A hundred years ago, live pigeon shooting was a huge pastime in the U.S. People participated in shoots throughout the country, and the top shots traveled the country–and the world–competing and winning huge amounts of prize money.
Gunmakers responded to this popularity by building shotguns for this sport. Here’s the one that L.C. Smith offered from 1893-1913. It’s a Pigeon grade, and it looks like it’s in excellent original condition. I have to say, I really like it — especially the damascus bbls and the blush of color-case hardening on the action. I love how L.C. Smith finished the fences, too, as well as the overall shape of the stock. Very nice.
According to the L.C. Smith collector’s website:
“Only 1,397 Pigeon Guns were produced from 1893 through 1913 including four 10 gauge, 1,350 12 gauge, 23 16 gauge, and 20 20 gauge guns. Automatic ejectors were fitted to 883 guns. The catalog (1900) stated: “Our Pigeon Gun is an innovation. Appreciating that there is a demand for a very quick shooting gun, we deliver this grade. The straight grip admits the most rapid work possible and supplies a want long felt by many sportsmen. They are specially adapted to stand the tremendous strain of many heavy loads of nitro powder.” The stock was said to be: “A choice piece of French walnut, beautifully figured. The richness of the color in these finer stocks is superb. They are all finished in oil equal to the best pianos and consequently please the most exacting . . .” Stocks were not straight. could be ordered with a pistol grip and a Monte Carlo. Pigeon Nitro Steel barrels were available in 12 and 16 gauges, and Chainette Damascus barrels were available in 10, 12, and 16 gauges. Twenty gauge guns were available starting in 1907. The 20 gauge guns were only made with Pigeon Nitro Steel barrels. The catalog said: “The engraving is
handsome and very appropriate for a gun of this character. On one lock plate is engraved with a pigeon in full flight, on the other is a blue rock, and on the extension rib a pigeon in his native home. You will always find an artistic and appropriate finish on Smith Guns . . .” A precious metal bar was inlaid across the rib near the engraved pigeon. Engraved forward of the bar is HUNTER ARMS CO., MAKERS FULTON N.Y. Lightweight guns were available in 12, 16, and 20 gauges, and the Hunter One-Trigger was an option for about $25. The price increased from $125 at the start of production to $150 in 1898, but it dropped to $110 by 1912.”
L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun: A marvelous example of the Damascus art. This was a real shooter’s gun, well maintained and ready to make friends with some dogs again. Price: $2,899.99
Caliber: 12 Gauge
Chambers: 2-3/4 Inches
Metal Condition: Good. Very pretty damascus pattern. Fine grouse and partridge engravings are all very sharp.
Wood Condition: Good. A few shallow scratches and dents. Fineline checkering is quite flat and worn indicative of a a tool gun carried in the hunting field.
Bore Condition: Bright and serviceable
Barrels: 30 Inches
Triggers: Double triggers.
Stock: Prince of Wales pistol grip walnut
14-3/8 Inch LOP to front trigger
Fore End: Matching walnut splinter
Butt Pad: Black plate.
Weight: 8 Lb – 6 Oz.
Sights: Solid rib with gold bead
Chokes: Measures Full and Full