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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.
M1 Garand semiautomatic Rifle with leather M1917 sling - .30-06
An M1 Garand prop rifle with M1 bayonet used in the film during the D-Day scene. The butt still has sand stuck in it from the beach.
This image of a soldier during the landing on Omaha Beach shows that the rifle seen here are clearly not genuine 9 1/2lb Garands and simple light weight replicas.
PING! Private Adrian Caparzo (Vin Diesel
) fires his M1 Garand.
Mellish and Caparzo approach a German bunker on Omaha Beach with their M1 Garands.
Mellish fires his M1 Garand at a fleeing German. The rifle makes the distinct PING sound but you can clearly see it just jammed.
"Look! I washed for supper!" A soldier of low morals holds an M1 Garand with cuts in the stock for an ammo pouch to sling through like an M1 Carbine. This is a strange stock for a Garand. Also note how he can easily hold it with one hand since it is lighter than a real Garand.
Caparzo, Mellish and Cpl. Timothy Upham (Jeremy Davies
) with their M1 Garands.
Cpt. Miller (Tom Hanks
) pulls the trigger groupings out of the M1 Garands marking dead G.I. graves so they are rendered useless should any Germans try to capture them.
A soldier loads up his M1 Garand before the battle in Ramelle.
Mellish fires his M1 Garand and then claims it jams, despite the fact it is clearly still in battery.
PING! Pvt. James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon
) firing his M1 Garand.
Upham holds his M1 Garand on a group of fleeing German soldiers including Steamboat Willie. Note how his hand is on the bolt handle, which could result in a finger pinch. Also note how he rests his thumb on the receiver tang, which could result in "shooter's thumb", getting whacked in the nose by your thumb knuckle due to the recoil.
The M1 Carbine appears in the film as the main weapon of TSgt. Mike Horvath (Tom Sizemore). It is fitted with a double magazine pouch strapped to the butt stock.
TSgt. Horvath firing his M1 Carbine.
TSgt. Horvath with his M1 Carbine.
TSgt. Horvath racks the bolt on his M1 Carbine before facing the machine gun nest.
TSgt. Horvath with his M1 Carbine.
Several troopers with the 101st Airborne Division as well as other Airborne units carry the folding stock variant M1A1 Carbine.
Paratrooper M1A1 Carbine - .30 Carbine.
The 101st paratrooper kills a tank crewman with his M1A1 Carbine and then holds the hatch open with it. (Close inspection reveals the hatch appears to be made of lightweight material and easy to move).
The squad's sharpshooter, Private Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper), carries the sniper version of the Springfield 1903, the 1903A4 bolt-action 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.
Springfield 1903A4 sniper variant with M84 scope - .30-06
Pvt. Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper
) aims his Springfield 1903A4.
Pvt. Jackson fires his 1903A4.
Jackson fits an 8x Unertl scope on his 1903A4 to face the German sniper (although he doesn't zero it to the gun, which would make his incredible shot even more impossible). Here, he is seen adjusting his scope for elevation, even though he claims it is for windage. Also, his hand is the only thing moving, the front of the scope never twists.
Jackson takes aim at the sniper with his 1903A4.
Jackson with his 1903A4 during the standoff. Note that he's using a different scope than the 8x Unertl he uses in most other scenes.
Cpl. Upham looks through Jackson's rifle scope and despite which way he turns it, the reticle is always perfectly centered.
Jackson ejects a shell (which is clearly a blank) from his 1903A4.
Note how the free-bolt safety is clearly on in this shot.
An angle view of Jackson's M1903A4 Springfield.
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.
Jackson clearly led his target but the gun still shot too far left and likely hit this soldier by luck.
This shot went way
left and way
This shot went way
right and way low.
As common with the German soldiers as the M1 Garand is with the Americans, the Karabiner 98k bolt-action rifle is the standard-issue weapon of the German Army. Soldiers 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 - German manufacture 1937 date - 7.92x57mm
Germans during the standoff armed with Kar98k rifles and MP40 submachine guns.
Germans run to the bridge in Ramelle armed with Kar98ks. The device behind the soldier in the foreground is a 60cm SW-36 searchlight on an Sd.Ah.51 trailer.
Steamboat Willie fires his Kar98k, eyes closed.
Steamboat Willie's Kar98k recoils after he shoots a paratrooper.
Steamboat Willie chambers his Kar98k. You can see the bullet in the chamber and the ejected brass flying in front of his fellow soldiers face.
Karbiner 98k Sniper
One German 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.
Karabiner 98k sniper rifle with Zeiss ZF42 scope - 7.92x57mm.
A German sniper aims his Karabiner 98k sniper rifle.
The M1A1 Thompson or "fast gun" is carried primarily by Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks). It is also used by 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 for mass production as well as cheap too. 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.
Cpt. Miller removes his M1A1 Thompson from its protective plastic bag.
Cpt. Miller covering a bunker with his Thompson.
Cpt. Miller reloads his Thompson before the battle in Ramelle, despite having been clearly seen reloading it the scene before when facing the half-track. This could be due to nervous habit.
Cpt. Miller with his Thompson at the ready.
Cpt. Miller fires his Thompson through the driver's viewport of a "Tiger" Tank.
Cpt. Miller firing his Thompson.
Corporal Henderson (Max Martini
) fires his Thompson at a German through the wall. Note the holes are perpendicular to the wall but Henderson is at an angle.
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 Pistole 1940 (MP40) - 9x19mm
A German is seen armed with an MP40 during D-Day, hidden behind a machine gun nest.
A German is seen armed with an MP40 during the standoff.
A German soldier armed with a Panzerschreck
launcher has an MP40 slung over his back.
A German soldier blind-fires his MP40 in the room with Cpl. Henderson and Pvt. Mellish in it.
A German soldier fires his MP40 during the battle of Ramelle while Cpl. Upham hides nearby.
A German soldier armed with an MP40 charges a paratrooper but gets a rifle butt to the face before he can use it.
Machine Guns and Automatic Rifles
Browning Automatic Rifle M1918A2
As the squad's support gunner, PFC Richard Reiben (Edward Burns) carries a Browning Automatic Rifle M1918A2 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 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".)
Private First Class Richard Reiben sets the bullets in his B.A.R. mag by tapping it on his helmet and then loads it into his B.A.R.
PFC. Reiben gives supporting fire on a German machine gun nest with his B.A.R.
Reiben with his B.A.R. while talking to his squadmates.
Reiben with his B.A.R. during the standoff.
Reiben with his B.A.R. while in the town.
Reiben racks the charging handle on his B.A.R. before being driven out as bait for the German tanks.
Reiben with his B.A.R. at the ready.
Reiben hip fires his B.A.R. on rapid auto-firing mode.
A shell-shocked Cpt. Miller watches Reiben fire his B.A.R. in slow motion.
The Browning M1919A4 or "Browning .30 caliber" machine gun is briefly seen being lugged by a soldier during the D-Day landing. 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 Pvt. 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 by the Germans. Throughout the scene, the gun in the tower uses a disintegrating belt and Mellish's gun has a fabric belt.
A U.S. soldier is seen lugging a Browning M1919A4 machine gun during the D-Day landing.
Corporal Henderson (Max Martini
) and Pvt. Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg
) load their Browning M1919A4 in preparation for the final battle. Note how it is loaded with a fabric belt.
Cpl. Henderson firing his Browning M1919A4 .30 cal., a fabric belt is seen.
Cpl. Henderson firing his Browning M1919A4 .30 cal.
Pvt. Parker firing his Browning M1919A4 .30 cal. from a bell tower. This machine gun is seen loaded with a disintegrating link belt.
Closeup of the disintegrating ammo belt. Note that the belt is loaded with blank crimp-nosed rounds
Parker moves the M19191A4. Despite Parker saying he's out of 30 caliber, the ammo belt is still loaded on the left.
The German MG42 machine gun is first seen in bunkers overlooking Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings and then in a machine gun nest at the base of a radar site the squad encounters.
Maschinengewehr 1942 (MG42) - 7.92 x 57mm (8mm Mauser).
Germans firing MG42 machine guns from their bunker during the D-Day scene.
An MG42 machine gun still smoking from the recent firefight.
The M1911A1 pistol is seen in the hands of Sgt. 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 at a German during the final battle when he runs out of ammo. Miller is seen firing it at an advancing tank as he lies wounded on the bridge in one of the film's more memorable moments.
A large muzzle flash is emitted from Jackson's M1911A1.
Pvt. Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper
) fires his M1911A1 into a German filled trench.
Pvt. Jackson draws his M1911A1 when they first confont Steamboat Willie and checks the magazine, which is clearly empty.
A wounded Cpt. Miller fires his M1911A1 at an advancing "Tiger" tank, actually a visually modified T-34. Note how his .45 is clearly out of battery, but in perfect working order in the next shot.
Cpt. Miller fires his M1911A1 at the advancing tank.
Miller in amazement after seeing the tank blow up after shooting it with his M1911A1 (it was actually blown up by a P-51 Mustang). In this sequence, the pistol was only loaded with six shots instead of the fully-loaded seven which is not unusual since soldiers don't always 'top off' their magazines in the middle of a war zone after firing one or more rounds previously. It is also likely that since there are too many camera angle shots of Miller firing his 1911, the camera shot for the seventh round may be unused or misplaced.
During the final assault in Ramelle, a German soldier can be seen using Luger P08 pistol when facing off with Sgt. 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.
A German soldier fires his Luger at Horvath.
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. 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 German Marder self-propelled gun and again in an attempt to destroy a German tank, but the rocket is deflected off the tank's heavy armor.
Sgt. Horvath fires the M1A1 Bazooka.
Cpt. Miller attempts to use an M1A1 Bazooka before Sgt. Horvath takes it.
Sgt. Horvath fires a shot at the tank, but it deflects off due to the heavy frontal armor.
During the final battle, one of the German soldiers can be seen carrying a Panzerschreck or "Tank Terror" rocket launcher, but is killed before his weapon can be brought to bear.
A German SS soldier carrying a Panzerschreck
during the final battle. Note that the shield has slipped and is crooked.
A German SS soldier aims his Panzerschreck
. The shield is now back in place.
A German soldier runs out with a Panzerschreck
before being pointed out and killed by Pvt. 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.
Mk 2 High-Explosive Fragmentation hand grenade
PFC. Reiben hands Cpl. Medic Wade a Mk. 2 grenade before rushing the machine gun nest.
A Mk. 2 grenade is seen on this paratrooper's vest.
Paratroopers prepare to throw their Mk. 2 grenades into the tank.
M7 Rifle Grenade Launcher with M9A1 Rifle Grenade
During the opening Omaha Beach landing scene we can briefly see an M1 Garand mounted M7 Rifle Grenade Launcher being used to fire an M9A1 Rifle Grenade after the German line has been broken.
M7 rifle grenade launcher
An M9A1 grenade about to be fired from the M7 launcher of an M1 Garand. Note that this is likely a lightweight prop, as the stabiliser fin of the grenade has slid up the tail section to be directly behind the warhead.
An M9A1 grenade fired from the M7 launcher of an M1 Garand. Rifle grenades use blanks that are compressed powder loads so firing like that would hurt. The military at that time taught soldiers to plant the butt of the rifle in the ground and use a special ladder sight attached to the front of the barrel to sight with.
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.
Model 24 Stielhandgranate "Potato Masher" High-Explosive Fragmentation hand grenade
Cpl. Henderson is hit in the chest with a Model 24 Stielhandgranate.
During the D-Day landing scene Doyle (Glenn Wrage) uses his M1 Flamethrower to clear one of the German bunkers overlooking Omaha 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.
A flamethrower user with an M1 Flamethrower, seconds before being lit up by a single 8mm round.
Doyle readies his flamethrower to burn the machine gun bunker.
Doyle's flamethrower clears out the bunker with a burst of flame. How this burst of flame is so large in unknown. It may be possible that within the confines of the narrow cement hallways in the bunker, it amplifies the blast.
M1A1 Bangalore Torpedo
Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) aids some soldiers in employing M1A1 Bangalore Torpedos to clear the barbed wire protecting the German bunkers on Omaha Beach.
Soldiers bring up M1A1 Bangalore Torpedoes to clear the barbed wire.
Soldiers passing up Bangalores. Note how the side reads "Bangalore M1A1".
A soldier lights the fuse on the Bangalore while Cpt. Miller holds it.
A German Flak 38 is crewed by several SS soldiers during the final battle at Ramelle and delivers devastating 20mm flak rounds on the Airborne troops who were on the tank.
FlaK 38 in single mounting - 20x138mm B
German soldiers mow down U.S. paratroopers with their Flak 38.
20mm shells kick out of the Flak 38.
The German's turn their Flak gun to fire on Cpt. Miller.
The German's begin to reposition the Flak gun before being mowed down by Reiben's B.A.R.
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.
Pvt. Ryan (Matt Damon
) arms a 60mm M2 Mortar round by hand.