Military Challenge Coins Strike Excellence tells an infinite amount of information from the military unit it was created for, to its leadership and commanders, NCO’s, Senior Enlisted and every man women that has ever served in the military uniform of the United States. US military units have both honored and been honored with military challenge coins that have been minted, striked into a piece of metal that bears the originality, history and heraldry of the US military in military challenge coin form. Military challenge coins whether they were designed to honor active duty US military, US Veterans

US Veteran Military Lapel Pin

and prior service have had military challenge coins made in their honor. Challenge coins crafted in honor of our military leaders who would later take on roles in the US government have been depicted on military challenge coins at one time or another. General Mad Dog Mattis certainly has had his visage appear on any number of coins in the past.

James Mattis Secretary of Defense Coin

Military challenge coins have taken on a variety of forms over the years and have been designed from the standpoint of creativity coupled with a US Navy Rate, US Army function of MO S, US Marine unit, Coast Guard cutter, Air Force squadron or similar area involving their training, course work, mess, association or created as a means to raise funds for their morale, welfare and recreational groups.  The US Military is incredibly diverse and where there is a purpose, interest, or simply something bad ass that needs to be created you will find a military challenge coin to represent it.

Challenge Coins have been around for decades with a number of theories stating it goes back as far as World War 1 and was significant in saving the life of an American soldier caught behind German lines.

German Soldiers WW1

Other suggestions depending on who you hear the tale from suggest to the contrary that the challenge coin came into its first appearance during the Vietnam War

Vietnam War

where a coin was first made by a member of the US Army Special Forces having created a coin with their unit name and information on it. Lots of people have participated in the subject of where the first challenge coin came from and many would argue that their first appearance is as diverse in its tale as there are challenge coins out there. No one is for sure able to confirm this but it certainly enriches the history of its heritage and its association with the US Military and challenge coins.

Custom Challenge coins have naturally become a spin off when it comes to small business in America and the desire to create and produce some next level custom challenge coin designs. Without question there are custom challenge coin companies that have spring boarded into success because of their creativity and originality. Some of their designs have truly reached sensational concept and design and have been produced into some of the rarest looking custom challenge coins to date.

There is always a desire to get ahead and be exceptional in America. The desire to be the leader and be the best at what you do has always been an inherent part of the American fabric and our culture whether as part of the US military as a small entrepreneur and small business owner or anything that drives us to excel. America didn’t get to where she is because she was willing to accept second place awards and the men and women who deign and create custom challenge coins are no exception either.

Let’s look at some of the reasons there are custom challenge companies that excel and ones that sit on the bleachers and are indifferent to excellence and originality.

What Makes A Great Custom Challenge Company?

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Put into the simplest of words and lists it has to be the following above all things for a company to excel in the custom challenge coins business.

  1. Originality
  2. Creativity
  3. Quality from design to mold to production to actual quality checks
  4. Communication
  5. Production And Speed

When it comes to the production of custom challenge coins it boils down to three things that must be maintained. Originality, price and delivery are the items that form the foundation of any good custom challenge coin company. When you miss one of these items your stool falls. If you get only 2 out of 3 it’s a failure or something sure as hell gets missed or delayed. You want a great price and great delivery then creativity suffers. You want creativity and speed then price might be the issue. Most custom challenge coin companies in the industry today rely on an overseas factory and their overseas artists bringing with it cultural differences, language barriers or more.

Solution – have a professional artist or design team that can produce originality and navigate through the challenge coin production stream to make sure the design goes from beginning to completion to ensure its success.

Creativity means having the skills to arrive at a design that matches with the expectations of a customer. Is the artwork original and does it make sense, does it match with the ideas you supplied and does it have the level of professionalism you want? We have seen artwork over the years produced by some overseas factory and we have never been impressed. Copying the work of others? No problem but don’t do it without permission.


But to create from scratch and come up with the idea is worth a lot because without it a challenge coin does not sell or make an impact.

Solution – Hire an artist or at least work with a company that has in house artists so that the information can be understood and the work can be done at the level it deserves to be. The results from working with trained artists is that it will produce a much better coin, the communication more effective, fewer mistakes and issues and you will have less back and forth arriving at a fantastic design. Most companies that do not have an artist in place will be cheaper and that is because they rely on the free art services of someone else to do their job. It frequently results in a failure. Don’t short change yourself. If you are going to spend the money on a custom challenge coin make it look great.

Production And Speed – Get them fast and get them here now! Cutting a corner can and will allow this to happen. Do you really need 10 days to get a coin or would you really like to plan, use an artist, create something magical and have it produced in a reasonable time to ensure its done right? We hope so. To consider anything else is really asking for the perfect storm to occur.

Solution – Understanding the demands of art, anticipating the changes needed to arrive at correct art, making sure the molds and dies are approved and are correct and then waiting for the production timeline to arrive and have coins in hand must all be accounted for. Planning ahead and knowing how long things take is a great way to move ahead successfully with a custom challenge coin. Better planning produces better challenge coins, guaranteed.

What Are The Timelines To Producing A Custom Challenge Coin?


  1. Artwork – give it 1 to 2 weeks. Anticipate some back and forth. Good art takes time. Great art takes a bit longer we like to say.
  2. Molds – About a week sometimes less. Get that mold image and make sure all the elements are there, nothing is missing and make sure it’s right before you sign off because if it’s wrong it’s on you and your entire run of coins will be wrong and you will have signed for it.
  3. Production – Coins are being made. This can take about 2 weeks. Depending on the complexity of the coin and if it requires hand painted enamel or it’s just a stamp coined can make the difference when it comes to coin production.
  4. Shipping – depends on where it is being sent from and to the location it is going. Military APO/FPO addresses must be sent USPS. So if you are overseas, on deployment and are expecting coins make sure to account for time to ship to the US and your vendor and then the time to repack and ship from them to you. This can take some time and know this can help you plan ahead.

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Military coins whether they be produced and sold online based on what the coin company wishes to design and produce or a custom military challenge coins for a military unit is still based on the same set of criteria when it comes to their manufacturing and design. At the end of the day and what many people quickly realize when the coins arrive in hand is how do they look and did they come as expected.

The answer is they need to be and should be. So having looked at the way challenge coins are made and some of the steps involved lets discuss how the US Military looks at challenge coins and the direction military challenge coins have gone when it comes to how cool and exciting they have become in today’s military marketplace and the demands of the US military and their move to new heights in military challenge coin design.

US Navy Challenge Coins

Tin Can Sailors US Navy Destroyer Challenge CoinUS Navy FCPOA First Class Petty Officer Association Magnum Challenge CoinVBSS US Navy Challenge Coin

Without question the United States Navy has been a devout customer when it comes to military challenge coins. Their jobs, their rates, their schools and training, their associations, warships, submarines and squadrons, let’s face it their homes for years, have become the inspiration of many US Navy military challenge coins and for good reason.

How Do US Navy Challenge Coins Rate?

Deck Ape US Navy Challenge Coin

Another example of the types of challenge coins produced for US Navy Sailors, both active duty and retired range in so many ways like their rates and jobs they hold. Highly trained professionals in each career path they take builds with it an appreciation or at least an understanding of the demands and responsibilities of that rate. They spend years achieving a level of maturity in their rate and become experts. They do not achieve it without a little pain and suffering. Learning something new never is an easy path. Even years post retirement US Navy sailors can and often look back with fond memories their time in service and sometimes wish to reflect this in the form of a US Navy challenge coin.

Below are seen many US Navy challenge coins that have been recently created to illustrate how detailed and professional today’s industry is responding to the needs and interests of the United States Navy in the world of challenge coins.

VBSS US Navy Challenge CoinInformation Systems Technician IT Rate Challenge CoinUS Navy Veteran Challenge Coin

Army Challenge Coins

The US Army knows coins and from its domestic and deployment locations has designed and come up with some fantastic looking coins to serve its needs. Whether it was a challenge coin design for its 11 Bravos, or maybe a US Army Armor Division Coin in the case of the 1st Armored Division, US Army coins have been going to war since World War 1 and up until the most recent of times. US Army Soldiers have no less a desire to find and procure the very best in Army coins and demand the same level of creativity and artwork that any other military branch experiences. The US Army wants the best and deserves the best in challenge coins and they deserve it. Below are examples of US Army coins that are among the very finest and serve them.

Army Quartermaster Branch Challenge Coin3rd Armored Division Spearhead Army Challenge CoinArmy 75th Ranger Regiment Challenge Coin

USMC Challenge Coins

Grunts. Hard chargers. Devil Dogs. US Marines. At the level these warriors fight at and their dedication to service, to the US and to each other stands among the highest levels of professionalism and service with distinction, like their sister branches. The US Marine has been involved in every major battle and war since the US was founded and is even a year older having been born in 1775 in a place called Tun Tavern.

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The Marine Corps Challenge coins seen below were created in honor of the USMC and have traveled to every continent, been in the hands of Privates all the way to Generals and have been produced with exacting craftsmanship and a dedication and focus unparalleled in the challenge coin industry. Below are examples of these Marine Corps challenge coins and how far they have traveled in both design but also in terms of the quality achieved in today’s industry.

USMC World Tour Marine Corps Challenge CoinUSMC Sergeant Major E-9 Rank Challenge CoinUSMC Spartan 300 Shield Marine Corps Parody Challenge Coin

The United States Marine Corps with its elite units have been designing coins whether it was from a Battalion Commander or a Senior Enlisted officer like a Sgt Major giving thanks to his hard working US Marines. The finest coins in the industry are often associated with the US Marines and their military challenge coins must be the best from the art and design to the final construction. Slogans associated with the USMC like First In Last Out are even depicted on USMC military challenge coins giving it the flair and look that US marines want.

Air Force Challenge Coins

The youngest of America’s armed services, the US Air Force and its short but highly effective career has been one also involved in the sourcing of challenge coins producing with its team of talented coin companies the rich results of modern challenge coins that excel like the USAF does. Known for its technology, Special Operations Squadrons, TACP’s

USAF TACP Tactical Air Control Party Military Coin

and its involvement in things we will never be educated on their USAF coins can and often do stand apart with exciting designs that capture the intensity of their role and special mission whether a Pararescue

USAF Pararescue That Others May Live Coin

expert or a highly trained airmen and a coin dedicated to their rank. Below are a few examples of the detail and quality experienced in Air Force Challenge coins.

K9 Veteran 75th Anniversary Magnum Challenge CoinCold War Veteran Challenge CoinAir Force One Over All Ancient Liberty Challenge Coin

Coast Guard Challenge Coins

Even though the smallest of branches the US Coast Guard doesn’t show it when it comes to the details and colorful coins it has been involved in over the past few decades. Both US Coast Guard and US Coast Guard Auxiliary have participated in challenge coin design and have taken challenge coins to new heights and directions not previously seen by tying in its history and role as a lifesaving branch known for its every ready, Semper Paratus, attitude and ability. Thy save lives, they have gone to war, they detect and arrest smugglers and prevent the incursion into American waters drug dealers and those who would bring harm to American shores. The Coast Guard coins below are a few examples of the quality and nature of the US Coast Guard and display with pride their incredible dedication to the citizens of the United States.

Coast Guard Veteran Challenge CoinYou Have To Go Out Coast Guard Magnum Challenge CoinCoast Guard Veteran Challenge Coin

Do Presidents Get Military Challenge Coins?

President Challenge Coins? Yes they do. As a maker of military challenge coins it seems fitting that the Commander In Chief should receive a military challenge coin in their honor. It honors the role and the position as the leader of the US military. Many companies would argue that a president challenge coin should not be made because they disagree with their politics but to honor the position of Commander In Chief is critical to the respect we provide to any commander from a 2nd Lieutenant to a General to a President. You don’t have to agree with them but let’s face it for those of us who have served us likely didn’t agree with our platoon leader also but we still respected their position and authority.

Donald J Trump Commander In Chief Coin

In the end whether you are looking for a challenge coin just for yourself, as a military gift to be given to a friend or family member or maybe you find that you are suddenly ordered to volunteer and immediately responsible for locating a challenge coin designer and company that will take care of your needs then you are now thrown headlong into the world of military challenge coins. We hope you will find military challenge coins both interesting to design but also learn how best to find a great company to work with and experience firsthand how important a military challenge coin can be when it represents the US military and the men and women who serve within it.

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