything relating to that... Nice "no-dash" 686, enjoy that beast!
You are correct. All 581, 586, 681 and 686 no dash and dash ones were recalled for an issue where firing .357 magnum ammo could possibly cause the cylinder to bind. It was possible for the primer to flow back into the firing pin hole and lock the gun up. The “M” stamp signifies that the gun has had the modification done to fix the issue. I believe the fix was to replace the hammer nose (firing pin) and the hammer nose bushing.
 

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You are correct. All 581, 586, 681 and 686 no dash and dash ones were recalled for an issue where firing .357 magnum ammo could possibly cause the cylinder to bind. It was possible for the primer to flow back into the firing pin hole and lock the gun up. The “M” stamp signifies that the gun has had the modification done to fix the issue. I believe the fix was to replace the hammer nose (firing pin) and the hammer nose bushing.
This is spot on.
 

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Good looking but odd bird you have there...

It's definitely a 3", for those uncertain -- no doubt about that. There are pre-lock, non-CS-1 3" L-frames out there, but not that date to the '80s M-stamp generation that I'm aware of.

Definitely an '80s/early '90s frame; has the old-style cylinder lug and extractor; flash chromed trigger and hammer, too, which S&W largely did away with on non-Performance Center guns by the mid-'90s.

But the barrel is the real curiosity. Adjustable sight L-frames of the vintage this frame and its stamps indicate didn't have a visibly pinned, easily replaced Baughman ramp that this one does, nor the large lettering for the caliber marking -- those changes came in the late-'90s to early-'00s.

Suspect you have a 80's era L-frame frame (either round butt or square cut to round) wedded to a later era 3" barrel.

In other words, it's a barrel swap. Not 100%, but pretty sure...
 

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Nice revolver, but the “.357” markings on the barrel are interesting. I’m am by no means a revolver expert, but the etching looks more like recent releases. I looked at a few photos on line and older S&W’s had smaller, less “bold” barrel markings. I wonder if this could be a newer barrel on a no-dash frame. Just curious.

Note: I just saw the post above mine....didn’t see it until I posted mine.
 

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"AEZ" prefix serial number dates it to 1984. The Customs revolvers were produced starting in 1988.
My guess and guess is the key word in this statement... the OP has a 1984 686 no-dash that at some point in it's life had the barrel replaced. Easy to see from the roll marks and front sight base, much later barrel.

Edit: Posted after the above responses... adding nothing to the conversation.
 

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Not an expert but that is a Customs Service revolver as noted by Spokes. The 2M stamping in the yoke area indicates it was a Customs Service revolver and not an overrun that was sold to the civilian market, which only has the M.

Found this thread interesting http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-revolvers-1980-present/231410-us-customs-service-686-cs-1-a.html
You might be confusing the gun pics SparkyAZ posted with the ones posted in the OP by blamo.

SparkyAZ's is definitely a CS-1; blamo's is not, and Spokes was referencing blamo's.

All 80's era L-frames with the factory recall "M" fix -- hammer nose and bushing -- have the M stamp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow, I'm constantly blown away and humbled by all the knowledge my fellow addicts have. Thank you.

Doing some research myself last night after posting, the barrel markings on mine were really confusing. It would make sense to me that it's an '80s frame with a newer barrel. Maybe I'll pony up for a S&W letter to see how it started its life.

Can't wait to get it out and shoot it. Really appreciate everyone educating me.
 

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Great score . These are great gats . It'll serve you well . 3 inchers seem to bring a little more , also being a no-dash pre lock is desirable . These just feel good in the hand and point extremely well . Again , nice score .
 
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