Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is the 1998 World War II film directed by Steven Spielberg that stars Tom Hanks as a US Army Ranger captain who leads a squad of men into Normandy to bring home a paratrooper from the 101st Airborne Division who had just lost three of his brothers in combat. The film was especially notable for its unflinching depiction of the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach.
The following weapons were used in the film Saving Private Ryan:
See the Discussion for more details on non-firearms weapons used in the film.
Rifles & Carbines
The M1 Garand is used by the majority of the U.S. soldiers seen in the film. Saving Private Ryan is also one of the few films that correctly depicts the easily identifiable "ping" sound the Garand makes after the last round is fired and the en bloc clip is ejected. In some scenes, soldiers can be seen holding their Garands with relative ease, making these Garands most likely lightweight prop versions.
Several paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division as well as other Airborne units carry the folding stock variant M1A1 Carbine.
The squad's sharpshooter, Private Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper), carries the sniper version of the M1903 Springfield, the M1903A4 Sniper Rifle. The differences include the deletion of the front sight, and the addition of a scope. Jackson is heard quoting religious scriptures before firing his weapon. There is also a notable scene in the film where Jackson shoots a German sniper through the sniper's own scope, a feat similar to one accomplished by Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock during the Vietnam War. However, in this film, the bullet drop at 400yds would make it impossible to clear all the scope lenses, while Hathcock was far closer to his target, as well as looking down at said target (Hathcock was on a hill, while the enemy sniper was at the base). Jackson clearly has trouble cycling the gun throughout the film due to him being a lefty and the gun being built for right-handed shooters.
During the bell tower sequence, Jackson's Unertl scope appears to be very off from where the bullets hit, likely because he didn't zero it when switching it with his other scope.
As common with the German forces as the M1 Garand is with the Americans, the Karabiner 98k bolt-action rifle is the standard-issue weapon of the German military. SS Grenadiers during the battle in Ramelle line up armed almost entirely with Kar98k rifles, including 'Steamboat Willie', who mortally wounds Cpt. Miller with his 98k rifle. Also note how most of the rifles lack the hooded sights and cleaning rods which usually indicates Russian captures.
Karabiner 98k Sniper
A Wehrmacht sniper is seen armed with a Karabiner 98k sniper rifle fitted with a Zeiss ZF42 scope with a rubber light blocking eye cover (which despite goof reports, is at proper eye relief with him resting his eye on it) and covered in makeshift burlap camouflage who mortally wounds PFC Adrian Caparzo (Vin Diesel) before being killed himself by Private Jackson (Barry Pepper). Jackson shoots the German sniper through his scope, a reference to a shot made by Carlos Norman Hathcock II (a legendary Marine Corps sniper) during the Vietnam War.
The M1A1 Thompson aka the "Tommy Gun" or "fast gun" is carried primarily by Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks). The Thompson is also used by other soldiers, notably Captain Fred Hamill (Ted Danson), to end a standoff between Miller's men and a group of German soldiers they had stumbled upon. The M1 Thompson was too expensive to produce by the Normandy invasion and the cheaper M1A1, which simply incorporated a fixed firing pin as part of the bolt, made it far easier an for mass production as well as less expensive. 50 round drum magazines were never issued by the United States Army, being too bulky and unreliable, and the M1A1 was in fact unable to even use a 50 round drum due to a cost-saving redesign of the magazine well. This fact is accurately represented through the movie, with the Thompsons always using 30-round "stick" magazines.
The MP40 is also used by German forces in the film, notably in the scene where Miller's squad stumbles upon a group of German soldiers, as well as during the defense of the bridge at Ramelle.
Machine Guns & Automatic Rifles
Browning Automatic Rifle M1918A2
As the squad's support gunner, Private First Class Richard Reiben (Edward Burns) carries an M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle or "B.A.R." as his main weapon. The B.A.R. Reiben carries is not his originally issued one, which he claims he lost during the start of the D-Day landing to keep from drowning, and has the bipod removed, making it more into an assault rifle instead of a Light Machine Gun. Further supporting this theory is how he fires it on the faster of the B.A.R.'s two full-auto fire modes, instead of the more efficient slow auto-fire used for support. Reports have said that, like the M1 Garands in the film, this B.A.R. was lightened for easier use by the actors, making it far easier to shoulder fire the weapon as an assault rifle. (Periods have been added to the B.A.R. abbreviations to make sure no one refers to the weapon incorrectly as a "Bar".)
The Browning M1919A4 or "Browning .30 caliber" machine gun is briefly seen being lugged by a soldier during the Omaha Beach scene. This machine gun is also among the weapons used by the defenders during the final defense at Ramelle. At Ramelle, one M1919A4 is seen being manned by an Airborne trooper in the church tower with Private Jackson and another is manned by Corporal Henderson (Max Martini) and Pvt. Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg). Both guns eventually run out of ammunition, their users being killed. Throughout the scene, the gun in the tower uses a disintegrating belt and Mellish's gun has a fabric belt.
Known by the Allies as "Hitler's Buzzsaw", the German MG42 was perhaps the deadliest machine gun of WWII. Its extreme high rate of fire is accurately portrayed in the film. Its most notable appearance is during the Omaha Beach sequence, being fired from bunkers and sandbag positions overlooking the beach. It is later seen when Miller and his squad encounter a German radar station.
During the final battle, SS Tiger Tanks (in reality mocked-up T34s) can be seen armed with MG34 Panzerlauf machine guns, mounted coaxially next to the main gun and in the bow of the hull next to the driver's compartment.
The M1911A1 pistol is seen in the hands of TSgt. Horvath (Tom Sizemore), Pvt. Jackson (Barry Pepper), and Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks), as well as other members of the squad. Horvath uses it to threaten PFC Richard Reiben (Edward Burns) when he threatens to abandon his squad, later throwing it during a melee scuffle in the final battle. Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) is seen firing it at one of the "Tiger" Tanks as he lies wounded on the bridge in one of the film's more memorable moments.
During the final assault in Ramelle, an SS Panzergrenadier can be seen using a Luger P08 pistol when facing off with TSgt. Horvath and is killed but still manages to wound him with it. The Luger P08 pistol was a very common second line service pistol, with the Walther P38 as the official front line issued sidearm in World War Two. The Luger was still being manufactured during World War Two and was commonly issued to Civilian Polizei as well as Military Police and as request pieces for any military officer at their discretion. There were huge numbers made in World War One and the handgun was in constant manufacture from the time of its initial offering until 1942, when all production switched to the P38. It was common to see Luger 08 Pistols in the hands of vehicle crewmen, crew served weapons, second line units, artillery units. It also ended up in the hands of many front line NCOs as well as officers, since it was still 'regulation' to carry it in the Wehrmacht. Note: there seems to be more photographic evidence of Waffen SS officers wielding the Luger P08 than the Regular army, which may attest to some 'politics' of the ordnance supply chain.
The M1A1 'Bazooka' is used throughout the film. It is first seen in the hands of a U.S. Army soldier under the command of Captain Hamill (Ted Danson). Later we see Private James F. Ryan (Matt Damon) use an M1A1 Bazooka to destroy a German half-track. This same Bazooka is later used by Horvath during the final battle to destroy a Marder III self-propelled gun and again in an attempt to destroy a "Tiger" tank, but the rocket is deflected off the tank's heavy armor.
During the final battle, one of the SS Grenadiers can be seen carrying a Raketenpanzerbüchse (RPzB) rocket launcher, better known as the Panzerschreck ("tank terror"), and fires on a group of retreating troops, sending one paratrooper through a glass window. Another Grenadier is seen with a Panzerschreck but is brought down by Ryan.
Mk 2 Hand Grenade
During the attack on the machine gun nests, the squad uses Mk 2 hand grenades to take out all but one of the Germans manning it, some of which throw the grenades back at them, though thankfully miss. Later, at the final battle in Ramelle, several Mk 2 hand grenades are tossed into a disabled German tank, killing the crew.
M7 Rifle Grenade Launcher with M9A1 Rifle Grenade
Model 24 Stielhandgranate
During the final battle of the film, Private Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg) and Corporal Henderson (Max Martini) get several Model 24 Stielhandgranates thrown at them while manning one of the M1919A4 machine guns. Thankfully the two are able to grab and toss the grenades clear before they detonate.
During the Omaha Beach scene, Doyle (Glenn Wrage) uses his M1 Flamethrower to clear one of the German pillboxes (which are modeled after German 'Schnabelstand' observation posts in Étretat, France.) overlooking the beach, turning the occupants into human torches who are picked off by other soldiers as they emerge, before they are ordered to let them burn. During the opening of the scene, a flamethrower operator gets hit in the napalm tank and gets blown up along with his fellow comrades around him.
M1A1 Bangalore Torpedo
Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) aids some soldiers in employing M1A1 Bangalore Torpedos to clear the barbed wire seawall (which would have actually been made of concrete, wood timbers, and pebbles). This is an homage to Gen. Norman "Dutch" Cota fearlessly encouraged his men to use the Bangalores to clear the blocking seawall.
A Flak 38 is crewed by several SS Grenadiers during the final battle at Ramelle and delivers devastating 20mm flak rounds on U.S. paratroopers.
During the final battle at Ramelle, Private Ryan (Matt Damon) and Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) arm 60mm M2 Mortar rounds by banging them against the steel launching base of the mortar tube and throw them like hand grenades at advancing SS soldiers, scoring several kills. While this is possible, they are banging the wrong end; to use the mortar shells in the way they did, they would have to slam the other end against it. This scene is based on the real life tactics of Medal of Honor winner Charles "Commando" Kelly, who really used 60mm mortar shells as grenades during a firefight in Italy.