Want a beer? A quote? A large image? Just look to your custom-made challenge coin.

Not all military challenge coins are the same. A military challenge coin is a small coin that bears a unit’s insignia and is carried by its members. Traditionally, these coins are given to prove membership and to enhance morale.

The tradition of challenge coins likely began among the Special Forces units during the Vietnam War and spread to other units. As officers were reassigned, they carried the tradition of awarding coins for things that were worthy of special recognition, but not enough to merit an official medal.

The challenge begins when the challenger slaps his coin down on a table in a public gathering place, such as a restaurant or bar. All military personnel present must immediately produce the coin from his or her organization. Anyone failing to do so must buy a round of drinks for the entire group. Thus, the incentive to carry the challenge coin at all times, but it is not an easy task.

Some challenge coins have diverged from the traditional circular shape to take on the rectangular shaped “dog tag” or “dog tag” with a bottle opener.

Traditional military “dog tags” or ID tags, are lightweight metal tags with the wearer’s name, rank and serial number. They help identify individual military personnel at home and abroad. They especially help identify the dead in times of an uprising, conflict or war.

Dog-tagged shaped challenge coins stand apart mainly because of their rectangular shape. They’re larger than the popular 1.75-inch or 2-inch challenge coins. They’re usually 2.25 or 2.5 inches with 3 mm thickness.

Of course, the larger sized odd shaped “dog tag” costs more and takes a little longer than the traditional three weeks to create. At The Monterey Company, odd-shaped coins cost a $70 set-up fee and .50 cents per coin.

“A lot of military units like the dog-shaped challenge coin because they’re different, and are able to put more insignias and large amounts of text on them,” said a Monterey Company salesperson. “Their long shapes allow them to include long quotes of text from a favorite general or president. You cannot do that on a round challenge coin.”

Some dog tagged shaped challenge coins have evolved to including a bottle opener on one end. “This is especially helpful in the field when you need to open a bottle of pop, water or beer,” said one military customer. “When you use your challenge coin as a tool every day, you’re more likely to carry it with you.”

Traditional rules mandate that you cannot deface a challenge coin, especially if it makes it easier to carry it, such as attaching it to a key chain. However, it’s perfectly acceptable to include a bottle opener on one end.

For samples of images of dog tags and dog tags with bottle openers, please look under “challenge coins” on this web site. And for help with designing your challenge coin, call The Monterey Company toll free at 877-290-9287.