Revealing mistake: In the scene where the medic gets shot, watch the shot where Upham brings the bags up to the injured medic. The next shot there is some fog which then reveals the injured medic. In this shot, watch carefully as the cast rips away the medic's shirt. If you look near the neck, you can see the fake stomach vest he is wearing for a split second - when the actor realizes he ripped too far up, he quickly covers it back up.
Continuity mistake: When they go to find Private Ryan there are eight of them, when they go to a French town and a solider picks up the little girl and he gets killed there are seven, right? Wrong. A few scenes later, the camera shows all eight of them marching on to the next town, only in a far away camera shot so it's hard to see.
Factual error: In the Ryan farmhouse scene, the camera pans across the room. You see a telephone hanging on the wall. That type of phone did not appear until at least the 1950s.
Continuity mistake: In the scene in the Pentagon between several officers and General Marshall, when the camera pans over Marshall's left shoulder towards the officers, you can see that the colonel, who was missing his left arm in earlier scenes, has it again; it's missing again in the next shot. It may be just that his sleeve's rolled down in the middle shot, but that's still an error.
Factual error: The Tiger tanks portrayed in the movie are actually Soviet T-34s. You could tell by looking at their wheels. Real Tigers had interleaved wheels. These Tigers had the T-34 suspension. Obviously, Tigers were so rare that another tank had to be substituted. But an excellent job was done to make the T-34s look like Tigers.
Continuity mistake: When Miller is collecting Upham from the group of translators and map readers, Upham is so confused and clumsy that he knocks everything off the table onto the floor (e.g. typewriter and helmets). Told by Miller to leave everything except his helmet, Upham picks up a German one by mistake. When sent back to the table to get his own, everything has miraculously jumped off the floor back onto the table.
Revealing mistake: Just before the two American soldiers slap their grease coated "sticky bombs" on the passing German Tiger tank, you can clearly see two identically shaped grease stains on the first two wheels. Presumably nobody remembered to wipe off the wheels of the tank after a rehearsal or previous take of the scene.
Revealing mistake: In the opening sequence Cpt Miller is wading through the sea with another man. You can see an odd looking square-shaped object clearly through his wet uniform. It may come as no surprise that a second later he is shot dead centre of the pocket. The object was obviously a charge.
Revealing mistake: In the scene where the American soldiers are in the village listening to the French music on the record player, take a look at the stone pillars at either side of the doorway. The bullet patterns are all the same on each stone block. No doubt the same mould was used.
Continuity mistake: When Jackson has been given the dog tags to search through he looks for a place to sit. In this scene you see a black box with two yellow boxes at either side in the background. In the next scene the yellow box on the left has magically jumped up onto the black box in order for Jackson to kick it off and sit on it.
Continuity mistake: After the taking of the beaches, and Miller returns for revised orders, the fleet in the background appears/disappears.
Factual error: In the end scene, after the final battle, Reiben is seen calling for a medic to assist Miller. When he gets up to go and find a medic, he picks up his BAR by the barrel. Having just fought in a fairly long action with a high rate of fire, his BAR barrel would be far too hot to touch, let alone pick the rifle up by. It would take 15 or 20 mins for it to cool down enough to handle. He should have picked it up by the foregrip (The wooden bit under the barrel).
Continuity mistake: In the Belltower in Ramelle where Jackson and Parker are shooting away, there is one scene where you see Parker running out of .30 caliber ammunition. One second the MG uses a belt with ammunition, in the close up, you see the more modern disintegrating link.
Continuity mistake: At the start of the film in the telegraph scene, a Captain goes into the Colonel's office to tell him about the Ryan brothers. He is holding a folder which he puts on the Colonel's desk, but we don't see him pick it back up in all the following shots, yet it suddenly appears back in his hands.
Factual error: The American troops at Ramelle bridge are supposed to be fighting the 2nd SS Panzer Division. Two things wrong: the 2nd SS never had Tiger tanks in Normandy, having turned over their Tiger battalion to another unit in Russia prior to being transferred to France. Second, in the scenes with the Tigers, a 1st SS Panzerkorps insignia (Crossed Keys) is seen on the front right hull of the Tigers; 2nd SS Panzer Division was never a part of 1st SS Panzerkorps.
Continuity mistake: At the end when Tom Hanks has just died, there is a distant shot of Ryan standing there in disbelief. By Tom Hanks left leg is a helmet, upside down. The next shot is from above and the helmet has flipped over.
Factual error: When Capt. Miller talks to the pilot of the crashed glider telling his story the guy says he lost 22 men in the crash. Only one problem: his glider is a Waco CG-4A (the similar-looking but larger Waco CG-13A wasn't used in the Normandy invasion). The maximum load for one of those was only 13 fully equipped troops and the two pilots, and that's without a jeep. As a jeep is visible in the rear of the fuselage, there couldn't possibly have been more than 6 men on that glider including the pilots, or it never would have got airborne.
Factual error: In the scene where the Americans are fighting the Germans in Remelle, there are two Tiger 1 tanks. In reality, there were no Tiger tanks on the American front in Normandy. All Tigers in Normandy were placed on the British and Canadian front south of Caen.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where the American soldiers are about to ambush the Tiger tank, look at the empty belt on the right side of CPL Henderson's machine gun. Its length changes from shot to shot before he opens fire.
Continuity mistake: When discovering that 3 of the 4 brothers were killed, it's stated that they were all in the same company until they were split after the Juneau was sunk. We also see a few shots later when the cab is pulling up to the mother's house that there is a picture of all 4 of them together in uniform. But when Miller and Ryan are talking about Ryan's memory of his brother towards the end of the movie, he states that the last time the 4 of them were together was the night of the barn accident before Dan went to basic.