Custom Challenge Coins

Challenge coins are awarded for many reasons throughout branches of the military, across fire and police academies, in various athletic associations, and more, and have value far beyond the quality of the metals and materials used within. They commemorate achievement and special events, encourage camaraderie, and promote togetherness within their respective communities. And although these affiliation coins have been around for many years, they have evolved in recent years, taking on nuanced social relevance, turning them into the “challenge coins,” they are today.

custom challenge coins

Police, Fire & Military Challenge Coins

Monterey Home » Challenge Coins

Quality Challenge Coin Design

The Monterey Company has been the challenge coin maker and industry’s leader in Military, police, and fire academy challenge medallions and coins for nearly thirty years, creating quality, professional, and official products that you can’t find anywhere else. Combining the years of experience of skilled artists and designers with the best equipment and materials in the industry, your custom creations will be worthy of the brave, selfless, and service-driven people who receive them. Like all of the products we offer, challenge coins are highly customizable, with a variety of materials and styles to choose from, ensuring your insignia is represented in the best way possible.

When you send us your logo or use a previous design, our artists will work with you to begin customizing your complementary proof with the specific variations you seek. They will make suggestions based on which materials lend themselves well to specific design components, and offer assistance throughout the entirety of the decision-making process.

military challenge coin
bronze challenge coin
military officer coin
challenge coin
custom air force coin

The Monterey Company has been making coins for police and fire departments for decades. We offer free design proofs. All we need is your insignia or logo and any design ideas you may have. As a leading coin company, we receive new and repeat orders from every branch of the military including orders for police coins, firefighter coins, navy coins, army coins, air force coins, and marine corps coins.

Design Options & Enhancements

How are challenge coins made?

Some of these decisions or variations available when thinking about your design are whether you want your coin’s base metal to be in bronze or copper. The material you choose will affect the weight, look, and feel of your overall product, as well as affect the cost of your order. You’ll also want to choose whether or not to add enamel color to the surface of your design. With access to an impressive selection of colors, with everything from forest green to fire engine red, we are capable of matching the scheme of your logo or insignia with absolute preciseness. Of course, multiple colors are available to you, capable of fitting as many as your design will allow.

Design Options

Upon your approval of your design proof, sent to you at no charge, we will begin creating the custom mold that will be used in our die struck method of coin making. Once the mold is made, we will either send you a sample of your creation, per your request, or we will begin the production process. Once production begins, you can expect your products to be beautifully crafted and shipped within 2-3 weeks. This time will vary per design, the materials required, and the quantity of the order. We have many options to choose from including enamel options and a variety of plating options.

Making custom shaped coins is what we do!

Custom Shapes Make Your Design Stand Out! Not all coins are the same due to their unique uses and design options. Custom shapes coins are unique as the logo included in their design.

dog tag shaped coin Iraqi Freedom

Traditionally, challenge coins have been used by the armed forces and now used by fire and police departments. Armed Forces have a tradition of awarding coins for things that were worthy of special recognition. Companies use them as morale boosters as well to commemorate special events. Traditional circular shapes and rectangular shapes have evolved with many companies into creating shapes that are unusual including bottle openers shaped designs. Bottle openers are especially helpful in the field when you need to open a soda or a beer.

Three Easy Steps To Ordering

challenge coin with cut outs

Our process makes it easy for our customers to order

  1. We’ll work with you to create an original design or we can customize a pre-existing idea you may have. The Monterey Company is full of experienced staff that can provide you with suggestions to enhance or modify your design as needed in order to ensure that your coin is perfectly suited for production.
  2. Once you approve a final design, the mold is die-struck into thick bronze or copper. Both sides are struck at the same time, then electroplated, sandblasted and polished. Hard enamel color is added before polishing and soft enamel is added after polishing.
  3. Production time varies depending on the style of the coin you choose. However, it normally takes between 2 to 3 weeks to create your coins after the design has been established. Rush jobs are able to be accommodated for an additional charge.

Ordering is easy!

Other design options include the type of finish you’d like for your challenge coin, including antique or glossy varieties, base metal and coin edge textures, and finishing options, like adding epoxy. Because of the multitude of customizable options, and because we value your customer experience, we encourage you to work with a member of our talented staff in designing your coin, as different variations work best with specific materials and processes. We will include in every step of the way and will ensure you get exactly the product you’re looking for and make the ordering process simple.

Why choose the Monterey Company for your custom made challenge coins?

The cost of your order will also vary, but we guarantee, at The Monterey Company, that we are providing you with the best quality product in the most efficient way. Request a quote and start working with us today!

challenge coin design

What Are Challenge Coins Used For?

These coins are carried by members of the military, police and fire department. They are used in challenges and to enhance the morale of the recipients. In addition, they are also highly collected by the armed service members.

  • To commemorate a mission or celebrate a milestone
  • To build camaraderie in a troop
  • To create a collectible commemorative coin

Challenge Coins Honor Achievements For Nearly 100 years

Military challenge coins have been around since the first World War. During that time air warfare was a new concept. Air squadrons were manned by men from all walks of life, unlike earlier wars when the militia was manned from the working class. Military challenge coins have been around since the first World War. A lot has changed in the manufacturing process over the decades. Military personnel that order military coins now can have a design made in days. Coins can include soft or hard enamel as well as diamond cut edged and engraving. Epoxy can also be added to protect the enamel color. 3D Designs can be made one-sided or two-sided.  The Monterey Company is a leading coin maker for every branch of the military.

How do you receive a coin?

Government organizations other than the military branches as well as special interest groups have Coins made to commemorate holidays like Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, membership, graduations, accomplishments and many other significant days.  The tradition of giving them out in the military for these reasons increased during the Vietnam War with the Special Forces Units and then spread to others over time.  They didn't become common however until the Persian Gulf war of 1990-1991. President Bill Clinton received many military service members' coins as a symbol of respect while in office.  He kept the growing collection on display on the credenza in the Oval Office.  The collection now lives at the Clinton Library.  The tradition has continued as both George Bush and President Barak Obama have also received coins by military personnel.

Soft and Hard Enamel

soft enamel challenge coin
3d military coin
military challenge coin design

What does it mean to be given a challenge coin?

As the story goes, one wealthy lieutenant had a custom coin created for his squadron as a memento of their service together. One of the soldiers, never having had anything of value in his life, became so attached to it that he took to wearing it in a pouch around his neck for safekeeping. It ended up saving his life after being captured behind enemy lines. When the French took the German camp all he had to identify himself as an ally was the squadron coin. Thus began the tradition of carrying one’s squadron coin at all times for recognition and identification. Today, custom military coins are used for more than the traditional military challenge. They are given out to military and non-military personnel alike for morale-boosting, rewards and awards.

Are the only for the military?

In addition to being a widespread phenomenon throughout the Military, and across police and fire academies, is the increasing prevalence of custom pieces in other realms as well. From organizations like NASCAR and the NFL to university fraternities and Eagle Scouts, gifting custom medallions is a growing tradition.

Who else use this coin style?

In addition to being used for challenges, these coins are used today to recognize exceptional acts of service or merit that don’t quite meet the standards necessary for receiving official merit-based medals, like the medal of honor. Instead, these coins are used to acknowledge achievements worthy of recognition that would otherwise go un-commemorated. Coins of this nature are commonly awarded through a handshake, in which the coin is passed from the awarder’s hand to the awardee. In this exchange, it is customary for the person gifting the coin to offer a brief explanation, articulating the reasons why the recipient is worthy of the gifted medallion. 

Canadian International Rescue Organization coin
firefighter design

Who else use this coin style?

Challenge Coins show affiliation and the tradition has now become part of NASCAR, the NFL, and the World Series Of Poker.  Police and Fire departments across the country are using them as well.  Monterey Company has become the leading maker of coins and is known for the superb quality and artistry of the coins made.  We are so proud to be part of this growing tradition. It's exciting that the tradition is now crossing borders.  Canadian Forces are now giving coins to new officer cadets that graduate from the Royal Military College. What was once known to them as an 'Americanism,' is now a growing tradition as well.  Other countries, such as Switzerland, are also beginning to pick up the tradition by having different branches of the military create their own coins.

We create military coins, police coins, firefighter coins, navy coins, army medals or marine corps coins. We have low minimum quantities and fast production times and we give all of our customers the best quality, best prices, and top-notch customer service. Learn more about how the military use coins on Wikipedia.

Firefighters also use challenge coins

It's exciting that the tradition is now crossing borders. Canadian Forces are now giving Challenge Coins to new officer cadets that graduate from the Royal Military College. What was once known to them as an 'Americanism' is now a growing tradition as well. Other countries, such as Switzerland, are also beginning to pick up the tradition by having different branches of the military create their own coins. Our coins are die struck in bronze or brass and allow for great detail of your design. We are a phone call away and our staff will work closely with you to design the best-looking coin you would be proud to hand out. We also offer firefighter patches.

Tradition & History

personalized Challenge Coins

The significance and history of the challenge coin

The “challenge” in challenge coins comes from the idea that if you are a member of an organization from which you receive a specialized medallion to demonstrate affiliation, that the medallion you’ve been awarded should be kept with you at all times. This tradition originated from an American World War 1 pilot, who was saved by wearing his squadron’s coin around his neck when he was captured by a German patrol, and consequently, stripped of his formal identification. After being moved to a small French town, the American escaped and was able to prove his affiliation with the American military to the French allies because of the coin in the pouch hanging from his neck.

To commemorate the significance of carrying the life-saving medallion, recipients of modern military coins are liable to “challenge” any of their brothers and sisters of service by producing their respective coins at random, checking to see if the other members of their branches or academies are also carrying their coins as the tradition expects.

If any members of the squadron or team are unable to produce their coin, therefore failing the “challenge,” they are responsible for buying a round of drinks for everyone appropriately carrying their medallions on their person. If the challenge is met, however, and everyone within the group is able to produce their coin, the challenger, or the person who initially bore his medallion, must buy a round of drinks for his coin-carrying counterparts. The challenge is a fun way to honor the tradition of wearing organizational affiliation with pride, because one’s membership within their group, as demonstrated by carrying the coin, is woven into the fabric of one’s identity.

Take the next step and request a quote today!

The Monterey Company is a leading coin maker for every branch of the military and has been designing military challenge coins in soft and hard enamel colors and specialing in 3D designs.'