Continuity mistake: When Miller first hits the sand at Omaha a mortar round blows up behind him. He kneels in the sand, his face covered with bloody water. Seconds later a young soldier shouts at him and suddenly Miller is chest deep in the water with a clean face. Also his helmet liner strap changes position across the visor of his helmet. (00:08:35 - 00:09:50)
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Miller tries to persuade Ryan to go back home, watch their shadows on the bridge, they change directions throughout the scene because they were shot at different times of the day. (01:46:00)
Factual error: In the scene where the American troops are storming the German radar station, you can see a few dead cows with oversized bellies provoked by putrefaction, which means that they were killed at least 12 hours ago. When one of the cows receives a bullet, you can see highly-oxigenated fully arterial red blood spurting from the wound, something impossible to happens in a dead body. Blood at this time of death should be nearly black or brown. (01:24:00)
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: In the opening scene, when old James Ryan's family is behind him in the wider shot, one of the three blonde girls at the back has her hair over her ear and her right hand down by her side. In the following closeup of her, her hair is now behind her ear and her hand is up by her bag strap. (00:01:30)
Continuity mistake: In the scene where all the 101st Airborne troops walk past as Rieben, Jackson, Melish and Miller are joking about the various dog tags, you can see an isolated shot of a young Italian-looking trooper walk past and stare dead at the group. A few minutes later as Miller is yelling at the procession, he shows up again in the background as Miller encounters the soldier whose hearing is impaired because of the grenade. You have to look quickly though, and the image is somewhat blurred. (01:17:10)
Continuity mistake: During the Omaha beach scene, when Miller, Horvath and a few other soldiers are at the front of one of the bunkers trying to get past the firing squad, he puts down his knife with the mirror attached and grabs his gun, holding it underneath, but in the following shot he is holding it at the top. (00:19:35)
Continuity mistake: At the start of the movie on Omaha Beach, just before Tom Hanks and the others clear the fence with the Bangalore torpedoes, a man is shot and it ricochets off his helmet, but in the previous scene he can be seen looking at Tom Hanks, in the following shot he is looking away towards the bunkers. (00:16:50)
Revealing mistake: In the closing battle of the film we see one of the American soldiers with an ammunition belt around his neck. The striker marks on the primers indicate that the belt is made up of fired (ie. useless) cases which have had bullets put back into them so they look normal, or maybe dummy rounds.
Revealing mistake: Throughout the film we see indications that someone has been shot when a puff of grey dust comes from the body as it gets hit. This grey dust is coming from a smaller version of a paint ball filled with a white powder that the camera can capture. The mistake is that it should be blood, or nothing, not a white powder - unless the entire German army from Omaha Beach to Ramelle is dusty.
Factual error: When Jackson takes out the German sniper, we see the German snipers point of view through his scope and he eventually spots Jackson who fires at him. First you see the flash, then the bang, and then the German sniper gets hit through his scope. This is wrong because bullets from a powerful sniper rifle travel much faster than sound, he couldn't have heard the shot before he got hit. (00:51:30)
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 gotten airborne.
Revealing mistake: In the scene in Ramelle, 5 or so guys climb onto a stopped tank and the 20mm gun opens fire on them. The middle "guy" is stood upright next to the turret. I say "guy" because he's a dummy rigged to be shot - he is rigid for the whole scene until he falls to pieces.
Continuity mistake: When the group of soldiers led by Captain Miller are in the village, and the Hill knocks the wall down accidentally, if you notice when Captain Hamill and his two others above shoot them dead, that a lot of the blood gets sprayed onto part of the back wall, but when we see the wall from inside the house, there is hardly any blood at all. (00:56:50)
Visible crew/equipment: When Hanks, Damon and company are retreating to the Alamo (across the bridge) the camera pans an overview shot of their retreating and you can see two crew members in the shot - one holding a camera and another supporting member, both wearing white tee shirts on the right part of the screen.
Continuity mistake: At the end of the Radar Station Battle, Miller is yelling for Upham to bring their gear. As told he does. Watch carefully. Just as he picks up the gear, he has a green strap on his chest. when you see a shot of him running, the strap is gone. (01:25:10)