The author hoses down targets in Stage 12 of the…

The author hoses down targets in Stage 12 of the 2011 Texas Multi-Gun Championships

While traveling around the 3-Gun circuit this year, the one gun that got a lot of attention was my JP Enterprises rifle. It seems that there are two camps with serious shooters, those with a JP rifle and those who want a JP rifle.

It’s not that my JP-15 rifle is flashy or eye-catching. On the surface, it’s just another AR-15-style competition rifle. The only thing distinctive is the gray/blue DuraCoat finish and that’s kind of subdued. Even though some of the other JP rifles are very distinctive and cool looking, it’s not so much the looks that built JP Enterprises’ reputation—it’s the performance.

The JP team ranked first in the 2003 World 3-Gun Championship. L to R: Ricky Mannino, John Paul, Tommy Wong, and Joe Wong.

Take my rifle, for example. I have used it for an intensive season of 3-Gun shooting and probably had something like 5,000 rounds through the gun before I decided to mount a big 6-24x50mm Swarovski scope and test it for accuracy. The first five-shot, 100-yard group I fired using Federal match ammo with a 69-grain Sierra bullet measured 0.3 inches. The average of 30 five-shot groups with six different ammo products was 0.74 inches. This is one of the most accurate factory rifles I have tested in 30 years of my career. But keep in mind that this is a 3-Gun rifle built to go fast, not as a long-range ultra-precision rifle. This level of accuracy is remarkable.

JP Dedication

This is why serious competitors want JP rifles, because they perform at every level. One reason is because the company’s owner, John Paul, is not just a rifle manufacturer—he is a hardcore competition shooter himself. He knows what it takes to make a rifle perform and he takes a lot of pride in his products. Never one to rest on his accomplishments, he is always working to improve performance. For example, he and I just had an email exchange about the results I got with this rifle. He told me about a new rifle he had recently built to use in sniper competitions.

As he wrote: “I have a test sample PSC-11 rifle I’ve been working with, and shot my all-time personal record of 0.106 inches at 100 yards with a 77-grain SMK loaded with 24.5 grains of TAC, a Federal 205M and new Winchester. This is my long-range match load. I was breaking it in and it was erratic at first, but then the rifle settled in. I fired the second round of a group and thought it had shifted POI (point of impact), and I had enough other holes in this target that I couldn’t find it. When I fired the third round, the hole opened ever so slightly and I knew I was on it.

“I’ve had some groups in the sub-0.2-inch range, like in the 0.17- to 0.18-inch range, but never anything like this. I will probably never shoot another group like that in my life. This particular rifle has a 20-inch, medium-contour barrel and a Leupold 4.5-14X M4 scope with the H-27 reticle. I have it set up for the two-man team sniper matches for my secondary rifle.”

His level of “gun guy” dedication and passion does not compare. Is there any wonder why JP’s rifles are so coveted by top competitors? John Paul is a fixture at most of the big 3-Gun matches and he is often one of the top sponsors, putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak. For that matter, he is one of the top shooters as well. For example, he took first place in the Scoped Tactical Senior Division of the grueling 2011 Iron Man 3-Gun match.

JP History Lesson

John Paul poses with a 1st place trophy from the Shooting Industry Masters

John Paul is usually a moving target at these events, always working, talking to competitors, or shooting. But I managed to corner him at a recent 3-Gun match, where we sat down for a few minutes with a tape recorder. Here is a little bit of the road map that led him from a kid growing up in Minnesota to one of the top black rifle makers in the world.

“My love of shooting goes back to my father,” John told me. “When I was 10 or 11 years old, he enrolled me in the Junior Small-Bore Rifle club where we lived on the east side of St. Paul, Minnesota. He bought a Mossberg bolt-action .22 and put a receiver sight and a sling on it for me to use in matches. I soon discovered I had a knack for shooting.

“Then I was lucky enough to attend a military high school, and because of my background, I made the varsity rifle team as a freshman. That was typical three-position indoor rifle shooting, and it was really intense—two hours of practice every day after school and all day Saturday. It laid the foundation for my love of precision rifle shooting. I then went to the University of Notre Dame where I also participated on their ROTC rifle team.

“It wasn’t too long after I finished school that I realized I was pretty much unemployable in the conventional sense. I worked as a professional musician for a number of years back in the 1970s, playing keyboards for an inner-city rock band. Then I custom-painted motorcycles for a while. Like I said, totally unemployable. “I was always into shooting. I found a gun shop in the area that was for sale, so I decided to sell my house and buy this retail gun shop. I worked for the owner for six months, apprenticing as a gunsmith. I did a lot of custom work on bolt-action rifles, revolvers, semi-auto handguns. With all the shooting experience, I thought I knew a lot about guns, but taking over that shop made me realize I knew nothing. I owned it for four years before I felt I had mastered anything.

Load Comments