I picked up a 686-4 a while back that had had the barrel damaged do to improper removal of a squib round. I got it pretty cheap nd figured it would make a nice project over the winter.
The 6" barrel was junk, the rear sight was missing along with a few other misc screws. I replaced the barrel with a 681 performance center 4" barrel from Numrich(which had no sight either). I had to fit the barrel after installation to gain the correct cylinder gap(the cylinder wouldn't close without excessive effort) I also installed reduced power springs for a lighter trigger and Hogue wood monogrips. I had to make my own front sight and also made my own fixed rear sight. I carved them both out of some Delrin (plastic) I had around just to see if I could do it and plan on replicating them out of stainless steel. I might even cut the front sight off the old barrel and re-machine it for my purposes.
I have had it to the range and it shoots pretty well. I am waiting on some glass bead media(ultra fine) to show up that I ordered so I can obtain the look I really want.
Speaking of bead blasting ...would it be possible to bead blast hard crome without damaging the plating? I have another project that I'm working on and I would like to mellow down the shiny chrome to a more mellow matte.
I'll post some pics of the Smith, if there any interests...
Sounds like quite a project - more than I would tackle.
On the plus side:
1). the dash 4 is considered by most to be the best L frame 357.
2). the 4" barrel balances and handles better, and is more desired by most.
Sure looks good to me. Good luck with your projects. :smt1099