A Useful Suggestion for Your Next Custom Challenge Coin

Every challenge coin company out there offers a full variety of metal finishes that you, the customer, can choose for your custom coins. You’ve seen the gold, the silver, and even all the antiqued finishes all over the place. However, have you considered the much less utilized black nickel finish? This metal is absolutely, without a doubt, the most under ordered finish. I’d have to say not only from Challenge Coins Direct, but from all the manufacturers.

Admittedly, it doesn’t look great on all coin designs, but for most the black nickel would be right at home and add some real character to your project. It would be best described as a sort of gun metal appearance – not quite all silver, but certainly not black metal either. It does have a shine to it when you hold your challenge coin in the light, but it is subdued and very complimentary towards custom military challenge coins.

Black Metal Challenge CoinsWe offer a sample picture of this finish to the left, and on the challenge coin pricing page of our website because this color is extremely difficult to Proof when we send your coin design over to you. Unlike gold and silver, which are quite easy to show you what the finished product will look like, black nickel is nearly impossible to replicate thru a digital proof.

Form our experience, an entire coin with no color fills at all is difficult to make look good. Black metal can change all that because it is so unique, especially in 3D formats. When you want to avoid the gold tones, but don’t desire for the coin to flashy silver – this just may be the right choice for you – and best of all there is no up charge for this selection. Ask your representative if black nickel plating would be “right” for your design. We can almost instantly advise on the best metal color choice given your design elements to make your challenge coins unique.

Posted in Custom Challenge Coin Options | Comments Off

The Citadel Air Force ROTC Detachment 765 Challenge Coin

The Citadel - Military College of South CarolinaA perfect example of a custom coin manufactured in the form of a unique shape can be seen by taking a look at the recent Citadel Air Force ROTC Detachment 765 Challenge Coins. By using the characteristic shape of the symbolic building itself and red/white checkerboard quad inside each of the five barracks on location, the coin is immediately recognizable by staff, cadets, and alumni. Personalized elements are then included to specifically recognize ROTC Detachment 765.

The Citadel AF ROTC 765 Challenge CoinsThe coins are minted at 2.75″ in antiqued silver metal at 4mm thickness. This is a full millimeter thicker than standard coins and will surely turn heads upon being presented. Furthermore, one hundred of the 220 coins were numbered sequentially as an identifying mark to it’s owner.

The red and white checkerboard feature is what really makes this coin iconic. The original quad floor in each barrack requires 275 gallons of paint to finish each site; a total of nearly 1400 gallons to complete the entire campus. It is often these types of distinguished design elements that are used to make an average coin turn into something spectacular.

Nested in historic Charleston, South Carolina, The Citadel is recognized as one of the premier military educational institutions in the United States. Formerly known as “The South Carolina Military Academy,” the name was changed in 1910 and is now home to over two thousand cadets enrolled in undergraduate pursuits. The Citadel also caters to evening civilian student programs.

Accolades are no stranger to The Citadel. Major news organizations that rank both military colleges and civilian institutions have recognized The Citadel on several occasions for their Master’s Degree Programs, Engineering, and overall educational value.

Posted in The Citadel USAF ROTC | Comments Off

Making Custom Coins Unique

Submitted by Kirt Greene, Amarillo Tx

Challenge coins have been used by the military since World War I. They are artfully designed coins or medallions with an insignia, emblem or logo that represents the branch of the military or a particular unit or mission. It is an honor to receive a challenge coin as proof of membership. They strengthen bonds, promote friendships and are a morale booster.

Custom challenge coins have been made by the military for almost a hundred years that are personalized to educate the public about important issues, raise funds and honor exceptional individuals in the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marines and Coast Guard. They are always carried by the recipient as proof of membership if they are challenged at any time.

Custom CoinsToday, custom coins are popular with sports teams, universities, charity organizations, businesses and schools. They inspire a particular group to work well as a team and value the other members. They are also a good marketing tool for businesses and as a reward for a job well done.

Custom challenge coins are die struck and have deep etching that looks like an embossed design. The different finishes can be from simple pewter to solid 24K gold. A die struck brass or bronze coin is the strongest and will not scratch easily. Enamel paints can be added for bright colors that make the coin very attractive. This beautiful artwork adds to their intrinsic value. They can also be made in any shape, not just round. There are many in the shape of the country where the mission took place, the shape of a police badge, a rectangle, square or in the shape of the actual logo or emblem.

The information including the logo, text, colors, shape, type of metal and required size are given to the manufacturer. They give it to their designers who create a coin.

Military challenge coins must not be altered in any way, but businesses, non-profits and other civil organizations may make their custom coins into key chains, or put on the side of a coffee mug. These custom coins are more often displayed than hidden. The coin itself can be a bottle opener. They have all the art and information of a challenge coin with the added benefit that they are bottle openers.

Custom challenge coins are a commemorative product. Scout troops, church groups, professional associations, volunteers, sororities and fraternities are just a few of the associations who could make use of this inclusive prize.

Posted in Challenge Coins, Challenge Coins History, Custom Challenge Coins, Custom Coins, Military Challenge Coins | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Challenge Coins: Matters of Thickness

When it comes to challenge coins, or military coins, you will see many coins with varying degrees of thickness. While most are about 3mm thick, there are some that can be found at nearly 4 to 5mm thick. The increased base material presents itself by way of a much “heavier” and substantial piece.

US-Special-Operations Challenge CoinThere are some collectors out there that actively seek out such coins and hold them near and dear as opposed to their normal or standard coins. The downside of such thickness, traditionally speaking, is that the weight of the challenge coins in your pocket can be quite burdensome.

Typically you will see the elaborate 3D designs manufactured with extra base material. This adds dimension and depth to a custom challenge coin. Some great examples can be seen on the internet and auction sites and are mostly military oriented. However, there is a trend over the last year or so to have such coins made for weddings and sports teams as well.

The next time you are looking for a challenge coin to add to your collection, pay attention to thickness. This single feature can add some uniqueness to your collection.


Posted in Challenge Coin Thickness, Challenge Coin Trivia, Challenge Coin Uses, Challenge Coins, Custom Challenge Coin Options | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Many Shapes and Sizes of Custom Challenge Coins

Challenge coins are coin-like, round medallions which were first given to the Army Air Corp, a pre-existing version of the United States Air Force. Challenge coins were first designed and distributed sometime around World War I.

Challenge coins are a great keepsake item and are now used for many different forms of military service and also for private companies. Each represents a reward for a job well done or a specific challenge performed.

Custom challenge coins can be made in many different shapes and sizes, and have different weights. Some are colorized on the front and can be made to show a particular image which is representative of an organization. They often feature custom-made artwork and can even be made in varying styles such as a dog tag, which was the style of choice for the custom military coins made for the Operation Iraqi Freedom VII 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment. It had a pendant shaped design, which is unique among challenge coins. Shields are also popular as designs and so are different styles of crosses. For example, the Maltese Cross and the Iron Cross are often used in challenge coin designs. Most challenge coins are about 1.56” in diameter, but diameters of 1.75″ and 2″ are also popular.

Challenge coins can be made in fine detail, allowing the maker to put a lot of information in small print on the coin if he or she chooses. Many emblems, including flags, can go on challenge coins, or they can be quite simple in design. Stars, crests, and wings are among the many options for challenge coin designs.

Each branch of military service has different forms of military coins, differing from each other greatly. Other organizations which distribute custom challenge coins include the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club and the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Club. The Canadian military has recently started issuing them to their soldiers as well. Local police and fire departments in different U.S. states have issued them to their members, and so have many private companies. It is a great way of commemorating service, or time spent in a particular organization. The shape of the coin can easily reflect the type of organization it is made for.

Challenge coins come in many shapes, sizes, and with different logos, but are each symbolic of service to a particular organization. Collecting them is a unique and enjoyable experience.

Posted in Challenge Coin Trivia, Challenge Coins | Tagged | Leave a comment

Salute to Our Veterans – Especially My Father

Veterans of Foreign Wars Coin

Go out today and thank a Vet - they deserve it.

My friends will confirm this, but I spend a lot of time at the local VFW ( we call it the Country Club ) with my father, mother and brothers. Some great friendships have been born here over the years and Veterans Day is always a special event. Even though we started our “celebration” last night…we plan on making round two tonight even more special.

My father is a war vet – he fought for this country in Vietnam and I am extremely proud of his contributon to our freedom. What’s so great is the comraderie among the VFW members my family spends so much time with. We have vets from Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam…and everywhere else…if there was a US conflict, we’ve got a member who served. This place is truly family.

Just like many VFW Posts around the country, the walls of this small gathering place are adorned with pictures of past members and officers. Ribbons, medals, citations, and memorabilia are everywhere. It’s clear these guys are proud of their military service. Believe it or not, most of these guys I hang out with on a regular basis didn’t even know what a challenge coin was up until a few years ago. It is now the new topic of conversation over $2 beers.

The purpose of this post really has nothing to do with challenge coins at all. This post serves a big “THANK YOU” to my Dad, and all the other vets that make it possible for me to walk down the street of a free country, enjoy friends, and know that the lifestyle we ALL have is a debt we can never repay to our Veterans.

Now, go do something nice for a Vet today!

Posted in Challenge Coins, Military Coins, Veterans Day | Tagged , | Comments Off

Challenge Coins: Diverse Collectibles

Challenge coins are very popular and widely used within military organizations. These are usually given to all Airmen when they successful go through the training process. Others are given out when a person performs an act that deserves recognition but does not qualify to get a medal. They are usually treasured by the individuals who receive them. Over the years, the coins are not only used in the military as their use has spread to other institutions. Numerous clubs, organizations and businesses award them to their members. These are also sold at fundraisers.

Custom challenge coins can also be used as a marketing tool to promote various products. Normally, they are double sided about 2.9mm thick and 1.5 inches in diameter. However, they can be made in any way to suit the situation. Getting them is quite simple as all you have to do is give the manufacturers the specifications you want. The manufacturers create a mock up coin to be sure that is what you are looking for. You can make adjustments to get the exact design you want. When everything is in order, you can get a bulk order. The challenge coins are made from various materials with the most common one being bronze. Other than military, some of the institutions where they are used are:

Law Enforcement- police challenge coins are used to boost morale and award the people who have shown exceptional service. There are different ones for different departments that show the different challenges that people go through.

Fire Brigade- the firefighters are also given challenge coins when they have tackled a challenge successfully. They are usually given by a person who has higher ranking to enhance their importance. People in the unit are motivated to work harder to get the coins.

Such coins can sometimes be worn around the neck to display to the individuals around you. However, if you have several coins this might be a bother. One can get a beautiful case where they can be displayed. This can either be shown in the work place or where you live. There are some people who simply like collecting the coins. These individuals do not necessarily “earn” them but just collect them for personal reasons.

Challenge coins have to have the logo of the institution, which makes them easy to identify. They are used to show unity within a team. The owner is usually proud to have them as they signify a lot of hard work and sacrifice they went through to get them. There are some drinking games that are associated with the coins. This is where a person is subjected to a certain challenge. If they do not succeed, they have to buy drinks to everyone that is around. The person who gives out the challenge has to be in possession of a coin and gives orders to the person who does not have one. However, if all his mates have the coins he is forced to buy them drinks. This is a fun way to improve team spirit among members of a particular team.

Posted in Challenge Coins, Miscellaneous Challenge Coins Articles | Tagged | Comments Off

The Value of Challenge Coins

The use of challenge coins was, in the past, restricted to US military forces but with time, the functions of these valuable items have been stretched to include many other fields. They are featured prominently in many work places, academic institutions, and a variety of other contexts.

Military coins have become a precious collector’s item as a result of a number of features that they possess. They are very appealing in form and design and can therefore be used to create a beautiful display panel as a room’s centerpiece. They are also rare because every design only has a limited run and this is one of the most important features of collectibles. Their value to recipients is linked to the fact that they are only given out in recognition of a notable achievement. The metallurgical value of challenge coins is also high and these aspects in total make them a favorite for collectors.

These coins are also valued because of their steady rise in worth. Getting hold of rare custom challenge coins serves as a guarantee of a handsome profit in case one intends to sell them in future. The oldest military coins are the most valuable because there are very few of them in circulation and considering the rich heritage behind them, everyone wants a piece of the treasure. They therefore serve as a wise investment for a rainy day, with the promise of very high demand whenever they will be placed on a trading platform.

Additionally, these small medal-like coins have been given out by many an employer to recognize the efforts of workers. They are handed out to employees who manage special feats or in one way or another lead the organization to a position of advantage. They are also important symbols of camaraderie and they could be used to solidify the bonds between individual members of the workforce team.

The coins are also valued when issued out in commemoration of special events. It is common to have a company produce a set of custom challenge coins on their golden jubilee or any other significant date of their existence. These are held in the firm’s ‘treasure chest’ for years to come and serve as a reminder of how far the organization has come. It makes a very good method for preservation of an organization’s heritage. The different decorative patterns made on such coins make this kind of display very attractive and rich in meaning.

One of the most highly prized items on this line is referred to as the Bulldog Challenge Coin. It dates back to the Second World War and it was given to the few brave souls who fought in the decommissioned B-52 gunner. The worth of this coin is enhanced by the fact that the few who got them fought in the most vulnerable position, under the fighter jet encased in a pod.

Find out about other military coins as well and start your very own challenge coin collection, as it is both an exciting and highly rewarding endeavor.

Posted in Challenge Coins, Custom Challenge Coins, Investing in Challenge Coins | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Coming Soon – Challenge Coins Forum

challenge coins forumBe sure to check back soon for the launch of our brand new interactive forum. A great place to discuss, trade, and show off your military coins. There will be very little to no moderation, but we ask that you keep it clean for the young ones that may read. Share your buying and trading experiences to benefit others in the challenge coin community – sharing infromation is what its all about!

We anticipate the new forum to be live in about 2 weeks – see you there!

Posted in blog post, Challenge Coins, Challenge Coins Forum | Tagged | Leave a comment

Custom Challenge Coins Options

Challenge coins are becoming more and more popular with military organizations. The United States Air Force gives a challenge coin to every Airman when they graduate from Basic Training. Officers in every military branch often have coins made to give to soldiers who have performed acts that deserve recognition, but are not noteworthy enough to receive a medal. These coins are often treasured by the troops that receive them as if they were medals.

Options for Unique Challenge Coins

Several options are available to make your order of challenge coins stand out from the crowd.

The popularity of challenge coins has spread beyond the military. More businesses, clubs, and organizations are having challenge coins made to give to members, to sell at fundraisers, to use as awards or to recognize special achievements. Challenge coins can also be used to promote products or to advertise a service. Challenge coins can be used by almost any group, from little league teams to motorcycle clubs.

Typical challenge coins are double sided, 1.5″ in diameter and 2.9mm thick. However, custom challenge coins can be made to any specifications. The process of ordering custom challenge coins is simple; first, you must decide what artwork, logos or text you want on your coins and colors, if any. Then the manufacturer will use that information to create a digital proof, or mock-up of the coin. This will be your first look at the final appearance of your custom challenge coins. After you look at the proofs and suggest any changes if necessary, the dies will be made and coin production will begin. The cost of making the dies is likely to be several hundred dollars, but once made, the same dies can be used again and again to make more custom challenge coins when you have used or sold all the coins from your initial order.

The simplest custom challenge coins are usually made of bronze, with a design chemically or laser etched into the surface of the coin and then either polished or antique finished. High quality cloisonné coins are stamped from copper, filled with colored enamel powder and fired at 800-900 degrees, then ground smooth, polished, and gold, silver, or platinum plated. Sometimes cloisonné coins are coated in epoxy to further protect the coin’s surface. Soft enamel is similar to cloisonné, but instead of powdered enamel, liquid enamel is carefully applied to the coin before firing. This process is usually cheaper than cloisonné because it skips the grinding process. Soft enamel coins can be covered in epoxy for a smooth finish. Photo etching starts with an unstamped coin or coin “blank”. The design is chemically etched into the surface, and then color filled and baked. Like soft enamel coins, they can be coated with epoxy. Four color process is used when the customer wants a photographic design on their custom challenge coins. The advantage of using the 4 color process is lifelike detail and color. The disadvantage is that these coins must be covered in epoxy to preserve the design and may not be as durable as cloisonné or soft enamel.

Posted in Challenge Coins | Tagged | Comments Off