Nitro steel was introduced in 1898 for the No. 3 and Pigeon and later the No. 4 and No. 5.
If Fred's Pigeon gun now has Nitro steel barrels, it is very likely they were a replacement.
June 22, 1895 Sporting Life
How the L. C. Smith Gun Game to be the Staple Article It Now Is In Sportsmen's Circles - History of Its Rise and Progress.
Another grade of gun which the Hunter Arms Company placed on the market, through the effort and study of Harvey McMurchy, is the L. C. Smith “Pigeon Gun.” Ever ready to recognize the wants of the trap-shooter they brought out this last year a new grade of this celebrated gun. This grade, like the others of this company, combines the strength and durability features that made their first hammerless gun so popular. The barrels on this new gun are the new Crown steel barrels, which are made expressly to their order and are harder than Damascus; also stronger, which makes them very popular among sportsmen. The metal is extra thick at the breech and of good strength at the muzzle, being especially adapted to stand the tremendous strain of many excessive loads of Nitro powder which has proven so disastrous to guns of other makes. This pigeon gun is strictly a high grade, made at a very reasonable price. The grip is made straight regularly, but can be made half, three quarters, or full pistol grip, if so ordered. The engraving is appropriate to a gun of this character and is of neat design and finish. The price of this pigeon gun is listed at $125, and with ejector principle $150.
Hunter Arms ads in Sporting Life for 1896 & 1897 list Crown but not Nitro steel barrels
Sporting Life Feb. 26, 1898
The Hunter Arms Company, of Fulton, N. Y., makers of the L. C. Smith gun, have made a somewhat radical change in their guns recently. The following was received, which is being sent out to the trade:
Fulton, N. Y., Feb. 10. Our motto, “We lead, others follow,” is again to be brought prominently before the public. After seriously considering the demands of the shooters we have concluded to make the following changes in the L.C. Smith guns for 1898.
Our famous Crown Steel barrels will now be put on our No. 2, $80 list gun regularly, with an option on the Damascus if preferred. After years of use on our No. 3 guns, we can cheerfully say that our Crown Steel barrels are a decided success in every way. In addition to this very important change we now offer you an entirely new design in engraving on this grade. It is neat and in keeping with a gun of this description. Our policy is always to improve our product whenever and wherever we can, hence instead of reducing our price on the No. 2 gun we have greatly improved its quality, and offer our patrons a vastly superior gun at former price.
In regard to our No. 3 gun, $100 list, we come to you with something entirely new in gun barrels called Nitro steel. For months and months we have been testing these barrels to fully demonstrate to ourselves their qualities, and the result is most satisfactory. This Nitro steel comes the nearest to the Whitworth fluid steel of any gun barrel ever offered to the trade. This statement expresses fully the status of our nitro steel, and in offering these new barrels you may rest assured we do so only after being fully convinced as to their superior quality.
Both Crown and Nitro steel barrels will have our trademark stamped on them. In this mark you have our guarantee that they are genuine, and just what we represent them to be.