Foote was born on the 23rd of August, 1937 in Lovell, Wyoming. Since his teenage years, Foote had a keen interest in firearms and built his first rifle at age 14. After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1962, Foote got a job working as a test engineer for SR-71 Blackbird aircraft at Pratt and Whitney.
Later Foote got a job at AVCO Ordnance and developed rocket-powered firearms similar to the Gyrojet pistol, but details surrounding Foote's designs during this time are scarce. One of his weapons was a 40mm shoulder-fired weapon with a drum magazine and another was a 16mm handgun.
In 1966 he joined TRW and met Eugene Stoner and worked with him on a 25mm Bushmaster gun, as well as other designs. He briefly left TRW to work with Colt on a successor to the M16 series of rifles, but he soon rejoined TRW and worked there with Stoner until the plant closed in 1970, after which he worked at Military Armament Corporation with Gordon B. Ingram and Maxwell G. Atchisson, both of whom he became good friends with. At MAC, he invented a rifle called the FAC-70 (Foote Automatic Carbine) and attempted to strike a deal with Sterling Armaments Corporation in England to manufacture his rifle, but nothing became of this, despite Sterling showing great interest in the weapon. Shortly afterwards, MAC experienced financial problems and was forced to close.
After MAC closed, Foote set up the U.S. Armament Corporation. Here, he invented a .22 conversion for the M16 rifle, which was adopted by the US Army as the M261. He also tried again to strike a deal with Sterling for his FAC-70 rifle, but Sterling demanded production blueprints, which Foote could not provide since his rifles were all hand-made. He did, however, collaborate with Sterling to produce the Foote-Sterling pistol, which was a downscaled semi-automatic .22 version of the Sterling L2A3. Only about a hundred were made.
Later in his life, Foote set up the J.P. Foote Company, which did not produce firearms.
Foote, 81 years old as of 2018, is retired and enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren. He is very active and helps out part time at Ready Hardware and U-Haul at Shallowford in Marietta, Georgia.
- MP61 - A very simple and cheap submachine gun chambered for .45 ACP. Only one prototype was ever made.
- MP63 - Another .45 ACP submachine gun.
- MG69 - An inexpensive belt-fed light machine gun that incorporated a unique feed mechanism. Only ever made as a prototype.
- MP970 - Another cheap and simple submachine gun, chambered for 9x19mm Parabellum. It was made of stamped metal sheets and was only ever made as a prototype.
- R68 Assault Rifle - A cheap, gas-operated 5.56mm assault rifle that had ambidextrous qualities. It was designed in 1968.
- FAC-70 Carbine - A 5.56mm assault rifle hand-built by Foote in 1970. Foote attempted to find a manufacturer for the weapon but was unable to.
- FAS-173 - A fully-automatic, 12 gauge assault shotgun built only as a prototype.
- Foote-Ingram Pistol - An improved version of Gordon B. Ingram's MAC-10 submachine gun.
- Encom - A series of small "assault carbines" that were available in a variety of calibers. They were also marketed under the name "Enfield America". About 5000 were made.
- Foote-Sterling Mk.22 - A semi-automatic .22 reproduction of the Sterling submachine gun, built about 3/4 of the original size. About 100 were made.
- Cobray Terminator - A single-shot slam-fire shotgun chambered for 12 gauge rounds. It was made for Wayne Daniel's SWD company. About 1452 Terminator shotguns were made.