This is a good question, and we know that Marlin did offer the soft steel barrels at a discounted price after 1905 with the Grade "B" guns that were marked "For Black Powder" on the side of the barrel where the Special Smokeless Steel marking would be located. The "B" grade guns sold for about $3.15 less than the SSS guns of the same style. The question is, did Marlin have a stock pile of these soft steel barrels left over from 1894 when the SSS barrels were introduced in 1895. And, to get rid of them, did they begin to offer the less expensive barrels as a cost saving manuver? Unfortunately, we probably will never know if these soft steel barrels were offered for sale prior to 1905, and only SSS barrels available. There is nothing in the catalogs to help us out in this question until 1905.
To confuse things further, Brophy states only the Model 1893, 1895 and Model 27 barrels were marked with the SSS marking. But, I did see a Model 1897 with a Special Smokeless Steel barrel one time. It was a special order gun with a blued receiver as well. So, Marlin did make things not offered in the catalogs upon special order. With Marin's, it is "never say never.........."
Due to the increasing cost of ammunition, there be no warning shot!
The growing federal deficit = generational slavery to the national debt.