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These are usually a more portable—and a more easily concealed—version of conventional sporting guns, commonly a single or double-barrelled shotgun based on the relatively affordable Belgian leClercq action.
In this and in similar designs, a folding shotgun with a modest barrel length can be made to fold back until it lies beneath the stock and, thus, easily carried under a coat.
An alternative form is in effect a very long-barrelled pistol fitted with a detachable, sometimes called "take-down", or folding skeleton stock, though any sporting weapon that requires assembly has obvious drawbacks in the field.
In purely practical terms, the distinction is that cane guns, far more costly to produce and, generally speaking, an affectation, ostensibly carried by gentlemen who wished, at all times, to be able to take "targets of opportunity", were a curio, talking point or a concealed offensive weapon, one that might easily escape detection unless closely examined. In addition to gentleman's canes, guns have been concealed in umbrellas, parasols and walking staffs.
By contrast, a poacher's gun is very obviously a weapon, albeit one easily concealed by those legitimately going about in the countryside unarmed, by those who carried a gun for ad hoc hunting for the pot or for self defense, as opposed to a far-less-portable, pure-game gun, though these cross into the survival category.
Cane guns are now very rare and difficult to find, since most fall foul of legislation prohibiting concealed weapons, and period examples, where permitted, are, generally speaking, in the hands of private collectors and museums.
Modern, cartridge-type cane guns are usually fitted to fire large, low-pressure (black powder or equivalent) handgun ammunition or shotgun cartridges between .410 like the 12-gauge, both of which are well suited in a weapon that is effectively just a barrel with integrated chamber, a manual ejection, a detachable firing mechanism, a rudimentary grip and, in some cases, even more rudimentary sights.
Other types of cane guns have been produced as air weapons, generally using some form of detachable pressurized air reservoir (a pneumatic air weapon) in the form of a flask, or integrated into the form of a more generously proportioned stick, such as a traditional shillelagh. Some are effectively dart-firing blowpipes, which are far easier to disguise being little more than a hollow tube.
Cane guns have an abiding place in spy culture; a famous example appearing in Ian Fleming's 1953 novel, Casino Royale, in which James Bond is threatened with one during his contest at the gaming table with Le Chiffre. This incident is allegedly based on the covert use of cane guns by Zionist Jews in Palestine in 1948.
According to the ATF cane guns, sword guns, and umbrella guns are classified as concealed weapons and are illegal to possess unless you are a member of the secret service or a collector of antiques. 
- "The Belgian Leclercq folding poacher's gun explained - hlebooks.com". forums.gunboards.com. Retrieved Jan 13, 2020.
- BBC Antiques Roadshow - April 28, 2013
- Berry, Charlie (July 24, 2014). "Is it a cane? No, it's a shotgun! James Bond-like weapon disguised as walking stick surrendered to GMP". Mancunian Matters. mancunianmatters.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
- "The Collection". www.beemans.net. Retrieved Jan 13, 2020.
- Fleming, R. S. (Apr 23, 2014). "Kate Tattersall Adventures". Kate Tattersall Adventures. Retrieved Jan 13, 2020.
- "Firearms - Guides - Importation & Verification of Firearms - National Firearms Act Definitions - Any Other Weapon | Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives". www.atf.gov. Retrieved 2019-12-17.