Ultimate Guide to Challenge Coin Rules: Etiquette and Traditions

Challenge Coin Rules

Challenge coins may seem to be regular collectible which is accumulated in challenge coin display, just like the minted coin collections. However, particularly for the military, police, fire brigade, and some other civilian institutions and their personnel, these represent much more than that, and there is even a challenge coin game with challenge coin rules that we explain here in this post in detail.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of challenge coins, uncovering their history, significance, and the unwritten rules that govern their exchange. Whether you're a military veteran, a collector, or simply curious about this intriguing tradition, this guide will provide valuable insights into challenge coin etiquette and traditions.

What is A Challenge Coin?

A challenge coin is a specially designed and produced small coin which is made from metal. Additionally, both civilian and military challenge coins bear the insignia or emblem of an organization, institution, group, or, more frequently, a military unit, police department, or fire brigade. The organization's motto or slogan can also be etched onto the coin.

What does Challenge Coin Symbolize?

Challenge coins symbolize a memorable career, a significant success, an act of bravery, or unity among the group members. Both generic and custom challenge coins are not beautifully designed metal pieces. These challenge coins are widely used, especially by military personnel ranging from small unit members to top leaders, even including the Defense Secretary.

History of the Challenge Coin

Challenge coin history dates back to World War I years, as stated by the United States Air Force. Among the soldiers fighting in the First Great War, a high number of recruits were students of Yale and Harvard Universities. One of the scions from an affluent family ordered specially designed medallions for his squadron and gave one to all his friends on the team.

different types of challenge coins

After a short while, this lieutenantโ€™s aircraft was shot down, and he had to land behind the enemy lines. Captured by the Germans and lost all his documents and clothes, which showed his identity and country, except for the pouch that hid the medallion, this lieutenant managed to escape to the French trenches.

However, being afraid of the saboteurs, the French were about to kill him when he could finally take his medallion out to show his allegiance to the squadron's name.

Mastering the Challenge Coins Tradition: Rules and Etiquette

Becoming a century-old tradition in the United States, challenge coin etiquette allows the challenge coin holders to challenge other owners, which is also called a coin check. Every challenged coin owner is required to show their coins; otherwise, they need to buy drinks for all the other coin holders. However, challenge coin games can only be played by complying with several rules to ensure an authentic challenge coin ceremony.

  1. The first challenge coin rule is about how you initiate a coin check. You can lift your coin in the air or place the coin on a hard surface to start the challenge. But you should be aware that if you drop the coin, it means you challenge everybody in the room.
  2. Afterward, at the same time, you can also shout and state you are starting a coin challenge. Be sure to explain the challenge coin rules clearly after initiating the game to let all the coin holders know the gameโ€™s procedure.
  3. Another important challenge coin rule is that you can only challenge the people who are officially given a challenge coin.
  4. If you want to win a challenge, you have to show your coin. Yet, coins must be within armโ€™s reach, and you cannot drill holes in your coins or hang them on your buckles. You can carry them in your pockets or wallet to keep them close to you all the time in case of a coin check.
  5. When all challenged people show their coins properly, then the first challenger must buy the drinks as per the challenge coin rules.
  6. During a coin check, you should not give your coin to someone else and keep it in your hands. Or else, it means you are giving your coin.
  7. Additionally, if you lose your coin, you have to get a new one as soon as possible if you do not want to order all drinks during the challenge coin game.
  8. Challenge coin rules also require you not to challenge a coin holder twice after he-she fails to show the coin in the first round.

As can be seen from the rules, challenge coin rules are designed to ensure unity feeling among the members and create new ties through a well-designed game.

challenge coin rules and where to buy them

Where to Get a Challenge Coin?

Challenge coins can easily be found in traditional stores and online marketplaces. Or, you can get a custom challenge coin with the design and motto you desire.


Challenge coin games are an indispensable part of an old tradition of specially designed medallions whose roots extend back to the first quarter of the 20th Century. However, this historic game can be an efficient and enjoyable way of establishing strong ties only when the challenge coin rules are duly followed.

FAQ About Challenge Coins

These are the most asked questions about challenge coins rules.

Can anyone carry a challenge coin?

Even though this tradition started with the military personnel, all institutions and civilians can also hold challenge coins to mark their achievements, graduation, or career.

What happens if you drop your challenge coin?

According to the challenge coin rules, you must keep your coin in your palm or on a surface during a challenge. If you accidentally drop the coin, that means you challenge everybody in the room.

Should you always carry a challenge coin?

Definitely. You must always keep your coin with you to show it during a challenge.

Can you give a challenge coin as a gift?

Challenge coins can always make a great military gift ideas to celebrate Christmas, mark a special day, or please your beloved ones on their birthday.

Can a civilian receive a challenge coin?

Despite their roots in the military, challenge coins are also famous among civilians now. Many corporations, sports teams, clubs, or institutions give their members and employees special coins.

What happens if you lose your challenge coin?

You must always keep your challenge coin with you if you do not want to buy the drinks in case of a challenge. When you lose your coin, you have to get a new one since your responsibilities continue.

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