What It Means To Be Gifted A Custom Challenge Coin

What is the history of custom challenge coins and what does it mean to be gifted one? Read up and find out.

Throughout the ages, members of exclusive groups and units have found ways to honor each other and prove their allegiance and membership. Whether it is through songs, sayings, tattoos, or other markers, these groups recognize the importance of their bond and their allegiance to the same group.

Challenge coins are one of the ways these groups celebrate their membership and their bond. From US Presidents to police officers to soldiers, many groups and units use challenge coins to build morale and fellowship and honor others. And while you may have never heard of challenge coins, they have a long and celebrated history.

In this article, we’ll go over the use of custom challenge coins, including their history and what it means to be gifted one.

Custom Challenge Coins: What Are They?

A challenge coin is a coin or medallion created by a group that is given to the members of that group. Challenge coins typically bear the seal or insignia of a group along with their motto or other identifying images or words. They are typically used by different groups in the military and law enforcement to signify that they belong to a unit or group.

But how did these unique gifts get their start? Challenge coins have been used throughout history, and have even played a role in saving soldiers lives!

Challenge Coins: How They Got Their Start

The first use of challenge coins in human history was by the Ancient Romans. The Romans had one of the greatest armies in history that conquered huge swaths of territory in a short amount of time.

Commanders in the Roman army witnessed the greatness of their soldiers in battle and wanted to recognize them for their acts of bravery and courage. They had custom coins made for these brave soldiers that depicted their name, unit, and their accomplishments in battle. This helped raise troop morale and commemorated these soldier’s finest moments.

But challenge coins weren’t just used by Roman soldiers. They were also used by powerful families during the Renaissance. Upper-class families would frequently give their friends and family members “portrait coins”. These portrait coins usually had the portrait or likeness of the recipient on one side and their family seal or insignia on the other.

These coins were usually given when someone had accomplished a great feat. They were also given to commemorate special events like marriages, birthdays, and deaths.

A Downed Pilot Starts A Great Tradition

While challenge coins were used long before the 1900s, their use in the modern world stemmed from World War I.

Due to the large scale of the conflict, many young, upper-class men volunteered to join the military at the start of WWI. One of these upper-class men was a lieutenant in charge of an air squadron in the Air Force.

To raise troop morale and honor his men, he had bronze coins made with their squadron insignia on them. He gave one coin to each man as a gift. One young pilot wore his coin in a leather pouch around his neck, keeping it with him at all times.

Unfortunately, this young pilot got shot down shortly after. Although he survived the crash, he was quickly captured by German forces and taken prisoner. He was stripped of his uniform and equipment, except for his leather pouch around his neck. During an attack on the base where he was held, the pilot managed to escape the Germans.

After getting civilian clothes, the pilot managed to make his way to the frontlines. Just before crossing the front line, he was captured by French soldiers on patrol. Due to the frequent presence of spies in civilian clothes, the soldiers believed him a spy and ordered his execution.

Before they could carry out the sentence, he showed them his coin, which a French soldier recognized. They suspended his execution and were able to verify his identity as an American pilot. Once his identity was verified, they gave him a bottle of wine instead of a bullet!

The Birth of the Challenge Coin

After the safe return of the pilot, he told his story to his fellow pilots and they all began to keep their coins on them at all times. They even invented a game to ensure each pilot had their coin on them. When the pilots were at a bar, one of the members of the squadron would take out their coin and “challenge” another member to show theirs.

If that member didn’t have their coin, they would have to buy a round of drinks for every person who had their coin with them. If the challenged member had their coin with them, the challenging member would have to buy that member a drink.

Although this isn’t standard practice for groups with challenge coins, many of them still follow this tradition.

What Does It Mean to Be Given a Challenge Coin?

Different groups give challenge coins to their members for different reasons. Many groups give their members custom challenge coins as a sign of their acceptance into the group. For example, the US Air Force provides graduates of their basic training program and officer training program challenge coins to congratulate them and commemorate the event.

Some groups only give out challenge coins to those who have achieved something great. For example, some law enforcement agencies and fire departments give out challenge coins when their officers and members go beyond the call of duty.

Challenge coins may also be given to non-members under special circumstances. This usually involves the non-member doing something great for that group. Members who have challenge coins also give them to guests of honor, such as politicians or special guests.

Create a Custom Challenge Coin for Your Group

Now that you know more about the history of custom challenge coins and what it means to be given one, you can start designing a custom coin for your group.

If you have any more questions about challenge coins or how to create one for your group, please visit our blog.

11 of the Most Rare Military Challenge Coins Ever Given

Want to take a look at some of the most rare military challenge coins ever given? We’ll show you in this guide.

Military challenge coins have interesting stories behind them. Service members played challenge coin games in bars to display their ranks and command. Veterans and active service members now use rare military challenge coins to connect.

The challenge coins also play a significant role in their social lives after service duty. They’re given by high-ranking officers to the participating members of a specific mission. The medallions are also exchanged between officers to commemorate non-military events.

A Brief History of Military Challenge Coins

The first coin piece dates back to World War 1. An American prisoner of war escaped from the Germans’ custody into the hands of the French military. The French were about to execute him assuming he was German.

He showed them a pressed bronze coin. The French recognized the engravings and spared the American pilot’s life. Active and retired members of the armed forces still challenge each other with coins in drinking bars today.

American soldiers would carry live bullets to bullet-clubs in Vietnam. The practice spread to their fellow service members. They would challenge for free rounds by slamming down ammunition on the bar table.

Interesting Facts about Military Challenge Coins

• The coins are collector’s items. You can find rare gold coins as well as cheap brass and zinc coins in a military supply or flea market. Rare and expensive coins earn premiums to the collector

• Military challenge coins open up the history of military events. A soldier allied to the American military once presented a medal to identify himself. Had he not done so, he would have died in the hands of his country’s ally. Military challenge coins are practical instruments in times of war

• There are always opportunities to present your coin. These include identification, during drinking games, and to boost morale

• Coins are used as a tool for recruitment into the military

• Most presidents have a unique military challenge coin

Each military challenge coin spots special unit symbols and designs. They also bear different mottos. The differences identify the militant groups.

Challenge coins have several uses;

• They’re for remembrance. People hold coins to remind them of lost battleships or servicemen

• They deepen the feeling of comradeship and solidarity

• They inspire and boost morale

• They’re for motivation on special occasions

The following are the best-designed military challenge coins;

1. Rare Military Challenge Coins: US Army Diver Coin

army diver challenge coinThe army diver coin is cut into an elegant shape. The coin contains different diver badges that identify the holder. The US Army Diver coin calls for even more significant diving achievements.

2. Friday the 13th

friday 13th challenge coinNavy Chief Petty Officers use it to commemorate their acceptance into the chief petty officer mess hall. The men were accepted on Friday the 13th, hence the coin name.

3. Aggressive POW-MIA

The coin spots the flag of the National League of POW/MIA and barbed wire. The flag represents the sanctity of life for prisoners of war. The crossed rifles is an appeal from the prisoners to be sent back to their home countries.

4. Medal of Honor Military Challenge Coin

The coin features a basic design. The coin is easily identifiable. People can tell that the coin-bearer has met one of the honored service members.

5. The Poker Chip

The military coins are iconic, and they weigh light. There’s a space on the edge of the coin where you can engrave a phrase. The poker chip coin is common in the Marine Corps School of Infantry.

6. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

The coin spots an impressive cut laced with a trailing gold chain. The coin is given by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West.

7. Trample the Weak

The Airborne infantry unit is more aggressive than the Marine Corps and Army. The coin symbolizes the infantry job and the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

8. South Park

The design is common. The military challenge coin is comical. It allows the holder to speak proudly of their former duties in service.

You can customize it by changing to your preferred location.

9. Submariner Memorial Coin

The coin holds a record of the hull numbers of lost ships. The Silent Service guards all the seas in the world 24/7.

10. The Classic Stamp

The metal plate spots a design common to iconic units. The president-flying HMX-1 marine helicopter squadron delivered the Classic Stamp.

11. The Mickey Mouse Challenge Coin

Mickey Mouse Challenge CoinThe Mickey Mouse Challenge Coin is a copyrighted disc that is a bit comical. The Naval Air Warfare Center issue is different from other coins which represent violence and cut in the adult world. The coin is a reminder to take a 40-minute drive to Walt Disney World.

Other Rare Military Challenge Coins

Active military service members and veterans can seek a variety of rare challenge coins. Custom challenge coins are also available for government officials and civilians. Presidential challenge coins are the most unusual challenge coins ever.

Since Bill Clinton, presidents give custom coins to military personnel, wounded soldiers and their families. The challenge coins are transferred discretely and with honor.

Challenge coins today go beyond ranks and missions in the military. Guests to the White House and foreign dignitaries receive minted coins as tokens of respect and hospitality.

The Executive Branch made rare challenge coins for Joe Biden and Dick Cheney. Typical coins are also available for the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. Modern manufacturing methods make for intricate and colorful military challenge coins.

Other coins include Tickets for sailors and the Clear Challenge Coin.

Final Word

Rare military challenge coins represent deep affiliation to service. The coin bearers use them for identity and as a sign of brotherhood. Unit members swap, gift, and gather military challenge coins between themselves.

The artists who mint the challenge coins often have a background in the military. They understand military slang and the culture of service in the Armed Forces. That’s why it’s easy for them to develop custom challenge coins on special order.

For more tips and information, please explore the other sections of our blog.

 

Can You Rise to the Challenge of a Coin Check?

Wondering what a coin check is and what the rules are? We’ll explain it all in this guide.

The actual history of challenge coins is widely debated amongst military scholars. But one thing is clear: the coin check.

In this article, we’ll discuss the “coin check,” and some of the origins of it. We’ll also discuss some of the rules, and where they may vary from work culture to work culture or from military station to station.

It is important to remember that these rules are not necessarily set in stone because we know that the origins are tenuous. Therefore, if you want to initiate a coin challenge tradition within your ranks, it is important that everyone knows the rules before proceeding.

Coin checks often take place in bars, so it’s better to establish the rules before you start drinking so that there isn’t a drunken fight later.

Read on for more information on coin checks.

Where Did Challenge Coins Come From?

As stated previously, the history of challenge coins is widely debated. So much so, that historians can’t settle on where the coins came from. But they do know that they’re now popular in the military and with those who work with and serve a sitting president.

One story states that the challenge coin originated in World War I when many men joined up for an adventure, not really understanding what war would entail. An especially excited one decided to mint coins for his regiment, which they could all keep as a memento following the war.

It turned out that one of the men was shot down over Germany and taken as a POW. He escaped, with nothing to identify him but the coin from his regiment around his neck. In this case, it was put into a leather pouch instead of hung like a necklace.

Once he reached France, they were convinced he was a spy because of his limited understanding of French. They decided to execute him.

As luck would have it, someone recognized the challenge coin and the regiment, and the man was ultimately spared.

While we don’t know how true this is, we do know it is one of the most popular challenge coin origin stories.

Coin Check Origin

The coin check also has several different origins, all of which could be true.

The first one takes place in Germany following the Second World War when many foreign soldiers were assigned to help rebuild the country. As a way to pass time in the bars, some of the soldiers instituted a pfennig check, a precursor to a coin check. At the time, a pfennig was the lowest denomination of German coins.

The fellow, or fellows, who did not have a pfennig on them were then responsible for picking up the next round of drinks. This then evolved to asking for their challenge, or regiment coins. Those that didn’t have them on them were also asked to purchase the next round.

There are also some shaky origins in Vietnam and with Vietnam veterans, where some instituted the challenge coin check to keep bars exclusive to certain veterans or soldiers.

Where Can You Initiate a Coin Check?

Anywhere. It is most often done in a bar or a pub, but you can do it anywhere where someone will need to buy something if he or she doesn’t produce it. You could do it over dinner or going out for dessert. If you live in a fraternity or sorority house that uses coins, you could also use a coin check to randomly assign the least desirable chores for that day or evening.

Generally, though, it is reserved for drinking.

How to Initiate a Coin Check

If you wish to initiate a coin check, you will attempt to get everyone’s attention and show your coin. This means you’ve challenged everyone. You can do this by shouting, screaming, or slamming your coin on the table in a way that everyone can see it.

If you drop your coin, and it makes a noise, this means you’ve accidentally initiated a coin check, a consequence of not taking care of your coin properly. After this, the same rules will apply for the coin check.

Coin Check Initiation Response

The response is for everyone present to place their challenge coins on the table in front of them in a timely manner. Everyone in your party must do so, no exceptions!

What If Everyone Has Their Coins?

You can agree on two scenarios in this case, but ensure your party knows this ahead of time. If everyone has their coins, the last person to produce it will then be responsible for purchasing the round of drinks, desserts, meal, or whatever you’ve agreed upon.

The second scenario is that if everyone has their coins, the person who called for the challenge coin check will then have to purchase the round of drinks, desserts, or do whatever chore you’ve designated.

It is tradition that the person asking for the coin check is “punished” if they initiate and everyone has their coins. But, it is up to your party to decide the rules.

Buying Custom Challenge Coins

Custom challenge coins are a great way not only to participate in a hilarious coin check, but to also instill the members of your regiment or club with a sense of pride.

If you’re interested in purchasing a set, contact us for a custom quote. We can help you choose a challenge coin that you and your fellows will cherish for years to come.

Sizing Guide: How to Choose the Right Custom Challenge Coin Size

When choosing a custom challenge coin size, it’s important to have the right one for your needs. Learn more about choosing the perfect one with our guide.

The tradition of challenge coins dates back almost a century during World War I. The true origin is not known for sure, but it’s said that a lieutenant gifted bronze coins to his all the members in his unit. It was this medallion that eventually helped save the lieutenants life when it served as proof to allied forces that he was an American soldier.

Over the years, challenge coins have been gifted to honor both individuals and organizations. These coins are used for a variety of organizations, not just the armed forces.

If you are considering placing an order for challenge coins, there are a lot of decisions to make. One important decision you will make is the sizing of the coin. There are many different factors that will determine which challenge coin size is perfect for your needs.

Keep reading to learn more about challenge coins and choosing the perfect size for you with our guide.

The Challenge Coin Tradition

Challenge coins tell a story. They tell stories about the organization they are for, the person they are gifted to, as well as the person who made it.

They aren’t used as a formal award, instead, they are very informal. Evidence of this is how the coins are usually given. The coin giver usually places the coin in the palm of their hand, and they pass it to the receiver through a handshake.

Often times, they are something that individuals in an organization carry with them. It’s very common for organizations with coins to play games to see who has theirs on them. For example, if one person pulls out their coin and someone doesn’t have theirs, then that person is responsible for buying drinks for the whole group.

Challenge coins are a great way to honor individuals and create traditions within your group.

Who Uses Challenge Coins?

Challenge coins are used for many different purposes. They used to be used solely in the armed forces. Now, firefighters, police officers, government departments, businesses, and other groups use them for many different purposes. They can be used to honor acts of bravery, commemorate a big event such as retirement, or even to help raise money for a cause.

People are generally surprised at how common they are. There is a large community of individuals who trade and collect challenge coins as well. The more rare ones can sell for $40-50.

Challenge Coin Sizes and DesignTypical Challenge Coin Size

Challenge coins vary greatly in size, but the most common size is about 2 inches in diameter. However, they can be made larger or smaller than this. We offer custom coins anywhere from 1.5-3 inches in diameter.

This size is the most common because it offers the greatest balance between space for design, weight, portability, and visual impact. However, that doesn’t mean that this is the best size for everyone’s needs.

We will go over other factors to take into consideration when deciding which size is best for your needs.

Design

Deciding on the design is one of the first things you will do when creating your custom coin. Laying out your design beforehand will help you determine which size is best.

One of our professionals will help you create the design you have in mind, and make recommendations as to which sizes your design will fit best on.

If you want your coin to have a lot of details, generally a larger size is better. A larger coin will allow those details to show through and help people appreciate them more.

If your design is more simple, a smaller coin will work just fine. Considering how much you want to put on the coin will help you determine which size is best.

Budget

Your budget is another important factor in deciding what size is best. The price per coin increases as the size of the coin increases. You do get a discount the more coins you buy, but that’s not always a reasonable option for everyone.

Things like how detailed the design is, adding color, and if you are putting a design on both sides of the coin will all affect the coin price. The key is to find the right balance between all of these things as your trying to make a coin that fits into your budget.

It’s also important to remember that on top of the price per coin, you will also be responsible for the price of the mold of the coin. This is a one time fee, added onto your order total. The price of the mold also increases as the coin size increases.

Purpose

Lastly, it’s important to consider the purpose of the coin. Do you want it to be something that people can carry around with them in their pocket? Or do you imagine it being displayed?

A large coin is perfect for being framed and put on display in a home or an office. Smaller coins will easily fit in an individuals wallet or purse.

A good visual reference is a quarter. A quarter is a little less than 1 inch in diameter. you can lay multiple quarters next to each other to get an idea of what a 1, 2, and 3-inch coin would look like.

The Perfect Size For Your Needs

Picking a challenge coin size can seem overwhelming when trying to consider all of these different factors. Determine ahead of time your budget, purpose, and design help simplify the process. Our professionals will help you design the perfect coin for your needs!

For more questions or help, call our office or complete our free online quote

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’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.

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.