The Smith and Wesson (S&W) Model 586 is a six or seven shot double action revolver chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge. It will chamber and fire .38 Special cartridges, as the .357 Magnum was developed from the .38 Special. The magnum case is slightly longer (0.1 in) to prevent magnum rounds from being chambered and fired in handguns chambered for the .38 Special. The 586 has been available with 2½ in, 3 in, 4 in, 6 in, and 8⅜" in (64, 76, 102, 153, and 214 mm) barrel lengths as standard models and other barrel lengths either by special order from S & W's Performance Center custom shop, or acquired from or built by after-market gunsmiths.
The Model 586 uses S & W's L (medium) revolver frame, with a K-Frame sized grip mated to a larger diameter cylinder. During the 1980s, Smith & Wesson developed its L-Frame line of .357 Magnums: the Model 581, Model 586, Model 681 and Model 686. These Magnums had a major effect on both law enforcement and sporting markets. The 586 was introduced in 1980.