There was some conjecture a few years back about the really hot, like 125 grainers, with fast powders cutting into the top strap. You'd have to shoot a lot of them to do real damage. Smith, in fact, is putting plates above the barrel on the top strap to prevent this on some models now.
If I had my druthers, I'd use the old hollow base wadcutter loaded backwards and a medium stiff load of Unique but I've been brainwashed by Ayoob and a few legal beagles into thinking that if I load something to shoot someone with it would be bad as I had wanted to "really" maim them. I'll stick with nice safe factory stuff like the powerball, hydrashock (got a buy on 1000 of the bullets a few years ago) or other like stuff.
If you get the chance, shoot a groundhog @ about 25 yards with a Federal 158 gr. Hyrda-Shock, .357. See if you think any human would live thru that, it's ugly, really ugly. My Smith Mod. 65 is stoked full of these.
There was a problem with the K-frame S&W 19 where the barrel was cracking at the bottom flat near the end of the cylinder. It was happening much more on guns that were fed 125gr full magnum loads than guns that were fed the 158 gr. It was decided that the SHORTER, lighter 125 grain bullets were not long enough to bridge the casing to the barrel lip. They were almost rattling into the barrel, and were cracking the weak point - the flat. The guns without the flat stopped this, but they do it with an increase in strength alone, the cause and stresses remain the same.
For personal protection, the first posters have good suggestions. The 686 is a very well made, durable firearm. You have to consider you circumstances. I have actually fired pistols in the dark, both indoors and out. Many of the .357 loads put about a 2 ft ball of white fire out the barrel. At night, that will likely make you blind for a few seconds. I went to the Federals in .38 for the snub nose and .38 plus P for the 4 inch. Both have a smaller, softer orange ball of flame that will allow you to have vision for the 2nd shot if needed. Whatever works for you, test it in the worst conditions possible. The bad part is how expensive premium ammo has gotten. It is tough to spend $40 on a box of ammo to try, especially if you end up not liking it. I figure my life is worth the investment. Good Luck