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There is nothing anywhere that says you can't give your players an heirloom weapon at any level. RAW? Maybe, but I'm pretty sure if memory serves me correctly the number one rule of DMing is ignore the rules when & where they get in your way.
This isn't carte blanche to be taken "over the top" with idiotic arguments (well in that case, I want my wizard to be d12 HD!), but used judiciously it makes for fantastic games. I've done countless games that players started off with an item they didn't fully understand and it unlocked with them.
Also, you can't argue RAW about heirloom weapons and starting at level 2, and then talk about how the "rules" constrain you with regards to player death.
Just play the game you like to. Players that like your style will stay, and the rest will kick rocks.