The challenge coin game is a military tradition with murky roots. The game is played where one service member at a bar challenges another to present their challenge coin. If the challenged doesn't have their coin, they have to buy the challenger a drink. If the challenged service member has their coin, they get a round on the challenger.
Few people play the game anymore, but unit coin designs say a lot about a command. Here are some of the best challenge coin designs we've seen.
1. U.S. Army diver coin
It's cut into a cool shape and has many of the Army's diver badges on it. It both identifies the holder and calls them to go after even higher certifications as a diver.
2. The Mickey Mouse challenge coin
The military has a long history with co-opting copyrighted materials for its unit coins, murals, and posters. While most units go for something violent or that caters to an adult crowd, the Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando made one that reminded everyone just how easy it is to get to Walt Disney World from the center. It's a 40-minute drive.
3. Trample the weak
Most units, especially in the Army and Marine Corps, go aggressive. But this Airborne infantry coin went the extra mile to remind everyone that the infantry has one job and Chosen Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade plans on being good at it.
4. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
The most senior enlisted man in the Navy has to represent, and this coin from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West lets everyone know where the coin came from. The cut of the coin is very impressive as well, with a gold chain trailing down the anchor.
5. South Park
The South Park coin is a popular design. Everyone just changes the location and calls it a day. It gets laughs and lets the holder brag about their former duty stations.
6. Friday the 13th
For Navy chief petty officers, one of the major ceremonies is being accepted into the chief petty officer mess hall. The men given this coin were accepted on Friday the 13th and were rewarded with an awesome coin.
7. Aggressive POW-MIA coin (via Military-memes)
The barbed wire and flag of the National League of POW/MIA call to mind the nature of life for prisoners of war while the crossed rifles hammer home the meaning of, "... or send us back."
These clever coins remind sailors of the ball they went to by appearing as their tickets into the event.
9. Medal of Honor challenge coin
While the coin's design is fairly basic, it's also well done and instantly tells people that the bearer has met one of the nation's greatest heroes.
10. Submariner memorial coin
Members of the Silent Service patrol the world's oceans 24/7. This coin lists the hull numbers of every ship lost to the depths.
11. The poker chip
Poker chip coins are lightweight, iconic, and allow a phrase to be printed on the edge of the coin. This one celebrates the Marine Corps School of Infantry.
12. The classic stamp
The classic stamped metal disc is a great coin design that seems most commonly used by iconic units. The Marine helicopter squadron of HMX-1 that flies the President gave out this coin.
13. Clear challenge coin
It's hard to tell from the photo, but this coin is clear. It's a rare choice that makes it stand out despite a relatively simple design.
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