And yes, this story does involve a restaurant.
I've only been carrying a couple years, and I make no claim of being an expert. In fact, the more I study and learn, the more I realize how much I don't know. Therefore, sometimes the best contribution I can make to the forum is to just SU (<--- sanitized version). But I have tried to make up for lost time by hitting it hard, researching thousands of hours, and trying numerous carry methods to find out the benefits of each.
Early on, I learned the impressive concealability of the SmartCarry, and utilized it often. I experimented some with other forms of carry since I knew I had a lot to learn. I picked up different types of holsters and would casually try them out, but primarily stayed with the SC.
Then I began to realize the limitations of the SC while driving... that led to a dedicated car gun, which I eventually abandonded due to not having a safe in the car. A better alternative for me was to pocket-carry a .357, transition it to a holster between the front seats before leaving the garage, then transition it back to the pocket once I arrived at my destination.
Several months ago, I sensed an urgent need to increase my weapon accessibility, when possible, during every situation, but especially when driving or out in public. Not wanting to abandon my desire to always have a gun available to either hand, and sometimes not being able to conceal my .45 in a shoulder holster, sometimes the best option was to add a 3rd smaller gun in a shoulder holster. This was primarily for carjackers when I was driving my wife's vehicle (thus no gun between the seats since they are separated).
I have also felt a more urgent need to be armed with more than the minimum. As I've said before, if anything happens while either I'm out alone, or out with the family, whatever I have on me is all I'll have to help end the fight. I had a routine workplace reassignment several months back, so I'm by myself most of the time. If anything happens, it will be safe to assume there will be no LEO's around, nor any friendlies. It will be me and my gear, against whomever. For those who think I'm paranoid, I'll suggest they probably haven't been reading the St. Louis papers, and I'll leave it at that.
So due to random violence on the increase here, plus my desire to learn to utilize different carry practices, plus my sense of needing to be more heavily armed than the bare minimum, I've been viewing every opportunity out with the family as a way to test more gear and carry practices. I'm not going to say what I sometimes carry. That'll save a few posts from people (not from St. Louis, mind you) telling me none of that is necessary, and how safe life is, and how the odds are against anything happening. I could fill a forum with examples counter to such "advice", but I won't waste my time or yours.
Note: I watched a news story last week which showed video of a shooting here in St. Louis. There was a group of people gathered outside some store. Some words were said, and one guy pulls out two guns, one in each hand, that he had in his waistband. He starts chasing a guy, and 9 seconds after pulling out his guns, he begins shooting. An innocent bystander is killed, but the intended victim gets away. The shooter is not charged with murder because he "didn't intent to kill" the one who actually died. The shooter was charged with either negligent homicide or manslaughter, or something like that, but not murder.
After showing the video, the news channel interviewed a retired lawyer, perhaps a retired prosecutor but I don't recall exactly. His exact words: "Nobody carries two guns unless they intend to use them." I realize that statement can be refuted, and would be refuted in any defense. But my point is that it would HAVE to be refuted since if this is an experienced lawyer's opinion, many/most/all of the jurors would likely feel the same way, especially since the prosecuting lawyer would do his/her best to eliminate all the CCW holders and gun owners from the jury.
I said all that to acknowledge the possible repercussions of carrying multiple weapons. Having acknowledged it, I will not increase my chances of dying, or of not being able to defend my family, because of what some lawyer MIGHT say, in a defense that MIGHT happen, over a self-defense shooting that MIGHT occur. For those that strictly advocate carrying the minimum possible, that may be fine for you, but I'm not going that route.
The night of the event:
We were invited by a close friend of my wife to the grand opening of a new Chinese restaurant. (For those of you in the area, it's across the parking lot from the Bass Pro Shop in St. Charles, just off of I-70 and 5th street. Cheap prices, lots of choices: buffet if you want for $6.50, otherwise 4.75 for lunch, maybe $8.50? buffet on Sundays.)
Anyway, as I was gearing up for the night, I realized there was a chance I'd be outed. We hadn't seen this friend for some time, and I expected at least a hug or two. Among my carry options I chose was the Truss shoulder holster.
My cover shirt chosen for that night was, by sheer accident, the best cover shirt I own. The material is course, tightly woven wool, dark black with brown, and is a full 1/8" thick minimum everywhere. It is thick and stiff. I did sense I was taking a chance with it, but I was still pushing the envelope of what I could carry undetected.
As soon as we entered the restaurant, the friend comes at me for a hug. So like I've learned here, I went low, she went high, no problems. I could do that all night and not be detected.
<insert about 90 minutes of eating, and 3,000+ calories here>
At some point I'm standing up talking someone, and the friend comes up behind me, lightly puts her hand in the middle of my back sqarely on the shoulder holster wrapped around my chest, and chats with me just a bit. I notice no change in her facial expression nor any hint she felt through the coarse material. We finish up, say our extended goodbye's, and waddle out to the vehicle.
We get home and are sitting on the couch. All of a sudden my wife is feeling me all over my chest area.
Her, as she feels the Truss wrapped around me: "What is THAT?"
Me: I showed her, then asked why she asked.
Her: "XXXXX asked me what you had on underneath your shirt. I told her I had NO idea." (True statement.)
So I was busted. Apparently there is a limit to what I can conceal. In such a situation (and I've been in many similar close encounters in the past year, just no one placed their hand on my back), it appears concealing around the waist would be more discrete, or perhaps I need to try the Deep Concealment shoulder holster (thinner material, might be missed or mistaken for a tight t-shirt).
I don't know if the wife later confirmed with our friend what I was wearing. It doesn't much matter if she did or didn't. Next time we're around her, I won't wear a shoulder holster. I don't think she'll be feeling around my waist or lower, so I should still be able to be discrete.
First time I was noticed carrying (or noticed something was out of the ordinary), and I was really disappointed. I think I may go back to IWB for situations like that, and as far as being in a vehicle not my own, maybe just try to make sure I can quickly access a weapon around my waist.
Possible repercussions of the event: she or her significant other may request I not carry over at their house. Doing so would leave my family depending on my H2H skills if anything happend since I don't think they own any guns. Maybe I'll be surprised someday, but they don't seem like gun people.
Another possible repercussion is word may get around in that circle of friends, with the same possible issue as above: either I won't be invited along with the family, or someone may ask me to be unarmed. But I still have options. One being in another year, my daughter can legally carry. Until then, I'll just play dumb and innocent. And conceal better.
I'm not going to stop carrying multiple guns. I'm not going to stop experimenting with different carry methods to find what works the best. I'm not going to lower my readiness for fear of being discovered. Oh, and the restaurant was not posted.
Well, time to gear up for another day and another set of challenges... and maybe another visit to the funshop(s).