Visiting gun shows, one can sometimes see small calibre revolvers (most often 7 mm Lefaucheux-type), fitted with an extremely long barrel (More than 18 cm), with the front sight placed amidlenght instead of at the muzzle.

Most of the time, the portion of bore ahead of the front sight is uncalibrated and smooth.

Although all made at Liège, those guns bear no proof marks at all.

Do you know why?

Those guns are in fact "unsold items". They were originally made for export to Austria Hungary only. However, in an attempt to protect the home industry, the authorities had edited a law that said that no revolver could be imported unless its barrel had a minimum length of 18 cm.

Such a length on a pocket revolver, made its use and concealing quite uncomfortable.

However, the law concerned only custom import formalities, and was not applicable anymore once the guns had been imported.

So, together with their clients, the Liège gunmakers solved the problem by making their barrels longer but positioning the front sight in the middle. The guns were then sent "in the white" to the importers, who had them proofed in Ulm and then cut the barrels one cm ahead of the front sight prior to finish them.

Regarding single-shot pistols, the same law stipulated that they could only be imported a ratio of one barrel for every two pistols. That problem was solved by making barrels of twice the normal length, threaded at both ends, and to fit at each end...a pistol. The client had nothing else to do but cut the barrel in the middle to obtain a pair of identical or even different pistols.

Smart guys, those Liège gunmakers...