Custom Challenge Coins

Custom 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. 

custom challenge coins

Challenge Coin Company

The Monterey Company has been the challenge coin maker and industry’s leader in Military, police, and fire academy 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 creation will be worthy of the brave, selfless, and service-driven people who receive them. Like all of the products we offer, custom 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.

Quality Designs

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.

custom made challenge coin
custom coin for military

What does it mean to get a military coin?

What does it mean to be given a challenge coin? The act of gifting coins is done subtly, without pomp and circumstance, and is used to award someone of an honorable act or job well done, Once gifted, they are meant to be carried indefinitely, representing membership and allegiance to the organization from which the coin came. They are growing in popularity amongst non-military organizations, businesses, and fraternities and clubs.

What are Challenge Coins? They are small, ornate coins and medallions with origins in the American Military. They are adorned with the insignia of the organization or club they represent, are gifted to members for commemorating membership, promoting camaraderie, and boosting morale. They are given throughout branches of the military, law enforcement, and other service-driven organizations.

Military coins commemorate the achievement and special events, encourage camaraderie, and promote the 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.

military challenge coin
enamel military designed coin
challenge coin
military coins

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, firefighters, navy, army, air force, and marine corps coins.

Designing Military Coins

Upon your approval of your design proof, sent to you at no charge, we will begin creating the 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.

Custom Designed

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.

dog tag shaped coin Iraqi Freedom

Personalized Challenge Coins

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. We also make dog tag coins that can include your logo.

3d coin manufacturer

Challenge Coin Maker

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.

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.

Need More Information?

Request A Quote and We Speak To Your Dedicated Account Manager  

challenge coin history

What Are Challenge Coins Used For?

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

Honoring 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. custom 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.

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
custom challenge coin design
personalized challenge coin

What does it mean to be given a challenge coin?

As the story goes, one wealthy lieutenant had a 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.

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. 

In addition to the widespread use in the military, and across police and fire academies, is the increasing use with organizations like NASCAR and the NFL to university fraternities and Eagle Scouts, gifting custom medallions is a growing tradition.

Canadian International Rescue Organization coin
military challenge coin

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 is known for its superb quality and artistry.  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 awards 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 designs.

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.

Firefighters also use military 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 a 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.

military challenge coin

Custom Military Coins

Our military coins can be made to order with or without color. We make designs in any shape or size and we can create a design in days! They can be made for squadrons, military units, and battalions for a myriad of reasons. Commemorating a particular event or tour, build camaraderie in a group, create a piece of collectible commemorative art, celebrate milestones or signify affiliation or membership in a unit or squadron.

The U.S. Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army, and Coast Guard have been ordering military coins from The Monterey Company for years. We have created orders for EMS, fire and police departments from around the country, as well as for many agencies abroad. Used to boost morale and give rewards and awards and they are treasured by those who receive them.

Air Force

Air Force coins will normally bear the logo or emblem of a particular squadron. As custom commands, affiliates of a particular squadron carry the coin in order to prove membership when challenged.

We can help you create a unique Air Force Squadron artwork with impressive 3D detailing. All you need to do is provide us with a photograph of the aircraft you want to represent on your air force coin and our artists will bring it to life. Be sure to check out our gallery to see examples of our past work for Air Force orders.

air force military Coins
military challenge coins

Army

Army coins are specialized bearing the insignia or emblem of a particular squadron or unit of the U.S. Army. The significance pertains to a legend dating back to World War I. So strong is the resulting tradition that, nearly a century later, military personnel habitually carry their awards with them.

Marine Corps

When you want to recognize a member of the United States Marine Corps, a USMC coin is a commemorative way to do it. This sophisticated message of pride and commendation is communicated through an ornate and well-crafted military coin that will be treasured for a lifetime.

Our military designs are made for the Marines and are the highest caliber available. We tirelessly keep to this standard because we know that superior quality is the only way to honor the achievements of an enlistee or officer of the Marine Corps.

National Guard

Just like the National Guard of the United States, The Monterey Company is “always ready, always there,” to serve your coin minting needs. The dedication of the servicemen and women that serve is far-reaching and courageous. We take great pride in providing a small service to those who live their daily lives in service.

Coast Guard

We offer the highest quality products and a knowledgeable and friendly sales team. Call us at (877) 290-9290 or request a free quote online for Coast Guard coins.

national guard coins
navy military coins

Navy

Memorialize your vessel and your unit by creating a uniquely designed and crafted custom navy coin. By creating a small sculptural token containing the mottos and insignia that remind you of your company and your dedication, you can memorialize your navy experience. We also make navy seal coins.

challenge coin history

Challenge Coin History

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.

Designing military coins is easy! Send us your design and we will create a proof for your review and approval. You can make changes to your design and we will make a suggestion on adding epoxy, enamel color, and 3D areas to enhance your logo.