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.
WARNING! THIS PAGE CONTAINS SPOILERS!
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.
A U.S. soldier seen carrying an M1 Garand rather easily with his right hand during the landing on Omaha Beach. In reality, the Garand weighed 9 1/2 lbs and the rifle seen in the screenshot is likely a lightweight replica.
Private Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg
) fires his M1 Garand while taking a German machine gun bunker.
*PING!* Private Adrian Caparzo (Vin Diesel
) fires his M1 Garand. The ejected empty en bloc clip can be seen in this shot.
Mellish and Caparzo approach a German bunker on Omaha Beach with their M1 Garands.
Mellish fires his M1 Garand at a fleeing German.
"Look! I washed for supper!"
A U.S. 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 Corporal Timothy Upham (Jeremy Davies
) with their M1 Garands.
Captain 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 U.S. paratrooper 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.
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 Technician Sergeant Mike Horvath (Tom Sizemore). It is fitted with a double magazine pouch strapped to the butt stock.
"Gather weapons and ammo!"
TSgt. Mike Horvath (Tom Sizemore
) with his M1 Carbine
on Omaha Beach, Dog Green Sector.
TSgt. Horvath firing his M1 Carbine.
Horvath with his M1 Carbine as Dog One is opened.
Horvath racks the bolt on his M1 Carbine before facing the machine gun nest.
TSgt. Horvath with his M1 Carbine.
Several paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division as well as other Airborne units carry the folding stock variant M1A1 Carbine.
Paratrooper M1A1 Carbine - .30 Carbine
A 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 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.
M1903A4 Springfield 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.
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 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 - German manufacture 1937 date - 7.92x57mm
Wehrmacht soldiers during the standoff armed with Kar98k rifles and MP40 submachine guns.
SS Grenadiers 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'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 soldier's face.
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 legendary Marine Corps sniper Carlos Norman Hathcock II during the Vietnam War.
Karabiner 98k sniper rifle with Zeiss ZF42 scope - 7.92x57mm.
The Wehrmacht sniper aims his Karabiner 98k sniper rifle.
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.
Capt. Miller removes an M1A1 Thompson from its clear protective bag. The clear material has often been mistakenly identified as plastic (which was not introduced until after the war), but is rather a material known as PLIOFILM.
Cpt. Miller covering a bunker with his Thompson.
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.
Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks
) with his Thompson at the ready.
Miller fires his Thompson through the driver's viewport of a "Tiger" Tank.
Capt. Miller firing his Thompson.
Cpl. 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 beach defender fires an MP40 on Omaha Beach, hiding behind an MG42 nest.
A Wehrmacht soldier armed with an MP40 during the standoff.
An SS Grenadier armed with a Panzerschreck
has an MP40 slung over his back.
An SS Grenadier blind-fires his MP40 in the room with shortly before being taken down by Pvt. Mellish.
An SS Grenadier armed with an MP40 leads a charge during the battle of Ramelle while Cpl. Upham hides nearby.
An SS Grenadier armed with an MP40
charges a paratrooper but gets a rifle butt to the face before he can use it.
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.
M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle - .30-06
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.
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 company of mechanized SS.
Reiben with his B.A.R. at the ready.
Reiben hip fires his B.A.R. on rapid auto-firing mode.
A shell-shocked Capt. Miller watches Reiben fire his B.A.R.
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.
Browning M1919A4 on M2 tripod - .30-06.
A U.S. soldier is seen lugging a Browning M1919A4 machine gun during the bluff assault on Omaha Beach.
Henderson firing his Browning M1919A4 .30 cal., the fabric belt is seen.
Henderson firing his Browning M1919A4.
Pvt. Parker firing his Browning M1919A4 from a bell tower. This machine gun is seen here 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 M1919A4. Despite Parker saying he's out of 30 caliber, the ammo belt is still loaded on the left.
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 large pillboxes and sandbag positions overlooking the beach. The 2 pillboxes housing the MG42's are called 'Schnabelstande' and they were only used for observation and target spotting, not MG emplacement. However, there were none of these bunkers on the real Omaha Beach. The MG42 is later seen mounted on a lafette tripod, when Miller and his squad encounter a German radar station.
Maschinengewehr 1942 (MG42) - 7.92x57mm (8mm Mauser)
Beach defenders firing MG42s from their nests during the D-Day scene.
An MG42, mounted on a lafette tripod, still smoking from the recent firefight.
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.
MG34 Panzerlauf with stock fitted - 7.92x57mm Mauser
An MG34 (circled in red) bow-mounted on a "Tiger Tank" (actually a visually modified T34).
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.
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 Capt. Miller fires his M1911A1
at an advancing "Tiger" Tank. Note how his .45 is clearly out of battery, but in perfect working order in the next shot.
Miller fires his M1911A1 at the advancing tank.
Miller in amazement after seeing the tank blow up after shooting it with his M1911A1 (which 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, 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.
An SS Panzergrenadier 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 (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.
TSgt. Horvath prepares to fire the M1A1 Bazooka at a Marder III.
Capt. Miller attempts to use an M1A1 Bazooka before Horvath takes it.
Horvath fires a shot at the Tiger tank, but it deflects off due to the combination of the rocket hitting the tank at a bad angle and the Tiger'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.
RPzB 54 "Panzerschreck" rocket launcher - 88mm
An SS Grenadier carrying a Panzerschreck
during the final battle. Note that the shield has slipped and is crooked.
The same Grenadier aims his Panzerschreck. The shield is now back in place.
An SS Grenadier 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 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.
A flamethrower user with an M1 Flamethrower, seconds before being lit up by a single 8mm round.
Doyle readies his flamethrower to burn the pillbox.
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 seawall (which would have actually been made of concrete, wood timbers, and pebbles). This is an homage to Gen. Norman "Dutch" Cota who fearlessly encouraged his men to use the Bangalores to clear the seawall.
Soldiers bring up M1A1 Bangalore Torpedoes to clear the seawall.
Soldiers passing up Bangalores. Note how the side reads "Bangalore M1A1".
A soldier lights the fuse on the Bangalore while Capt. Miller holds it.
2 cm Flak 38
A 2 cm Flak 38 is crewed by several SS Grenadiers during the final battle at Ramelle and delivers devastating 20mm flak rounds on U.S. paratroopers.
2 cm Flak 38 in single mounting - 20x138mm B
The 2 cm Flak 38 being fired upon the paratroopers.
20mm shells kick out of the 2 cm Flak 38.
The crew turns their 2 cm Flak 38 to Cpt. Miller's position.
The crew begins to reposition the gun before being flanked 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. 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.