The Average Size Of A Challenge Coin

October 16, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Challenge coins are normally around 2 inches in diameter.
  • Challenge coins can be anywhere between 1.25 and 3 inches in diameter.
  • Most challenge coins are round, but other custom shapes can be used too.
  • The shape and size of your custom coin have a big effect on every other design element.

‍If you plan to design and create your own challenge coin, you may be surprised by how many options you have when it comes to the shape and size of your coin.

So how big is the average challenge coin? Challenge coins come in a variety of shapes and sizes however, the vast majority of challenge coins are round and can measure anywhere between 1.5 and 2.0 inches in diameter. However, there are plenty of irregular shapes and sizes to choose from as well.

Designing a custom challenge coin can be a lot of fun, but with so many design options to choose from, the design process can be overwhelming if you haven’t done it before. You can customize everything from the main elements like the artwork on the coin down to the finest detail like coin plating and edging, and choosing the right size is just as important as any of the other decisions you’ll make. So what shapes and sizes do challenge coins come in and how will your decision affect your custom coin?

Table of Contents

‍An Overview Of Custom Challenge Coins

Challenge coins have a long history steeped in tradition and knowing more about what challenge coins are and what they’re used for is a great first step toward coming up with the perfect design for your next custom challenge coin.

What Are Challenge Coins And What Are They Used For?

Challenge coins are special coins that feature unique designs, often including the insignia, emblem, or logo of some organization or other group. They are most often associated with the members of the military and first responders like law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and EMS workers.

Traditionally, challenge coins have been used as a source of morale and to prove membership in a group, and members of the military and first responders often collect every challenge coin that is given to them.

These special coins are also often given out as rewards in recognition of someone’s great achievement or sacrifice as well as to commemorate special events like anniversaries and other special occasions.

However, though these coins are mostly associated with the military and first responder organizations, now that anyone can make their own custom challenge coin, they have become more and more popular outside of these settings.

In addition to the military, police, firefighters, and EMS workers, other civilian organizations like clubs, sports teams, universities, and businesses all use challenge coins to commemorate events, recognize special achievements, and even increase brand recognition or raise money.

No matter what organization you’re a part of or what reason you have for celebration, creating a challenge coin with a custom design is a great way to make your next special occasion even more special and give something physical to represent the unity within your group.

Challenge Coin Traditions

It's no secret that most of the challenge coin history and tradition are tied to the military. Ever since, a young American pilot in World War I used a special coin given to him by his squadron leader to prove his identity to French soldiers after escaping from his German captors, it has been a tradition that every unit member in the military should carry their unit coin with them at all times.

This is an incredibly important tradition in the military and it's the basis for the most important challenge coin tradition, the act of challenging. This challenge or coin check is essentially a way to make sure that someone is actually carrying their coin with them.

This tradition may have started during the Vietnam War at an army infantry-run bar. In an attempt to keep outsiders out anyone who entered the bar was made to show proof that they had seen combat. If they couldn’t prove it, they were forced to buy drinks for everyone in the bar.

While enemy bullets and unexploded grenades were often presented as proof, the challenge coin quickly became the easiest and most accepted form of proof.

Today, to challenge someone, the challenger will take out their challenge coin and place, or slam, it on the table in front of them. The challenger can also drop his coin on the ground to challenge everyone in the room.

Once initiated everyone who has been challenged needs to show that they have their challenge coin with them. If someone doesn’t have their coin, they will be forced to buy a round of drinks for the challenger and everyone else who was able to show their coin.

On the other hand, if everyone who has been challenged is able to present their coin, the challenger will have to buy drinks for everyone who was challenged.

Though these traditions are most common in the military, getting your club, organization, or other groups to participate in these traditions can be a really fun way for the members of a group to bond.

The Average Size Of A Challenge Coin

Challenge coins come in all different sizes, but though there are plenty of options when it comes to the size of your coin, most custom coins have a diameter of around 2 inches. However, challenge coin size can vary anywhere between 1.25 and 3 inches in diameter.

Still, finding the right size for your challenge coin is a big decision so learning more about how the size of your coin will affect the final product is necessary if you want to design the perfect coin for you.

Big Coins vs. Small Coins

There are a variety of different things that you’ll need to consider when thinking about what the best size for your coin will be. The coin you challenge coin will affect lots of different aspects of the coin including the surface area and weight of your coin, both of which can have a large effect on your coin’s visual impact, along with how it is perceived and interacted with by those who own it.

Finding the right balance between coin size and all of the other design elements is the key to creating the perfect coin for your needs.

The first thing you should consider when designing your custom coin is how you want people to interact with it. Do you want the coin to be something that is prominently displayed in the owner’s home, or do you want the people you are giving it to carry it with them as much as possible?

If you want the owner to display it in their home, designing a coin with a larger size might be ideal as you want it to appear prominently wherever it is displayed. However, if you want people to carry their coins with them, making a smaller coin that they can that can easily fit in their pocket is a much better idea.

Weight is another thing that you’ll need to think about as well. While other design decisions like the type of metal, coin plating, and some other design decisions might also affect the weight of your coin, smaller coins, of course, tend to weigh less than larger ones.

This issue of weight is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, people tend to view things that feel heavier as being more valuable, which is obviously a good trait for your challenge coin to have. However, make it too heavy and most people will decide against carrying it around at all.

Coin size will also affect your bottom line as larger coins require more materials to make than smaller ones. The coin size, while not being the biggest indicator of cost, will still affect the money that you need to budget for your coin.

Especially when it comes to coins made from or plated with more expensive precious metals like gold and silver, the size you choose can really drastically alter the price of your coins.

While the difference between the cost of a smaller brass coin versus a large one might not be too different, gold and silver are much more valuable, and therefore, small changes in the amount needed to make each coin could make or break your budget.

The last big thing that the coin size will affect is the surface area of your coin, which has a huge impact on how your final design will look. If you choose a small size, your coin will have less surface area, meaning that it will be harder to see small text and fine details. If you want a small coin, it's definitely best to keep your design simple.

With coins of a larger size, the opposite is true. More surface area means that text will be easier to read and fine details will stick out and look much better than they would if they were smashed together onto a smaller coin.

Still, with so many standard challenge coin sizes to choose from, there’s no doubt that with a bit of research and trial and error, you’ll be able to come up with the best size for your custom coin in no time.

What Shape Is A Challenge Coin?

Even though the round coin is by far the most popular, there are also plenty of options when it comes to the shape of your challenge coin. From designing a custom shape, to including cut-outs or even including a built-in bottle opener, there’s no shortage of options to choose from.

Round Challenge Coins

Round coins are by far the most popular being the most traditional coin shape, however, there is still plenty to customize if you go down this path. For instance, there are a variety of different coin-edging options that slightly change the shape of your coin.

Cutouts are also a great way to spice up a custom coin. After all, who said that a coin has to be solid all the way through? Adding cut outs to your design can really add to the visual impact of your custom coin.

In some cases, you can even add extra functionality to your coin by including a bottle opener on your coin. There’s no better way to add extra incentive for people to carry around your coin than by letting them be the hero with a bottle opener when someone needs it.

Custom Challenge Coin Shapes

If you’re looking for something more traditional, making a coin with a custom shape could be the right choice for you. There’s no limit to the number of custom shapes that you can think up, and though they aren’t quite as traditional as a normal circular coin, designing a coin with a custom shape has a variety of benefits.

First, having complete control over the shape of the coin can allow you to create a coin that more accurately fits with the group or event you want your coin to represent. Why make your coin round when you could make it the exact shape of your company’s logo, or in the case of firefighters, why not design it to look like the fire department building?

There’s no limit to the custom shapes you could use. You could design a sailboat coin for a sailing club or a gun-shaped coin for a local shooting club. By making the coin a less traditional shape, it can help the coin feel more personal and more special for the people that it was designed for.

The good thing is that there is such a wide range of options to choose from, so you can guarantee that after a bit of design tinkering, you’ll easily be able to find the perfect shape for your coin

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