Rules Of The Game! Challenge Coin Etiquette

Challenge coins have a long and storied past that dates back to Ancient Roman times. Modern challenge coins date back to an elite squadron from World War I, and since...

Jesse Daugherty

Challenge coins have a long and storied past that dates back to ancient Roman times. Modern challenge coins date back to an elite squadron from World War I, and since then, they have become a staple of military life for members of all branches of the armed forces. While their use at the beginning was minimal, challenge coins grew in popularity during the Vietnam war. These days, challenge coins are prevalent, both in the military and in the civilian sector. While they are often associated with the military, other organizations such as businesses, corporations, and more have adopted them. 

Challenge Coin Traditions

For many, a challenge coin might seem like nothing more than a collectible item. While it's true, they are collector's items; they are also held in high regard thanks to their tradition. Challenge coins are used to indicate membership in something important, and there are a set of rules that comes along with receiving one. They are called challenge coins because they come with a custom that includes challenging others to display their coins. A certain etiquette comes with the game, and today we take a closer look at that tradition. But first, let's examine the elements and details that make challenge coins so special in the first place.

Challenge coins are used to tell a story, and their design should incorporate details to support that story. It might be the story of a particular unit, a deployment, or even a location. Challenge coins are also used to honor specific soldiers or commemorate special dates and events. Before considering what your coin will look like, think about the story, you want your design to tell. Staring with a concept will make it easier to communicate with a designer or artist about potential images and text for your design. Having a good idea of what you want is crucial, though a reputable coin supplier will be able to transform even the roughest ideas into a significant challenge coin. 

Keep Things Simple

Your story shouldn't be complicated. Keeping things brief and straightforward is best. If the design is too broad, it can be hard to focus on a specific detail when designing your coin. Rather than creating a coin based on a soldier's entire career, choose to focus on a single accomplishment. You could also honor the individual by including pictures and dates they joined and retired from the military. Creating something eye-catching and honest is the most effective, and once you have chosen a story to focus on, the next decision will be on what details you want to include. 

Military challenge coins typically feature a picture or illustration in the center of the coin. It provides a focal point around which text and other elements are centered. Elements such as flags, ships, aircraft, unit logos, and logos for the various branches of the military are vital details to include. However, when it comes to challenge coins, the options you have for images are endless. As long as your photo isn't too large or too detailed, you may make it the focus of your challenge coin. Include elements like military equipment, airplanes, ships, a building, or logos. 

The options are endless. You can even include an illustration of a person's face. You may even opt to have a mascot or a sketch of an important building. Depending on the size and type of images you choose, you may consider shrinking them down to include more than one of your coins. Use pictures of a person and a piece of equipment superimposed on a flag or a map. It’s all about the details and creating something memorable that will be looked upon and displayed with pride. 

The Details of Challenge Coin Etiquette 

For members of the military, receiving a challenge coin is an honor and a privilege. It's essential to know the etiquette that comes along with these highly regarded mementos. You are included in a time-honored ritual that puts camaraderie and membership on the table when you use challenge coins the right way. Let's look at the rules that come along with challenge coins and find out the correct way to play the game.

First things first, the rules of the game should be explained to everyone who has been presented a coin. Break down the tradition ahead of time and remember to include all of the details. A challenge coin is to be carried at all times, and challenges can be called out at any time. A challenge coin should be within four steps at all times. The challenger must clearly state the wager of the challenge, which is typically one drink or a round of drinks. If the person challenged fails to show the coin, the challenge must be honored, and beverages must be purchased.

However, each person is only able to be challenged once. If everyone challenged produces a challenge coin, the challenger is then responsible for the drink or drinks. So be careful who you challenge. Never hand someone else a coin! Doing so is the same as giving away your coin.

No Exceptions

The challenge coin is to be placed on a table, and those who want to examine the coin can do so. However, the coin must be returned to its original location. If a challenge coin is lost, it is the owner's responsibility to replace it as soon as possible. Losing your coin doesn't take away from your responsibility to follow the rules. There are zero exceptions when it comes to challenge coin rules. They apply no matter when or where you are, so think ahead. Remember to keep in mind that you have four steps to get within reach of your coin, so plan accordingly.

A challenge coin is an actual coin. It's not a buckle, bracelet, necklace, or medallion. Please don't use it as such. The exception is for coins that are carried in a pouch around the neck. You must retain control of your coin at all times. It's an honor, so don't just give your coin to anyone. Do not drill holes in your coin. Each of the rules listed above applies to everyone who has been presented with a challenge coin. That applies to anyone who's known to own a coin or those who purchase them.

Challenge coins are an honor and a custom. They are held in high regard and cherished by those who receive them. Here at, we love celebrating and supporting the traditions that surround these unique and outstanding coins.