Choosing The Right Size For Your Custom Challenge Coins

October 16, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Challenge coins are common among military organizations, police, and fire departments.
  • Challenge coins come in various sizes, with 1.5, 1.75, and 2 inches being the most popular.
  • Consider the purpose, design, budget, and text size when choosing the size.
  • Also, consider the enamel, plating, color, and edging when choosing the size.

Designing a custom challenge coin can be fun. However, knowing what size you need is important before getting too far into the process.

Challenge coins are available in many sizes, with the standard ranging from 1.25” to 3.5” in diameter. The most popular sizes are 1.5” and 2” as these allow the design to be clear and intricate details to be visible. The thickness ranges from 3 to 6mm, with 3mm being the most common.

The possibilities for custom challenge coins seem almost endless. Along with the size, you can customize the thickness, color, design, plating type, finish, edge design, and more. Keep reading as we discuss choosing the perfect size for your custom challenge coin project based on your requirements. We also touch on other factors to consider in this guide to custom challenge coins before placing your order.

Table of Contents

Brief History of Challenge Coins

Challenge coins have been traced back to Ancient Rome and Emperor Hadrian. Modern challenge coins date back to the First World War. One popular legend states that an officer had coins minted for his unit to show brotherhood and loyalty.

Later, one of the men lost all his belongings but was able to keep the coin hidden in his boots. This allowed him to prove who he was to the American troops, who mistook him for a German Spy.

Many stories like this one come to one important point: challenge coins are symbols of camaraderie, membership, and achievement. They serve as a way for individuals to connect with and remember their unit, organization, or group and to showcase their pride in their affiliation.

Over time, the tradition of challenge coins has spread beyond the military. It is now used by many organizations, from law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and sports teams to corporations and non-profit organizations. Yet, regardless of how they are used, challenge coins continue to serve as a powerful symbol of unity and brotherhood and a reminder of shared experiences and achievements.

What are Common Uses for Challenge Coins?

The purpose of a custom challenge coin can vary depending on the organization or individual commissioning the coin. Some common uses for challenge coins include:

  • Camaraderie and unity: Challenge coins often promote fellowship and harmony within a group, such as a military unit or a sports team. They serve as a symbol of brotherhood and a reminder of shared experiences and achievements.
  • Membership: Challenge coins are a symbol of membership within an organization. They serve as a way for individuals to connect with and remember their unit, organization, or group and to showcase their pride in their affiliation.
  • Recognition and achievement: Challenge coins are used to recognize and reward achievement. They are a tangible symbol of success and a reminder of past accomplishments.
  • Promotion and marketing: Challenge coins can be used for promotional purposes, such as handing them out at events or as part of a marketing campaign.
  • Collectibles: Challenge coins can also be collected and traded, serving as a unique form of memorabilia and a symbol of personal interests and hobbies.

Regardless of the purpose, challenge coins serve as a powerful symbol of unity, brotherhood, and achievement and a tangible reminder of shared experiences and accomplishments.

What are the Standard Challenge Coin Sizes?

Challenge coins are produced in sizes ranging from 1.25 to 3.5”. The most common sizes made are coins measuring 1.5 to 2”. However, challenge coins can be made in any size; the only limit is your imagination and the manufacturer's capabilities.

What to Consider When Choosing a Size

While working on a custom challenge coin project, one of the first decisions should be the size of the coin. The size dictates many factors, including the budget and design intricacy. Generally, the 2” size allows ample space for intricate details to shine without being too large or overly costly.

Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide the perfect size for your custom challenge coin.

What is the Purpose of the Custom Challenge Coin?

The size of the coin can vary based on how it is used. For example, consider some of the following:

  • Everyday carry: If the coin is meant to be carried by individuals daily, a smaller size may be more practical and convenient, such as a 1.5” coin.
  • Display item: If the coin is meant to be displayed, a larger size may be more appropriate, such as a 2” coin, to showcase the design and details.
  • Recognition and achievement: For recognition and achievement coins, a larger size may be more impressive and serve as a better symbol of success, such as a 2” coin.
  • Marketing and promotion: For promotional purposes, a larger size may be more effective in attracting attention, such as a 2” coin.
  • Collectible: For collectible coins, a larger size may be preferred for display purposes, but a smaller size may be more practical for everyday carry and display.

What is the Budget for the Challenge Coin Project?

The budget can impact the size of your challenge coin. Larger coins will cost more to make than their smaller counterparts due to how much more metal and labor are required to produce them.

Additionally, the budget can impact the challenge coins design's level of detail and complexity, the type of plating and finish, and the addition of any special features such as cutout shapes, color, and edge designs.

Best Challenge Coin Size on a Budget

If the budget is really tight, a 1.5” coin is one of the best options. It requires fewer materials than the 2” coin, and the design will not suffer. Another way to keep costs down is by choosing a simpler design without colors and a raw edge and finish.

When you work with us, we consider all this to make the perfect custom challenge coin for your organization's needs.

How Intricate is the Challenge Coin Design?

The intricacy of the design will impact the price of a custom coin. For example, a more complex structure with multiple colors, fine details, and special features will typically cost more than a simpler design with fewer elements.

One big factor is the color. The more color and the number of different colors can impact the cost as the coin will be more labor-intensive. However, it will also result in a higher-quality, more eye-catching challenge coin.

When deciding on the design for your challenge coin, it is important to consider your budget and determine the level of detail that you want to include. You may need to make compromises on the design to stay within your budget, or you may choose to invest in a more intricate design that will better represent your organization or unit.

Is Any Custom Edging Needed on the Coin?

The edge of a challenge coin is an important aspect that can impact both the appearance and the cost of the coin. The border can be left as a standard flat edge or customized with different styles, such as bevel cut, spur cut, or beveled edges.

Custom edging can add a unique and distinctive touch to your challenge coin, but it will also increase the project's cost. This is because custom edging typically requires additional steps in the manufacturing process and can require specialized equipment.

When considering custom edging, it is important to weigh the cost against the desired effect. Custom edging may be worth the investment if you want to create a high-quality, eye-catching challenge coin that will stand out. If cost is a primary concern, a standard edge may be the better option.

Is There a Traditional Size For the Challenge Coin?

If this isn't the first challenge coin your organization has made, there might be some traditional size standards in place. However, choosing the same size as previous mintings allows you to maintain the classic look and have consistency in the design.

If your organization has a history of producing challenge coins, there might already be a traditional size standard. However, if this is the first time your organization is creating a challenge coin or if you wish to make a coin different from previous designs, you can establish a new standard by choosing a unique size.

When deciding on the size, it's crucial to consider various factors, such as the coin's purpose, the budget available, the intricacy of the design, and any custom edging requirements.

What Thickness Should the Coin Be?

Choosing the thickness of the coin goes hand in hand with the diameter. The thicker the coin, the heavier it will be. This might be fine for a display piece, but carrying it around can be cumbersome. For example, a 2” and 3mm coin weighs approximately two ounces. If the thickness is 6mm, you can expect the weight to double too.

For example, a coin carried in a wallet or used as a keychain will likely benefit from a thinner design, while a larger display coin might be thicker.

In addition to weight, the coin's thickness will also affect its durability. A thicker coin will generally be more resistant to bending or breaking, making it ideal for coins that will be frequently handled or passed around.

What Size Does the Organization Prefer?

Along the same lines as the organization having a standard size, there might be a preferred size. On the other hand, maybe it is time for a change, and a 3” challenge coin made for displaying sounds good. If many people in the group like to carry the coin around and the current size is too large for some members, consider a 1.75” coin. Ultimately, it is important to strike a balance between the organization's preferences, practical considerations, and the desired impact of the coin.

How to Design for the Selected Size

Now that we have covered what to consider when choosing the perfect challenge coin size let us look at some examples of how to ensure your design fits perfectly and looks great. Here are some tips to guarantee the design works well:

  • Balance: The design elements should be proportional to the size. For example, if you have selected a 1.5” coin, you want to ensure that the design elements don't take up too much space, leaving the coin looking cluttered. On the other hand, a 3” coin can look too big with only a few small images and texts.
  • Details: Consider the level of detail you want to include in your design. A smaller coin may not be able to accommodate as much detail as a larger coin, so make sure your design fits the size you've chosen.
  • Text: When including text or numbers in your design, keep the font size proportional to the coin size. For smaller coins, it's best to use a smaller font size, while larger coins can accommodate larger text.
  • Margins: Ensure to leave enough margin around the design elements to ensure they don't get cut off when the coin is struck.
  • Overall Size: When submitting your design, present it at the correct size. Use a vector file to ensure it scales properly without losing quality.

What Else to Consider When Designing Custom Challenge Coins

Size alone is not the only factor to consider. Here is a quick rundown of other things to keep in mind:

Plating Options

Coin plating options are an important factor to consider when designing challenge coins. Different plating options can impact the coin's overall appearance, durability, and cost. Here are some of the most common plating options:

  • Gold plating is often used to create a luxurious look and feel, and it is typically the most expensive plating option.
  • Silver plating is a less expensive option compared to gold plating, and it is often used for coins that are meant to be displayed.
  • Bronze plating is a more affordable option and is often used for coins that are meant to be used and handled regularly.
  • Antique plating is a popular option for coins that have a vintage or classic look.

Choosing the right challenge coin plating option best fits your design and budget is important. Additionally, the thickness of the plating can also impact the cost of the coin, with thicker plating typically costing more.

Enamel Options

Enamel options significantly affect a custom coin's design and overall look. Therefore, the type and number of enamel colors used, as well as the application method, can have a significant impact on the cost of the coin.

Soft enamel challenge coins are the most popular option as it is cost-effective and creates a smooth and vibrant color finish. On the other hand, hard enamel is more expensive but provides a smooth, glass-like, durable, and long-lasting finish.

Other enamel options, such as offset printing or dye-sublimated enamel, offer unique visual effects and can enhance the coin's overall design.

Color Options

Full-color coins with multiple hues and shades can be produced using offset printing, allowing for a greater range of color options but increasing the cost. Single-color coins are also an option, with the design engraved and filled with color. Some coins are produced with an antique finish to give them an aged look.

Choosing the right color options that match the organization's branding or purpose is important. For example, bright, eye-catching colors might be appropriate for a promotional coin, while more subdued tones might better suit a military unit.

Edging Options

The edge of custom coins can be left plain, have a smooth edge, a rope edge, or a decorative edge. Each type will give a different look to the coin edge, and the complexity of the edging design can impact the cost.

For example, a plain edge is the most basic and economical option, while a decorative border with multiple steps and angles will add to the cost of the coin.

It's important to choose an edging that complements the design and enhances the overall look of the coin. Consider the purpose of the challenge coin and the audience it will be presented to when making your choice.

Packaging Options

Finally, consider the packaging for the challenge coins. Options include velvet bags, display cases, and custom coin packaging. These options can add elegance to the coin's presentation and impact the final cost.

What if I Need Help With the Size or Design?

Our design team is more than happy to work with you on the challenge coin design process. We offer design services free of charge to ensure you get the custom coin design perfect. Request a quote with your specification and upload your design; we will begin to create custom challenge coins based on your needs.

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