Factual error: During the final fight scene the German armour enters the town (a built up area) with open-topped AF V's and unbuttoned tanks. The Germans learned not to do this, greatly to their cost, at Stalingrad and other urban battles. It is very unlikely they would have risked their scarce armour in such a way without first securing the area with infantry.
Factual error: In the scene where the soldiers are going through the dog tags to try and find Ryan, they all have the smaller chains attached to the tags. When taking the dog tags off a dead body, the smaller link that you see attached is broken away from the necklace around the dead body. It would be rare, if ever, that a soldier would take the time to reconnect the smaller chain. More likely, he would simply take the tag.
Continuity mistake: When the old Ryan is walking along the rows of graves, you see that his jacket is blowing open against his arm. It then cuts to a close-up, and the jacket is flat against his chest.
Factual error: After Miller has been shot, whilst trying to reach the detonator to blow up the bridge, we see him sat against what is supposed to be a wartime German motorcycle and sidecar. The vehicle in question is actually a Russian Ural M66 which was only produced during the 1970s.
Revealing mistake: Several close-up shots of the bullets used throughout the film show holes in the cases, so they are clearly dummy rounds.
Factual error: When Upham and Mellish are conversing before the fight at Ramelle, Mellish is seen placing Mk. 2 Pineapple grenades into Upham's helmet. The "spoon" on the grenades does not look to be the correct type. The ones in the film appear to be modern, folded, sheet metal painted dark green; World War II era ones are a simple piece of stamped, sheet steel. The modern ones are angular while World War II ones have a slight curve.
Factual error: During the final fight at Ramelle, Mellish and Henderson are displacing from their first machine position to the next; almost getting shot by a Tiger tank gun. When they run, Henderson grabs the barrel of the 1919A4 Browning Machine Gun. He had just fired a long burst, the barrel would be too hot to grab it.
Continuity mistake: At the start we see a close up of Ryan's face and in the background is a couple walking away. The bloke has a blue baseball cap on and dark shirt while the woman has got a light blue top and what appears to be a cream coloured skirt on. The camera then shows Ryan back as he is walking and now this couple are in front of Ryan about to walk past him. (00:01:15)
Continuity mistake: When Miller is shocked, we see him in a close up with his hair slicked into a point on his forehead. Camera shows a few people taking shelter under a tank trap and back to Miller. In this shot, his hair is arranged completely differently. He didn't touch it himself, as he is supporting himself on a tank trap with one hand and holding his helmet in his second hand. (00:09:15)
Factual error: When Mellish and Henderson are fighting in the room in Romell, twice German Steilgrenates are thrown into the room. Both times they are picked up and thrown back and then the grenades explode. This is highly unlikely since the Steilgrenate had a short (4.5 sec) fuse and would likely have blown up in the hand of the person throwing it back. It was more common that Germans threw back American grenades which had a much longer fuse delay.
Factual error: The typing pool scene, in which we first learn about Private Ryan, features vintage typewriters of various makes and models being used to notify families of soldiers killed in action. One of the first typewriters we see is a Swiss-made Hermes Ambassador from the mid-1950's. (00:28:40)
Visible crew/equipment: When Reiben, Ryan, and Miller are in the ditch a side angle shows them all on the same frame, if you look carefully to the right and behind some rubble, a blue tent is visible which is revealed in the special features to be the tent that dailies are viewed.
Other mistake: When attacking the Tiger, they lift the hatch to throw in hand grenades. This hatch is actually the top of an oil drum. (02:17:00)
Factual error: Miller and his men finally find Ryan in the scene where Ryan destroys a German half track with a bazooka. The camera does not show Ryan firing the bazooka, but you hear the blast and see the effect of the shot hitting the half track, firing twice in about a three second interval. The problem is that a bazooka is a single shot weapon, and must be reloaded by hand. This takes time, perhaps 20 seconds if not more.
Continuity mistake: At the end when Ryan is looking at captain Miller, in the long shot the ground is wet and there is an upturned helmet near Miller, but in the close up shot over Ryan's shoulder the ground is dry and the helmet is the right way round and white bricks have appeared next to it.