The nice man at Sportsman's Warehouse showed me this 686+ and let me put some snap caps in it and wring it out. The trigger was, as usual, perfect. Even though S&W now uses a frame-mounted firing pin like Ruger. The sights are nice target-style blade and ramp, but aren't so big that I'd worry about snagging on clothing. The cylinder isn't really that much bigger than my SP101's, but gives two extra shots. The grip is long, but most of that is from the grip itself, not the metal frame beneath. Badger Custom makes K/L frame boot grips that would cut the grip length substantially. The following picture is not Badger grips, but along the lines of what I want to do:
I also picked up a box of Buffalo Bore 158gr "Heavy" .357 Mag rounds, claiming 1475fps out of a 4" barrel, and their info on MidwayUSA lists velocity from a 3" S&W at 1398fps. That's 685ft/lbs of energy, which is a lot. The 2.5" gun would probably still register in the 1300s with this load. I would prefer the 3" gun, but if they can't get one, a 2.5" would be just fine. Oh, and for the bottom-feeder fans of the world, only 10mm Auto can come close to these energy levels--and only in 5" guns.
Even though I started shooting handguns with a Browning Hi-Power, I've had a thing for revolvers. I like my SP101 3", but I LOVED the 686+ 2.5". That cannon in a bellyband at 12:30 will be easy to hide, carry just as many rounds as an LCP, and have enough muscle to kill a bear. Or down an alien spaceship. Now to find 7-shot Bianchi speed strips, and maybe some 7-shot speedloaders for shooting in competition if I ever get back out there.