Challenge Coin Rules

Challenge coins make excellent commemorative gifts, but they mean a lot more than that, too. For ages, groups like the military have used challenge coins to play a simple yet exciting (and slightly devious) game. The winner gets a free drink, while the loser has to pay up. It’s a low-stakes way to build camaraderie with your buddies.

Below, we’ve compiled the most extensive list of challenge coin rules on the web.

The Challenge Coin Tradition

Challenge coins are handed out informally to individuals to reward them for their service in a unit or for a particular achievement. This is common across the military, law enforcement, and firefighters.

The basic challenge coin traditions are very similar:

  1. Your friend slaps a challenge coin down on the bar.
  2. You produce your own challenge coin
  3. The person with the highest-ranking coin “wins”
  4. You wind up buying them a drink.

Now, let’s get into the differences between services.

challenge coin rules

Military Challenge Coin Rules

Challenge coins became popular in the U.S. Military during World War I, when newly formed flying squadrons had special bronze coins made to commemorate their units. Rewarding challenge coins to military service members has become an informal tradition. Along with this is the tradition of the “coin check.”

Military challenge coin rules are simple, but you must follow them carefully, or else you’ll be the one buying the next round of drinks. A coin check can be initiated at any time by an service members, so it’s important to keep a challenge coin on you at all times!

Here’s the protocol for challenge coin exchanges:

    1. Draw your coin and loudly announce that you’re starting a challenge coin check. You can also slam your coin down on a table or bar counter to start a challenge. Be careful not to accidentally drop the coin, as you’ll immediately start a coin check whether you want to or not.
    2. The person you’re challenging has 15 seconds to produce their coin.
    3. If the person you’ve challenged cannot produce their coin in the allotted time, they must buy you a drink. If, on the other hand, they do produce their coin, you must buy them a drink instead.

challenge coinFailure to buy a drink after losing a coin challenge is highly frowned upon and a serious breach of etiquette. It’s such a no-no that you might even have to return your coin.There are some variations to the rules depending on the branch of service.

In the Marine Corps, often you are challenged with a coin to see who’s outranks the other. You might have a coin from a division commander, but your buddy who challenged you with the Commandant’s challenge coin wins — and you owe him a drink

Firefighter Challenge Coin Rules

Firefighters may take things to the next level when doing a coin check. Some departments will challenge you whether you’re clothed or not, only allowing one step and one arm’s reach to produce your coin.

challenge coin rules

Challenge Coin Etiquette

The challenge coin game has several other etiquette rules you ought to follow. They include:

  • Everyone must know the challenge coin rules. It’s unfair to challenge someone if they don’t know how the game works.
  • You should always keep your coin on you, as you never know when someone might issue a challenge.
  • You can’t issue a challenge to someone who doesn’t have a coin (like a civilian friend). If you do, you’re being rude!
  • Coin checks are allowed anywhere and at any time. You can issue a coin challenge at work, a bar, a restaurant, or wherever else you like.
  • Keep it respectful.

When and How To Give Someone a Challenge Coin

If you’d like to play the challenge coin game with someone but they don’t have a coin yet, you’ll need to give them one. Challenge coins are special, though, and you must treat them as such. Never hand out a challenge coin “just because.”

Traditionally, challenge coins go to members of the military, police, and firefighters in recognition of something awesome they’ve done. You may also give a challenge coin to someone to mark their initiation into a group, such as a sports team or club.

challenge coin rulesOnce you’ve decided who to give a challenge coin to, you’ll have to choose how to do it properly. You can give a challenge coin with much fanfare or none at all.

You could bestow the recipient with a challenge coin at a special event. For instance, if you’re having a party to recognize a fellow officer’s selfless deeds, you could present them with the coin then.

It’s traditional to pass the coin over while shaking hands. Some believe the handoff should be kept private from the rest of the group out of reverence and respect. Regardless of how you hand over the coin to someone, they’ll feel honored to receive it.

Create Challenge Coins They’re Going To Love

Embleholics provides free quotes, artwork, and molds for custom challenge coins. We’ve created coins for all branches of the military, for firefighters and law enforcement, and even Masonic lodges.

We pride ourselves on delivering the best quality challenge coins for your unit. Reach out today for a free quote!