What Is A Challenge Coin? Overview and How It Works

You may be wondering what a challenge coin is? Well, a challenge coin is a coin with a unique design. It’s provided to someone to confirm their membership in a club or organization. A challenge coin can also recognize someone for a significant accomplishment.

Furthermore, as a symbol of fellowship, military leaders usually present service personnel with pocket-sized medallions known as coins. A commander’s coin, which is usually made of copper, bronze, or nickel, features symbols and mottos that identify the unit or office. 

Additionally, military personnel use the coins to establish allegiance when challenged throughout their duty. As a mark of pride, high-ranking officers and retirees usually display a collection of coins in their desks alongside uniform patches and ribbons.

Challenge coins have a unique ability to create pride in those who receive them. They can be used in place of medals and ribbons as a more informal token of appreciation. However, the ritual has a long history of honoring those who have served in the military and first responders. Some companies have begun to include them into their operations to motivate employees, while others use them to brand themselves.

Description of A Challenge Coin

So if you are wondering what a challenge coin is, you may also be wondering what a description of a coin is. Small metal coins that fit in the palm of your hand are known as challenge coins. Metal is used in their construction. Each coin is designed specifically for the organization it symbolizes.

The organization’s emblem or insignia is carved directly onto the coin. The motto of the organization might be imprinted around the coin’s edge. Depending on the unique design, colored enamel can be painted into the etching.

Additionally, some of these coins are not round, and come in a variety of shapes. Cutouts or distinctive features, such as a bottle opener tool, are included in special designs. A lot of metals are used to create these coins. Zinc, bronze, and brass are among the materials used. 24-carat gold is used in some of the most expensive variants.

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The History of Challenge Coin

So, you already know what a challenge coin is and its descriptions, so you may want to know the history of the challenge coin. Although no one knows for sure when or where these coins first appeared, it is usually assumed that the tradition began among military personnel.

Special coins were handed to warriors as a sign of appreciation for courage in battle in Ancient Rome, according to the earliest documented narrative. Many soldiers kept these coins as souvenirs, according to some historians, because they were uniquely marked with their legion’s insignia.

Another genesis tale can be traced back to World War I, albeit it is likely a myth. There, an Allied Powers officer is accused of stamping bronze medallions with his flight squadron’s insignia and distributing them to his soldiers. One of them was shot down over Germany, but he   return to France.

However, Soldiers mistook him for a German spy and tried to execute him when he arrived. The pilot displayed his medallion in an attempt to clear his identity. It was recognized by one soldier, and his identification was quickly confirmed, saving his life.

But how did these coins go from being merely collectibles to a challenge? Some speculate that the challenge was revived by American soldiers who visited the taverns in occupied Germany following WWII. Locals there would much conduct “pfennig checks.” In which anyone who couldn’t produce a pfennig (the German equivalent of a penny) had to buy a round of drinks for those who could.

If everyone carried a pfennig, though, the challenger would have to pay for the drinks. The Americans tweaked this slightly, substituting their unit’s specially appointed coins for pfennigs and, in true American fashion, slamming them down rather than simply showing them.

During the Vietnam War, this approach became popular. Bullet clubs had been founded by Special Forces men, each of whom carried an unfired bullet at all times. Officers were concerned that soldiers would usually smash down live ammo when faced with a problem resulting in a fatal accident. Bullet clubs were outlawed, and unique Special Forces coins were handed instead. Eventually, each unit received its own coin.

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How To Get A Challenge Coin

After knowing what a coin is, you may want to know how to get a challenge coin. So,  Many people believe that earning a coin is the only way to get one. Receiving a challenge coin may be a very rewarding experience, and it fosters a special link with those who have gotten the same coin.

Challenge coins signify a veneration of individuals who acquire them because they serve as a monument to the experiences that one has to go through to obtain them. There are as many methods to earn a coin as there are coins, but the most prevalent ones are:

  • Being a member of the military forces is a unique experience.
  • Heroic activities
  • Meeting with a high-ranking government official.
  • Attending a unique occasion
  • Achievement

However, it is possible to purchase these coins, but doing so removes the context and hence the significance of the coin. The way challenge coins are given is a key component of the ritual. Because challenge coins are a kind of informal recognition, it is only fitting that their issuance reflects this.

Furthermore, secret handshakes have long been the favored method of presenting a challenge coin to someone. Typically, a commanding officer or high-ranking official will palm the coin and give it to the recipient, either publicly or privately. This custom is thought to have started during the Second Boer War. During the conflict, British mercenaries were not eligible for official medals, but their superiors were.

Those who believe this rule is unjust would steal the medal and present it to the true owner via a handshake in secret.

Those who want to recognize someone’s accomplishment or commemorate a special occasion can design their own custom challenge coins. They may be a terrific way to commemorate an occasion and link everyone who took part in it.

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What is a Challenge Coin’s Purpose?

So, after knowing what a challenge coin is, and its history, the next step is knowing the purpose of challenge coins.The reason for its creation determines the purpose of a challenge coin. It can be used for membership, acknowledgment, creating a relationship between members of an organization, or commemorating a significant occasion or anniversary.

Awards And Recognition:

Team members who accomplish their jobs very well are given challenge coins. Giving a penny as a reward for good work increases pride and morale. Receiving one is a huge honor, and team members put forth much effort to gain one.


Challenge coins have recently been used to identify a company’s brand or emblem. Companies have started distributing these at conferences, sales events, and trade exhibits. Additionally, a business card isn’t nearly as memorable as a challenge coin. Even schools and sports teams have gotten on board. Mascots and logos are being imprinted on coins to be distributed during community gatherings.


Challenge coins prove that you are a unit member or served on a specified tour of duty in the military. Meanwhile, they denote you are a member of a select group of individuals. They were employed for security in the early days of the military. It’s possible that a service member was compelled to display the currency to prove their commitment. Although it is no longer compulsory, being part of a team is still a major military heritage.

Creating of Special Bonds And Connections:

The practice of the challenge coin keeps military personnel engaged even after they leave service. Besides, coins from units they’ve served in, missions they’ve gone on, and leaders they’ve met are widely displayed by veterans. During times of disaster, first responders are awarded coins for their bravery. Nevertheless, Challenge coins commemorate events that members of an organization have shared and help to forge a lasting bond.

How Does Challenge Coin Works And Who Funds it?

After knowing what a challenge coin is, it is also important to know how the challenge coin works and who funds it. Because challenge coins can cost anywhere from $5 to $10 each, agencies can spend thousands of dollars yearly on the tokens. Leaders are known to buy the coins out of their accounts in various sections of government.

Furthermore, Booster clubs exist in the military, and they raise funds for challenge coins. Mr. English stated that other commanders can purchase “morale boosters” with government monies. The Department of Defense did not return A request for comment on challenge coin financing.

Mr. English explained, “If you buy a load of coins and a new Mercedes, that might be a problem.” “Otherwise, they are usually in favor of continuing the custom.”


We have talked about what a challenge coin is, its history, how it works and who funds it. I hope this helps you with all the information you need about a challenge coin. Furthermore, being awarded a challenge coin is a great honor; it signifies not only that your activities were worthy of recognition but also that you are a member of a very exclusive organization.

They have the ability to connect those who hold them over space and time, preserving the relationships formed by those who have shared a common experience. As a result, it’s no surprise that many veterans proudly exhibit their challenge coins.


How Much Will My Coin Weigh?

The size and design of your challenge coin will determine its weight. 1.5″ coins weigh around 1-1.1 oz., 1.75″ coins weigh about 1.5-1.65 oz., and 2.0″ coins weigh about 1.95-2.15 oz.

What Are Challenge Coins Made From?

Die-struck brass is used for the bulk of our coins. Zinc alloy will be used to cast huge, custom-shaped, or designs with extensive cutaway regions.

What Is The Usual Size Of Challenge Coins?

Challenge coins are available in a range of sizes and forms, with 1.75” being the most prevalent, followed by 2” and 1.5”. If we have any reservations about your choice, our experts will advise you on the best size for your coin depending on your design.

Do I Need To Be In The Military To Obtain A Challenge Coins?

No, Challenge Coins are made for a variety of reasons. Coins are frequently made to honor employees or to commemorate a specific event in the company’s history. Some create them solely for collections or for a certain group of people.

How Can I Obtain A Challenge Coin?

In the military, challenge coins are given out when a mission or set of objectives is completed. They may also be rewarded for their discipline, hard work, or excellence. Others purchase them through websites or Facebook groups.



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