9 Reasons We Love Air Force Challenge Coins

Have you ever heard of an air force challenge coin?

Although challenge coins are not common knowledge among the general public, air force challenge coins are a longstanding and deeply respected tradition in the Air Force. 

Check out some reasons why we love challenge coins and everything they stand for! 

The history of challenge coins and the ways that the coins are used today have cemented the challenge coins in our hearts. Here are our top reasons that we love Air Force challenge coins. 

1.  Air Force Challenge Coins Have History 

The legend dates back to World War I. The story goes that Germans shot down an American pilot in Germany during the war. He made his way to the Allied forces but had no proof of identity. 

The French troops who intercepted him doubted his claims of being an American pilot and thought he was a spy.  He was set for execution until he pulled out a medallion with his squadron’s symbol on it. 

The medallion saved the pilot’s life. He used it to prove his identity and get safe-passage back to his squadron. 

After that, it became customary in his squadron to always carry the medallion as a form of identification. The custom slowly spread across all Airmen. 

Eventually, the idea of challenge coins reached all branches of the military and other public service positions such as fire departments.

2. It’s a Rite of Passage

Air Force trainees receive their first coin, called the Airman’s coin, when they complete basic training. There is an official ceremony during which Commanders impart trainees with a coin. 

This is the most significant coin an Airman will receive. The Wing Commander or Commander Chief Master Sergeant gives the medallion. It signifies that a trainee is now officially an Airman. 

They are no longer the lowly status of a trainee. 

3. There’s a Traditional Hand-off (Like a Secret Handshake)

Any good tradition involves a secret handshake. This one is no different. There is pomp and circumstance involved in giving a coin. 

You can’t simply give someone a coin. You can’t mail it. You can’t toss it across the bar. 

The coin must pass during a handshake. The Commander places the coin in his/her palm. The Commander then shakes the hand of the Airman. 

During the handshake, the coin transfers from the Commander’s palm to the palm of the Airman.

No other form of coin transfer is acceptable.  

4. It’s a Challenge

Every Airman knows that keeping with the legend, you must keep your coin on you at all times. You never know when a coin challenge or coin check will happen. 

A coin challenge or coin check is when a member of the Air Force demands that all other present members produce their coins. This can happen at any time, during any circumstances, so you better be prepared.

Any Airman that can’t immediately produce their coin owes the challenger a drink. If everyone present can and does produce their coin, the challenger owes a round of drinks for all he/she challenged. 

5. Your Coins tell Your History 

The Airman’s coin is your first coin earned, but it’s not the last. Airmen earn coins throughout their military careers.

Your collection of coins tells your professional history.

The President or other First Sergeants award coins for services performed, that are deemed worthy.

6. There are Rules

Along with the handshake pass off, there are other rules an Airman follows for the coins.

Some of these rules include:

  • You must explain all the rules to new Airmen when you give them a coin  
  • You must carry your coin on you at all times
  • You cannot lend/give your coin to someone during a challenge
  • If you lose or misplace your coin, it is your responsibility to replace it as soon as humanly possible
  • You must carry a challenge coin; you cannot wear it. Don’t attach it to a necklace or belt

Airmen who carry their coins within the rules are honoring a tradition and demonstrating that they understand the history that comes along with a challenge coin.  

7. There Are No Exceptions to the Rules

There are zero exceptions to the rules. The rules listed in #6 apply at all times to all Airmen.

They apply whether you are in uniform or not. They apply whether you’re clothed or not. They apply first thing in the morning and last thing at night. 

There is no excuse for not having your coin on your person. 

At the time of the challenge, an Airman is permitted one step and an arm’s reach to procure their coin. If the challenged Airman cannot produce the coin, they lose and owe the challenger a drink.

8. The Commander Designs the Coin

Commanders in the Air Force create their own coins. There is a designated budget for officers to create personal coins. These coins are designed for specific reasons and to commemorate specific events. 

For instance, the “First Salute” coin is awarded to the first enlisted member who salutes a newly-commissioned officer. 

9. The Coin Has Evolved

The Air Force challenge coin looks different from the original coins.

The first official version of the Airman’s coin showcased an eagle on one side. The inscription “Aerospace Power” was featured beneath the eagle. The opposite side featured a white star with a red dot in the center.

This is the Hap Arnold star. Around the edge of the coin, the words “Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence In All We Do” are engraved. 

For the Air Force’s 60th anniversary in 2007, the Airmen’s coin was updated to feature an anniversary design. The most recent version of the Airmen coin shows the Air Force symbol instead of the eagle. 

Get Your Personalized Challenge Coin Today!

Now that you are familiar with Air Force challenge coins, you’ll probably start to hear about other types of challenge coins. It is a tradition that has been adopted across all branches of the military and right down to civilian corporations looking to boost morale. 

Want to learn more about the challenge coin? Check out this article about the history of challenge coins. 

Contact us today with any questions or inquiries. 

Army Strong: How to Care For Your Army Challenge Coin Collection

Challenge coins come bound with honor and tradition, and you carry it with you everywhere you go. After all, it’s only to be expected when you’ve been given such a valuable token.

That being said, you’ll want to know how to take care of your collection of Army challenge coins.

Something that important should only be given the highest of care. However, it can be a bit difficult learning how to take care of it when you don’t have all of the know-how.

The good news is, it’s not as hard as you might think. In fact, we’ve listed a few ways that you could keep your military coins in mint condition so they can continue to look as good as they did when you first got them.

How to Look After Your Army Challenge Coins

Here are just a couple of things you can do to make sure your coins stay in the best shape for years to come. Read on to find out more.

Keep Them from Direct Sunlight

This may sound like an awkward request, but trust us, it’s for the good of your coins. Direct sunlight is good for most things, but that’s not the case when it comes to your coins.

Challenge coins tend to have paint on the exterior. Even though this paint is hardened on the coin, when exposed to the light for a long period of time, it could begin to crack or peel.

Your best bet is to place it someplace in a corner of a room, or anywhere away for the windows where the sunlight can affect them.

Don’t Use Bleach

It should go without saying, but many people have already made this mistake, and many people were undoubtedly thinking about doing later, so we’re just going to nip this in the bud right now.

Bleach is a powerful substance. There’s a reason why you only use it on specific items, and even then if you use too much you risk damaging those items (especially if they’re white clothes).

When it comes to challenge coins, you may want to wash them off every once in a while to keep them clean. There are a few ways that you can do this (we’ll go over them in a bit) but dousing them in bleach is never the way to go.

The harsh chemicals in bleach could end up damaging the paint on the coin, or worse, it could change the color of the metal itself if you continue to use the bleach.

Case and point: just don’t use it.

Be Careful with Wiping with a Cloth

Whenever you see a bit of a smudge on your coin, you may feel the need to wipe it off with a cloth. Even though this is a natural reaction, you’ll want to be very careful when you do this.

Dirt tends to have a bunch of small grains mixed within it, as well as the possibility of tiny rocks and other debris. These small particles can get caught up in the crevices of your coin and build up over a period of time.

If you try to clean it with a cloth first, you risk rubbing the particles all over the coin, which could lead to scratch marks. This will lower the value of your coin – and if you’re a true collector, that’s the last thing that you want to happen.

To take care of this problem, you’ll want to wash the coin off first. Place the challenge coin under warm water and rinse it off well before wiping it off with a towel.

Doing it this way will wash away all of the hard particles, minimizing the chance of scratching the coin when you wipe it off.

Try Soaking It in Distilled Water

Who knew that distilled water could be so powerful?

There are times when a simple rinse under the sink isn’t enough to get some serious gunk off of the coin. When that’s the case, don’t try to force it off by wiping it. Instead, try using some distilled water to do the job.

Distilled water will be gentle enough on your coin, but tough on any gunk that it runs across without affecting the color of your coin. Place your challenge coin into the water and let it sit for a day to take care of any stubborn grime.

If that isn’t enough, take a soft toothbrush and gently rub it across the area with the gunk on it. After that, place it back into the water for another day to make sure the grime is gone from the coin.

Use Some Olive Oil

Those who collect ancient coins often use olive oil in order to clean off pesky spots without damaging the coin itself. Although you probably wouldn’t categorize a challenge coin as ancient, you could still benefit from using this technique.

Before you do this, you should know that this process is extremely slow – much slower than the others mentioned earlier. Only use this method if nothing else mentioned already seems to work.

Take your coin and soak it in a container of olive oil for a week or more. If you see that the oil is changing color during the soaking process, then that means it’s saturated with dirt and it’s time for you to change it.

After the time is up, take the coin and wash it with dish soap (one that has very little or no acidity) and water. Afterwards, the coin should look good as new!

Get Your Challenge Coins Here

Looking to get your hands on some more army challenge coins? Why not check out what we have in our store?

At Custom challenge coins, we commit ourselves to making only the best challenge coins for any organization or situation. We work with military coins, police and fire department coins, masonic coins, corporate coins, and more.

We even offer you the option of making custom challenge coins, so we aren’t kidding when we say we have a coin for every situation.

Sounds like a plan to you? Reach out to us and see what we can do to help you. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

For Your Hero: Firefighter Gifts

You breathe a sigh of relief because he’s home safe again.

It feels like you’ve been holding your breath since he left—hours ago.

You thought it might get easier as time went on but it didn’t. Every time he gets called to a fire, you worry he might not come back.

And how could you not?

Our firemen and women put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. They run into the flames while everyone else runs the other way.

So whether it’s a firefighter friend’s birthday, anniversary with your firefighter partner, or just a regular Tuesday, show the firefighter in your life how much you appreciate them with one of these great firefighter gifts.

Gifts with a Practical Element

Duffle Bag

The fire station is often a firefighter’s home away from home. A custom firefighter duffle bag is the perfect gift to ensure that your firefighter has all the essentials when he or she is on duty.

Tool Roll Made from Retired Fire Hose

Okay, we have to admit, this is not the only gift on this list that is made from an old fire hose. I mean, in this day an age, with the importance of reusing and recycling, a gift like this is sure to be a winner.

It’s safe to say your firefighter may already be set when it comes to tools, they probably already have plenty. But do they have a cool place to store them? Probably not!

That’s where the tool roll comes in. It’s practical and eco-friendly—hard to beat that!

Travel Mug

Living life so that you’re ready to go at the drop of a hat makes for a lot of half-finished mugs of coffee.

Keep your firefighter’s coffee tank full and avoid wasting the good stuff by giving your firefighter the gift of an insulated travel mug.

You’ve got the freedom to personalize them, and there are some mugs that claim to keep your drinks hot for up to 30 hours! That’s plenty of time to enjoy your cup o’ Joe, on duty or off.

Personalized Paracord Bracelet

If their choice of profession is any indication of their personality, it’s safe to say your firefighter loves adventure.

What better way to make sure they’re always prepared—whatever adventure they may embark upon—than the gift of a Paracord bracelet?

Some bracelets are essentially mini-survival kits with a compass and a loud whistle to help them find their way should they lose their way.

Fire Hose Toiletry Bag

Remember how I talked about loving the retired fire hose gift ideas? Well, here’s another one.

Having a home away from home means always making sure you’ve got the tools to stay fresh. Your firefighter needs to be able to start their day with a fresh face and clean teeth.

And where do they keep these essential tools when they’re on-call at the station? In their new fire hose wash bag!

Firefighter Gifts That Are Plain Fun

Upcycled Bottle Opener

Sticking to our recycled theme, this antique fire hose nozzle has been turned into a bottle opener, and it is exactly what your firefighter needs in his or her life.

Fire Hose Can Coolers

Can’t stop, won’t stop this upcycle train!

Keep your firefighter’s drink nice and cool on a hot summer’s day with some can coolers made from decommissioned fire hoses.

Home Décor

There are a plethora of firefighting-themed items to decorate a firefighter’s home and garden.

From hard-hat clocks to shelves in the shape of fire escapes, you’re sure to find something to make your firefighter smile.

If your firefighter enjoys being out in the garden, there is no shortage of garden gnomes out there to keep him or her company.

Fire Hose Belt

If your firefighter needs a bit of help to keep their pants from drooping, give them a belt made from an old fire hose!

It’s got a practical element but also makes quite the fashion statement. 

Gifts That Tug at the Heartstrings

Personalized Keyring and Necklace Pair

If you’re feeling a little more sentimental, go for a gift that you and your firefighter can always keep close at hand.

The pair consists of a keyring with a sweet personal message on it and a hole in the shape of the Maltese Cross and a Maltese Cross-shaped necklace to fill the hole in the keyring.

It’s the perfect reminder of how much you appreciate each other and just how perfectly you fit together.

Personalized Challenge Coin

If you’re choosing to go down the more custom route, think about getting your firefighter a challenge coin.

Challenge coins originated in the military, but the tradition has now spread to fire departments, police departments, and veterans.

They have grown to take on an even more powerful meaning, as well. While they are still used as a challenge for friends to buy a round of drinks, they can also be used as a way for a person to show they are in need of support.

Whenever they’re feeling low or if they’re suffering from PTSD, they don’t have to let out a cry for help, they can simply pull out their challenge coin to let everyone know they need someone to talk to.

Show your brave firefighter that you’re there for them with a challenge coin.

Show Your Support

The best gift you can give your firefighter is to show them how much you appreciate them.

These firefighter gifts all show that you love and support your firefighter and that you’re there for them when they need you.

Take a look around to find the right challenge coin for your firefighter, and give them the gift of support.

What is a Challenge Coin? And How it all Began

What is a Challenge Coin

What is a Challenge Coin? And How it all Began

Did you know those non-monetary incentives are as effective as monetary incentives when it comes to employee motivation?

For a long time, challenge coins have been a popular way of motivating teams and developing a sense of camaraderie.

This tradition is deeply rooted in the military and there is a long history to it. Today, challenge coins are commonplace in workplaces, corporate events and even in sporting.

So “What is a challenge coin?” you might ask. In this article, we shall discuss what these coins are and the history behind their existence.

What Is a Challenge Coin?

These are coin-sized medallions given to soldiers in recognition of their achievements.

Each unit in the military has its own unique coins.

Each new member receives a coin. Soldiers who perform exemplarily well during battle are also appreciated using unique coins. There are also other coins presented to soldiers as they rise in rank.

In the military, the more challenge coins you have the more respect you garner. The main idea behind challenge coins was to instill a sense of unity and pride as well as acknowledge valiant effort and excellence.

The History Behind Challenge Coins

Though challenge coins can be traced back to the US military, there are contradicting theories as to when and why they were actually first used.

The Most Common Theory

This theory takes us back to the First World War.

Many people volunteered as the US was building its first Army Air Service. Among the volunteers was a wealthy lieutenant. He ordered several coin-sized bronze medallions to be made as he wanted to give the members of his unit a memento.

He put a small leather strap in his medallion to wear around his neck. During service, he was fortunate enough to survive when his plane was shot down over Germany.

He was captured by a German patrol unit who took all of his identifiable items. They did this so that he had no way to identify himself if he escaped. The only thing they left on him was his pouch with the medallion in it.

Later on, he was taken to a small town near the front lines of the war. He managed to find civilian clothes and escape.

He stumbled into a French outpost where he was presumed to be an enemy because they were wary of people not in uniform and did recognize his accent.

The French soldier wanted to execute him because they also couldn’t ID him.

The lieutenant remembered he still had his pouch around his neck and showed them the soldiers his unit’s insignia. Luckily for him one of the French soldiers recognized it and he was spared.

As an apology for almost executing him, the French soldiers gave him a bottle of wine. He was then able to get back to his unit and since then it became a tradition that for all soldiers to carry a unit-coin at all times just in case.

Second Theory

There also those who have another version of how challenge coins came to be.

In this theory, the tradition started in Vietnam. An infantry-run bar tried to keep non-infantry men away by forcing them to buy drinks for the whole bar if they had no proof they had been in combat.

Initially, infantry men used bullets to prove their combat experience. It then got a little out of hand with grenades and other unexploded materials.

Later on, the accepted item of proof became a medallion with the insignia of the unit. That’s when the coin check tradition began and which still continues today with the coins referred to as challenge coins.

What’s the Challenge Behind Challenge Coins?

Though the introduction of challenge coins is unclear as they were first used in an unofficial capacity, there is some clarity as to when they truly became challenge coins.

As soldiers collected artifacts of war during the Vietnam war, they would place them on the bar and see who had the biggest memento and best story. The perceived loser would buy a round for all the parties involved in the challenge.

To avoid losing, soldiers started coming with dangerous explosives. This attracted the attention of the administration which opted to introduce the challenge coins to avert disaster.

The tradition of the challenge still goes on. Any soldier can initiate it by holding their coin in the air, placing it on the table.

Those being challenged have to draw their coins in a similar manner. If anyone does not respond correctly, they have to buy a round for the entire group. If everyone produces their coin, it is then up to the challenger to buy drinks.

How Are Challenge Coins Used Today

They are still a very big part of military culture. Service men pride themselves in the coins they collect for valor and rank. However, challenge coins have also been adopted in other fields for various reasons. The following are some of them.

To Recognize the Efforts of First Responders

Firefighters and law enforcement agencies have adopted the use of challenge coins to honor special accomplishments in the line of duty.

Government agencies and politicians have also not been left behind. They use challenge coins to create a sense of honor and unity at a time of tragedy by recognizing the efforts of first responders. Even citizens can be awarded.

Branding

These days, institutions leverage the respect people have on challenge coins to promote their brand. Instead of just issuing business cards, companies are giving out branded challenge coins during conferences, trade shows, and sales events.

Sports teams and schools have not been left behind either. During sports and local community events, mascot and logo branded coins are handed out.

Awarding and Creating a Sense of Unity

Personnel and team members who discharge their duties exemplarily well are awarded coins. This boosts their morale to continue working hard as well as challenge the rest of the team to work as hard.

Institutions have also begun issuing different teams with unique coins to help create a sense of unity and belonging. This then improves teamwork and cohesiveness.

Leverage the Power of the Coin

What is a challenge coin really? Well, what began as a simple gesture among servicemen is now one of the best tools for instilling espirit de corps that extends well beyond the military.

Organizations can now leverage this power to create cohesive teams and grow their brand.

Metal Promotional Products has one of the most creative custom coin building teams in the country. Click this link to get a free quote on all our promotional products.

The Airman’s Coin: 8 Interesting Facts About the Air Force Challenge Coin

The airman’s coin has a rich history. Given to airmen at their Air Force graduation, it signifies their accomplishments. Learn more here.

Military challenge coins are an object of honor and tradition. To receive a challenge coin is a recognition for the merit of something you’ve done.

From military to civilian organizations, a typical challenge coin has an organization’s insignia. Leaders or commanders present a challenge coin to a member of the unit or organization in recognition of special achievement or honor.

The Airman’s Coin is no exception to a deep tradition of history and honor. Here’s a look at eight interesting facts about the Airmen’s coin and the tradition of military challenge coins. 

1. From Trainee to Airman

Air Force trainees receive the Airman’s coin at the time they complete basic military training. Trainees receive their coins during the coin ceremony. 

This coin is the first and most significant coin of an airman’s career. It’s typically given by the Wing Commander or Command Chief Master Sergeant. Once a trainee receives the Airman’s coin, they are no longer referred to as “trainee.” 

They are officially known as “Airmen.”  

2. The Origin of Challenge Coins

There are several versions of the origin of the challenge coin. The most widely accepted story took place during World War I.

A lieutenant had bronze unit medallions created for his squadron. He gave one medallion to each member in the squadron. 

The French captured one of the squadron pilots after his damaged plane landed behind German lines. The French believed he was a spy. The pilot faced execution.

The only thing the pilot had with him was his squadron medallion. The French saw that he was an American and rewarded him with a bottle of wine–instead of death. 

From this story (or a similar story) the idea of challenge coins grew across all branches of the military, including the Air Force and the Airman’s coin. 

3. There’s a Technique to Giving a Coin

The USAF challenge coin tradition follows the traditional challenge coin protocol.

Awarding a coin is more than handing over a coin. You don’t mail a coin or slide it across a table.

The airman coin passes from the giver to the receiver during a strong handshake. The coin sits in the palm of the commander’s hand. During the handshake, the coin transfers to the recipient’s hand. 

4. Versions of the Airman’s Coin

The Air Force challenge coin is different today than the original version. 

The first version of the Airman’s coin featured an eagle on the coin’s front. The eagle claws its way out of the coin. The words “Aerospace Power” sit underneath the eagle.

The reverse side of the coin includes a white star with a red dot in the center. This is the Hap Arnold star. On the coin, a pair of wings flanks the.  

Around the edge of the coin are the words of the USAF Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence In All We Do.

For the Air Force’s 60th anniversary in 2007, the Airmen’s coin featured a special anniversary design. 

The latest version of the coin uses the new Air Force symbol instead of the eagle.

5. What Are Challenges?

Once an airman receives a coin, they must keep with them at all times. They never know when a challenge could happen.

During a “challenge” (or “coin check”), anyone in can request all other members to produce their coins. 

Any member who can’t immediately show their coin has to buy the challenger a drink. While the losing task can be anything, it’s most often buying drinks for other members.

If everyone has their coins, the challenge has to buy a round of drinks for the unit.

6. Earning Additional Coins

Aside from the Airmen’s coin, Airmen can receive other coins throughout their military careers.

Coins include those presented to them by a first sergeant or by the president for any service deemed meritorious. A collection of coins often tells the story of an airman’s career. 

7. Personal Coin Designs

One of the perks of becoming a commander in the Air Force is creating your own coins. Officers typically have a personal budget for coins. They can create coins to represent why they choose to give coins to other airmen. 

Coins should represent excellence and significance. The design should recognize airmen who go above and beyond to serve their unit and their country. 

One coin is the “first salute” coin. It’s often presented to the first enlisted member to salute a newly-commissioned officer. 

8. The Coin Has Rules to Follow

As with many traditions, the Airman’s coin comes with the rules of challenge coins

Some of these rules include:

  • Explaining the rules when giving a coin. 
  • You must carry your coins at all times.
  • Do not ever give someone else a coin in response to a challenge. 
  • You are responsible for replacing a lost coin as soon as possible. 
  • There are no exceptions to the rules. 
  • A challenge coin is not a belt buckle or jewelry. Carry it, don’t wear it. 

Receiving an Airman’s coin or other Air Force challenge coin is a great honor. It’s also a great responsibility. 

Airmen who carry their coins within the rules show they understand the gravity of the honor. 

The Airman’s Coin is an Important Tradition

The Airman’s coin is an important USAF tradition following the tradition of military challenge coins. 

Airmen work hard to receive the Airman’s coin. The coin ceremony ushers them from trainee to airmen.

The Airman’s coin shows that the former trainee now understands the full range of air and space power capabilities. They have finished training to employ or support some aspect of these capabilities.

As airmen rise in ranks, Custom Challenge Coins takes great pride in helping commanders choose the perfect design for their coins. We understand the importance of what challenge coins represent. We enjoy creating the perfect coin to recognize your own airmen. 

Our team represents families with members from all branches of the military. Contact us to let our team help your design and produce the perfect challenge coins to represent outstanding service to our country. 

What’s the Purpose of the Prestigious Military Challenge Coin?

The military challenge coin has become one of the most prestigious military and first responder markers of rank and camaraderie.

Did you know that more than 20% of veterans who served in either Afghanistan or Iraq suffer from severe PTSD and/or depression? 

What about the fact that, when many veterans return from their service, they feel as if no one appreciates the sacrifices that they’ve made for their country? 

Whether you have a veteran in the family, or just wish you could do more to show our members of the military how much you appreciate what they’ve done, there is one simple act that means a lot: giving a military challenge coin

What are challenge coins, and how will they help to show appreciation — and support — for those who have served? 

Keep on reading to find out. 

A Brief History of Military Coins

Let’s quickly discuss how the concept of a military challenge coin came about in the first place. 

There are two main conflicting narratives surrounding the birth of challenge coins — and you can believe whichever one you would like.

The Wealthy Pilot

Some people think the tradition got started when a wealthy member of the American Air Force in World War One wanted to thank the men in his unit for serving alongside him. 

He had bronze coins created for each man in his unit so that they would always remember their time together. He wore his coin in a pouch around his neck, and it protected him and made him feel close to everyone who fought alongside him. 

Unfortunately, his plane was shot down, and he was captured by German soldiers. He escaped, but the Germans stole everything but the pouch around his neck, which they hadn’t noticed. 

While on the run, he came across some French soldiers, who assumed he was German and planned to shoot him. He then showed these French soldiers his medallion, which had the American insignia around his neck. 

His challenge coin saved his life. 

The Vietnam Challenge

Other people believe the tradition of U.S. Army challenge coins began much more recently, during the Vietnam War. 

One of a unit’s favorite ways to pass the time was to head to a local bar while on leave or at the end of the day. The goal was to be able to prove that you’d been in combat. In some cases, they would hold up enemy bullets in the bar. 

If anyone couldn’t prove that they’d served, as a way to say “thank you”, they’d need to buy all those that had served a drink. 

Soon, soldiers and veterans alike started making challenge coins, and the tradition evolved into the “coin check” challenge many of us are familiar with today. 

The Modern Meanings of a Military Challenge Coin

It goes without saying that the meaning of a challenge coin usually contains a sentiment that’s directly related to the history of the person receiving it.

There are challenge coins for all different branches of the armed forces, and there are even designs created to build camaraderie between those who have served in medical units in the army. 

In the past, challenge coins were mostly seen as a way to create a greater sense of belonging and teamwork within units. 

In today’s world, though, they’ve taken on an additional meaning — one that has saved countless lives. 

Mental Health and Challenge Coins

In addition to PTSD and depression, as well as any physical injuries sustained in combat, there’s another very real threat to the safety of veterans — suicide. 

Sadly, many vets don’t always have access to the mental health care they need to process the complex and often frightening emotions that living in dangerous situations — and seeing difficult traumatic events — causes. Some cannot cope, and opt to take their own lives. 

We know that you’ll do anything to stop a veteran — whether or not they’re a member of your family or friend — from doing this. 

While it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs that someone might be suicidal, there is something else you can also do. 

Many people give veterans challenge coins to help ease the transition back into civilian life. These gifts for veterans carry an especially beautiful meaning. They let the veteran know that, should they ever need to talk or ask for help, you’ll be there for them. 

They don’t need to do anything more than simply slide their coin across the table to you, or show it to you. When they do, you’ll be ready to listen to what they’re going through. If they need immediate help, giving someone a coin means that you are ready to be the person they rely on. 

It’s a powerful and life-saving gift.

Are You Looking to Buy Challenge Coins Online? 

We hope that this post has helped you to better understand the meaning and prestige behind the idea of the military challenge coin. 

Whether your goal is to tell a soldier that you’re always willing to listen to them, or if you want to build friendships in your unit, a challenge coin always makes a great gift. 

Remember that these coins aren’t exclusively reserved for members of the military. They also make wonderful gifts for members of the police force, firemen and women, and others who help to protect and serve our country and communities. 

Additionally, they’re wonderful ways to promote a brand or even build teamwork among your employees. 

Spend some time browsing through our gallery of custom and pre-made challenge coins, and consider ordering some for the people you care about. 

4 Cool Challenge Coins Ideas to Enhance Your Event

Challenge coins have a long history of promoting a sense of community and showing support for fellow service members within the military.

However, as the popularity of challenge coins continues to grow, many companies, industries, and even non-profits have started to embrace the promotional and morale-boosting aspects of creating challenge coins.

Whether you want to create a challenge coin to recognize an employee, celebrate a friend’s birthday, or raise money for a cause, there are a few things you need to know first.

In this post, we’re sharing with you some of our most effective tips and ideas on how to create cool challenge coins. Read on to find out how to create the perfect design for any profession and occasion.

1. Design Your Own Artwork

If you want to create a custom challenge coin that’s truly unique to your organization, one of the best things to do is design your own artwork. It’s also a great way to encourage teamwork in your office or unit. You could host an artwork contest amongst your employees, and have your team members vote on their favorite designs.

You could also involve your target market by uploading a few of the top designs to your brand’s social media account. Your followers could then vote on the design they’d like to see on the coins.

Remember that artwork doesn’t always have to be serious — it just has to mean something to the people you’re giving it to. Maybe you’d like to reference an inside joke that always breaks the tension in your office, for example.

Perhaps you’d like to print a design of a landmark in your hometown on your challenge coin, to show pride in where you live and the community you serve. The sky is the limit, so don’t be afraid to be bold when you’re designing your challenge coin artwork.

Other popular artwork ideas include your state’s flag, a sports team’s mascot or logo, or even a memorable date for your company or unit.

2. Consider the Finish and Plating

The overall look of a custom-designed challenge coin can be altered by the chosen plating and finish.

For example, for a memorial challenge coin, a black metal plating might the best option. If you’d like to reward one of your employees for becoming the salesperson of the month, a polished gold plating would fit this theme well.

Another element to consider is if you’d like your custom challenge coin to have a hard or soft enamel finish. Despite the name, this doesn’t actually refer to how soft or hard the coin is.

Instead, it’s all about the texture. If you prefer a smoother coin, then you should opt for a hard enamel finish. However, if you want to get creative with the coin’s texture, then soft enamel will be a better option. The best finish for your coin will also depend on the number of colors and design elements you’ve chosen to include.

3. Don’t Forget the Edges

What’s the final secret to bringing cool challenge coins to life?

It’s all about the edge of the coin. This is a beautiful, small detail that can have a huge impact on the overall design.

If you’re designing for a fire department, for example, you might want to go with the traditional choice of a scalloped spur cut edge. For a corporate challenge coin, an oblique line edge will give your coin a finish that’s similar to a merit medal.

If you want to take things to a more elegant level, opt for a stunning diamond crosscut edge. You can also choose two of the classic edge choices, a flat cut edge or a sleek rope cut edge. Remember that the type of edges you choose will also impact the overall feel of your coin.

4. Giving out Your Cool Challenge Coins

Last but not least, you also need to think about how you’re going to give out your cool challenge coins and the significance you want to attach to them.

For example, if you’ve lost a fellow officer in the line of duty, the coins could be a heartwarming memento to give to the other members of your unit at the memorial service.

You could also create custom challenge coins to give to the family members of fallen servicemen and women.

If the coins are a part of an employee engagement initiative, you could create a game surrounding them to promote and improve company culture. For example, every time an employee holds up a coin, everyone in the office collaborates in a five-minute brainstorming session.

The last person to hold up the coin has to get coffee for the rest of the team!

Plan an employee recognition party, and give out the coins as a wonderful party favor.

Are You Ready to Create a Custom Designed Challenge Coin?

We hope that this post has helped you to understand the design elements to think about when bringing cool challenge coins to life.

Ready to place an order for custom designed challenge coins for your next company event? Want to use coins to help raise awareness about a cause that’s close to your heart?

We can help with that.

If you’re still in need of a little design inspiration, feel free to browse through our gallery.

When you’d like pricing information, or if you’d like to speak to someone about the different design options for your custom challenge coin, feel free to reach out to us.

5 Army Challenge Coin Design Tips that Make a Statement

The right army challenge coin design can make a lasting impression. Discover our top tips for creating a design you’ll be proud to show off.

Challenge coins have a rich history dating back to Ancient Rome. They are often associated with the military and commemorate big events, units, special accomplishments, and more. Even though most people associate these coins with the military, they aren’t officially recognized by them. This means that coins are instead created by units, companies, and even individuals.

Anyone can create a challenge coin to commemorate an event or honor a person. If you’re thinking about creating your own Army challenge coin, keep reading. We’re giving you five essential design tips to help you create the perfect challenge coin.

1. Tell a Story

Military Challenge Coin

The goal of a challenge coin design should always be to tell a story.

Maybe it’s the story of a unit, a specific deployment, or a location. Challenge coins can even honor a specific soldier or commemorate the date of an event. Before you start thinking about what your coin will look like, decide on the story you want to tell.

When you start utilizing other design tips on this list, you’ll have a better idea of what you want to focus on. This will also make it easier to communicate with a designer or artist about potential images and text for your coin.

Your story doesn’t need to be overly complicated. In fact, it’s usually best to keep it brief. If it is too broad, it can be tough to choose a specific detail to focus on when designing your challenge coin.

For instance, rather than trying to create a coin focused on a soldier’s entire military career, you could choose a single accomplishment. You could also focus on the individual by including a picture and the dates they joined the military and when they retired.

Either of these options will allow you to keep your image simple and the text short. We will go into more detail about why this is important later in the post.

2. Start with an Image

Custom Dragon Challenge Coin

Once you decide on the story your challenge coin will tell, the next design decision you need to make is what image you will use.

Most military challenge coins feature a picture or illustration in the center of the coin. It dominates the space, providing a focal point around which the text and other design elements are centered. Popular images include flags, aircraft carriers, unit logos, and the logos for various branches of the military.

But when it comes to custom challenge coins, the options you have for choosing an image are endless. As long as your image isn’t too large to fit on a coin or too detailed to come across clearly in the small space, you can make it the focus of your challenge coin.

Your chosen image could be a picture of military equipment, like an airplane or a ship, a building, a logo, or any other image. You could even include an illustration of a person’s face. You can also create a unique design, such as a caricature of a mascot or a sketch of an important building.

Depending on the size and type of images you choose, you may be able to shrink them down and include more than one on your coin. For instance, an image of a person or piece of equipment superimposed on an image of a flag or a map.

3. Make Your Design Pop with Color

USAF Custom Shaped Coin

While some military challenge coins are colorless and left in the color of the chosen metal coating such as bronze or silver, color can be a great way to make your design pop.

With such a small amount of space to work with, a few touches of color can help certain elements stand out from the rest. They create definition between shapes that make it easier to see the details of your image. While you can use several colors in your design, beware of going overboard. On a small coin, too many colors can make your design cluttered and tough to read.

In addition, complementary colors can help make your coin more aesthetically appealing.

4. Keep it Short

The image you choose for your challenge coin may be the focal point, but the text you choose is just as important.

Whether you choose to include a unit name, a date, or other important text, it’s best to keep your message short. Too many words mean you’ll need to use a smaller font, which can be tough to read on a small coin.

If you decide you need more words to get your message across, reduce the size of your chosen image instead of trying to squeeze everything onto your coin.

5. Don’t Neglect the Back

 

Once you’ve decided on the perfect design for the front of your challenge coin, it’s time to consider the space on the back. Leaving the back of your coin blank can leave your coin looking unfinished.

One idea for the back of your challenge coin is to include a single word or phrase. While the front of your coin might be more decorative with images and text, a less complicated back can call attention to your message.

Another option is to continue your design onto the back, making it as unique as the front of your coin.

Designing Your Own Army Challenge Coin

Now that you have a few tips for designing your own Army challenge coin, it’s time to get started.

No matter the type of coin you’re looking to design, we can help. Check out the different types of challenge coins we produce to start searching for the right options for any design elements you have in mind.

Challenge Coin Discount – Thankful for Upgrades in November

** Promotion Expired**Challenge Coin DiscountChallenge Coin Discount – Thankful for Upgrades

For the entire month of November we are offering a free upgrade when you order 100 or more custom challenge coins.  We are thankful for our customers, which is why this thankful November we want to say thank you with a free upgrade!

Choose between:

a. Free upgrade to Antique nickel, brass, gold, silver, copper, and bronze.

B. Edge upgrade to Oblique line, Bevel, Bevel Diamond, and Cross Cut.

C. Packaging: Free upgrade from PVC to velvet bags.

***for the antique finishes that they aren’t available with hard enamel coins.

Check back often for other challenge coin discounts! And remember, we offer free shipping and free artwork from our talented artists. We are here to help!

Learn more about us here. Thank you for considering custom challenge coins!

Fill out our free online quote to receive this challenge coin discount! Mention “Thankful for Upgrades!

 

6 Unique Custom Challenge Coin Designs to Take Inspiration From

Challenge coins are a great way to memorialize your service in a unique way. Here are 6 custom challenge coin designs you take inspiration from today!

Military challenge coins have a unique and long-lived history, and over the years countless designs have been created. Whether you’re currently serving in the armed forces or you plan to someday, you may want to create one yourself.

Custom challenge coins inspire and honor the members of every military branch, past, present, or future. Why not create one to honor the men and women you serve with? Deciding on a challenge coin design can be tricky, though. Where do you begin?

To give you some inspiration, we’ve tracked down six unique, custom-designed coins. Take a look. You may get some ideas for your own custom challenge coin.

1. The Silent Cobra

One unique design we came across was simple but instantly attention-grabbing. Why is that? The coin was in the shape of a cobra.

How could this coin not grab your attention, with its focused staredown and metallic strength? The great thing about this design is that it doesn’t say anything–not with words, anyway. The front of the coin only holds the snake’s image. But it definitely carries a story. What does the cobra represent? What was this coin given for?

This type of coin is perfect if you’re looking for a conversation starter. If you would like to add some details as to why it was given, include the information on the back. This will allow you to commemorate the event or group it represents while still keeping that eye-catching look of a text-less image.

2. Anchors Aweigh

Military challenge coins come in all sorts of shapes, despite their being called coins. You don’t have to stick to the round look–the snake design definitely didn’t.

USN Challenge Coin

Another amazing design we found was in the shape of an anchor, complete with a chain hanging down throughout the design. Members of the Navy will love this nod to their chosen military branch. This design was sleek and elegant while nodding to the hard work of life at sea.

Is there a specific shape that would nod to what you’re commemorating? If so, try implementing it into your design.

3. Vehicle Inspiration

Custom Shaped Challenge CoinWing Shaped Challenge Coin

Challenge coins are meaningful no matter their shape, but there’s no rule stating your coin has to be round. Shake things up by going with another shape–it can be entirely unique if you’d like.

For a nod to your specific group, why not design your challenge coin in the shape of a vehicle that’s frequently used? Air Force members may appreciate a coin that’s in the shape of the plane they usually fly. Or a ship-shaped coin would be appropriate for Navy members.

If you’d rather not use the entire vehicle in your design, you can still nod to the specific military branch by using part of the vehicle. A wing or an anchor will make it easy to tell what branch the coin was made for.

To make your challenge coin unique, include your own combination of messages, information, memories, colors, and more. If a vehicle shape isn’t unique enough for you, create a shape that’s all your own!

4. Spinner Design

US Army Spinner Coin DesignWhite House Military Challenge Coin

If you’d like your design to be interactive, get inspired by a coin that spins inside itself. This coin design features a rectangular frame, in the center of which is a coin section that spins, thanks to an axis that keeps it safely connected to the frame. The spinning section could hold whatever you’d like. Maybe it’s a regiment number or the year and name of a specific battle.

If your desired info won’t fit in the small centerpiece, that’s okay. You’ve still got the frame are to include words and dates.

5. Event Tickets

Marine Ball Ticket Challenge Coin

If your coin will commemorate an event, such as a Marine ball, get inspired by looking at ticket-style challenge coins. These coins come shaped just like the tickets you’d get for an old movie or Ferris wheel ride. Feel free to throw a big old “admit one” on one side, just like the designs we’ve seen. The other side of your coin can include your commemorative information.

We’d suggest adding information about the event itself, to remind you what you were “admitted” when you got the coin. You can also add troop or branch information. Insignia or other symbols would look great too.

For an added nod to the movie-theater feel, consider making your text flow like the end credits of a film.

6. Plain and Simple

Spartan Custom Challenge Coin DesignSpartan Challenge Coin

Maybe one of the most unique coins we came across was the least flashy of all. In fact, it was completely plain. All it showed was the silver shape of a helmet.

This sort of simplicity will really make your coin stand out. While others tend to involve color, aggressiveness, or other flashy design elements, this one came across as almost solemn.

This particular coin held the shape of a Spartan helmet, but there are plenty of other helmets to choose from. Why not use a traditional shape of headwear that represents your military branch?

Though simple and silent, this design lets viewers know what branch it represents while letting them reflect on what it means. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking pin, go for something simple that reminds the barer and any viewers why it was created in the first place.

View other custom and unique challenge coins designs to get even more inspirations for your next custom challenge coin design.

Create Your Own Challenge Coin Design

Challenge coins are highly versatile. They come in all shapes, designs, colors, and metal types. The sky’s limit when it comes to creating your own design.

These six coins each offer unique ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Keep them in mind when creating your own challenge coin design and see what you come up with!

We specialize in creating unique challenge coins. If you’d like to create your own custom challenge coin, we’d love to help. Click here to learn more about our military challenge coins.