The Ultimate Guide to Challenge Coin Rules - Everything You Need to Know

June 22, 2023

There are a lot of traditions and etiquette surrounding challenge coins. Understanding them is essential for anyone that has a currency.

There are many things to consider, from the coin check to the specific etiquette of showing your coin to others. This article will cover all the basics so you can fully participate in this time-honored tradition.

Rules of the Game

While to outsiders challenge coins might look like just fancy collectibles; they are shrouded in authentic tradition and foster a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood. To play the game, all players must clearly understand the rules. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and can participate confidently. It's also crucial that any new members to the group—whether they're newly enlisted cadets or officers in training —have their questions answered.

The game's rules can be pretty complicated, but it all boils down to simple guidelines. First, the coin must be visible at all times. This means it should be open, not hidden inside a holster or bag. If you are out with a group of friends and someone challenges you, it's best to be able to produce your coin immediately. If you can't, you are required to buy drinks for the challenger.

The following rule is that challenges should not be made at inappropriate times. For example, challenging a fellow member while showering or eating would be poor form. This may create an unnecessary cycle of retaliatory challenges that can damage the group's morale and build a sense of mistrust among the members.


The origin of challenge coins is unknown, but one story involves the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA. OSS agents often went on covert missions, and they would show their coin to others to be recognized for their work. This led to a sense of camaraderie and esprit de corps among the agents.

Today, challenge coins are used by various military and law enforcement organizations. Sports teams also use them to honor their fans. For example, the National Football League, the NBA, and the NHL stamp their challenge coins for fans to buy.

Following challenge coin rules and treating these coins with respect is essential. They are honorable symbols and should not be worn by anyone who does not belong to the group or organization that issued them. They should not be publicly displayed or used as a fashion accessory. In addition, they should be kept clean and in good condition.

Understanding the etiquette of challenging someone with a challenge coin is also essential. It is best only to challenge people wearing their cash, and it is necessary to explain the game's rules before handing out a challenge. Challenging someone at an inappropriate time can lead to a cycle of retaliatory challenges and ruin the game's spirit.


Most challenge coin traditions come from the military, and there are specific points of etiquette that every player must follow. This includes how they behave, communicate, and show their coin to others.

For example, dropping your coin or allowing someone else to touch it could be a better form. This is because doing so can give them a glimpse of the special significance your cash holds and undermine the integrity of the game. Likewise, wearing your coin as a belt buckle or jewelry is unacceptable. Putting your coin on a necklace or strap around your neck is also considered poor form, and you should not drill holes into your currency.

Additionally, it would help if you always kept your coin in your hands when showing it to other people so they can look closely at it. Handing it to someone is considered giving it to them, and you should not put your coin down on a table or surface for other people to see.

Lastly, while challenging people in the coin check game can be fun and build morale, you should only challenge a few people or do so to get free drinks. This behavior can cause the game to become stale and lead to some individuals being challenged too often just for personal gain.

Rules for Challenges

The rules for challenges are essential if you're a group member with challenge coins and go out to bars. The goal is to win by challenging someone in your group to present their cash. If they do so, you must buy everyone in their group drinks. This keeps the game fun and fair, ensuring nobody exploits the system by continuously challenging other members for free drinks.

A coin check is when someone calls for everyone nearby to show their coin. This can be done by silently holding their cash in the air, slamming it on a table, or using other methods. It's usually a quick process and shouldn't be overly dramatic. If you have a coin, always have it on your person to produce it when needed.

Adding numbering to your challenge coin is an excellent way to show its history and ensure it stays unique. It can be added on the face of your currency or along its edge, depending on what you're looking for. Having your cash numbered makes it more recognizable and prevents others from stealing it. It's also important to know that you can't add or remove any parts of your challenge coin once it has been made, which includes drilling holes or attaching mounts.

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Samantha Williams
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