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How to make custom challenge coins

I. Concept of challenge coins

The challenge coin represents a membership from a specific occasion or organization. Receiving a challenge coin means acknowledging someone’s devotion and bravery. Earlier, the military awarded challenge coins for two reasons. To boost motivation and morale.

Different customization options make a custom challenge coin unique for a specific purpose. Businesses use them as powerful marketing tools. It provides lasting impressions, promotes brand loyalty, and revives the importance of tradition.

II. Excellent custom coin design

personal challenge coins
presidential commemorative coins
custom silver coins

With an approved challenge coins custom design, it then undergoes the manufacturing process. Here a 10 step-by-step guidelines to make a challenge coin.

  1.  Concept and purpose: Making a challenge coin is useless unless you define the purpose. It is time to decide which organization your challenge coin represents.
  2. Inspiration and information: What symbols, text, and designs represent your concept? Also, look for challenge coins that represent companies of similar nature. For the military, challenge coins may include eagles, tanks, or naval ships. But, for corporate organizations, it may have the company’s name or logo.
  3.  Decide coin specification: Here, you need to decide the size and metal type. The standard diameter is 1.5 to 2 inches. The content selection impacts what you want to include in the coin.
  4. Draft initial ideas: Now you bring the concept into written form. Draw sketches of the front and back sides, and observe if your idea fits in your design.
  5.  Design coin observe (front): Put much effort into challenge coins custom design front. It must feature your logo, emblem, or main text. The elements should be appealing, balanced, and in perfect symmetry.
  6.  Design coin reverse (back): Here you can add event dates, dedications, or special texts.
  7. Color and finishes: Decide color and special finishes (like matte or antique etc.). Ensure the color and finish should not clutter the design.
  8. Text details: In this phase, you decide whether you include a motto, company name, or slogan. Ensure legibility and size of the text according to the coin’s dimension.
  9.  Review: With your finalized concept, take time to review it and see if any changes required.
  10.  Digital mockup: After review, start developing its digital mockup
    Now the challenge coins custom design is ready for production.
custom coins

You can ask the manufacturer to design for you the best custom challenge coins.

Provide information so that the manufacturer understands your requirements. You need to provide the following information to make a challenge coin:

  • Shape:Handcuff, arrowhead, beer can opener, etc.
  • Thickness:2 mm, 3mm (standard), 8 mm etc.
  • Size:2 – 3 inches diameter etc.
  • Color fill:shiny gold, antique nickel, satin brass, black paint, etc.
  • Plating color:High polished silver, copper, high polished gold, etc.
  • Border:Cross-cut, spur, bezel, etc.
  • Text:Single word or phrase etc.
  • Logo:Letterforms, mascots, emblems, etc.
  • Pattern:Brickwork, dragon scale, stippling, etc.

III. Choose the right material to make challenge coin



  • Develop heavier coins
  • It has an electroplated finish that does not wear so coins will be wear-resistant
  • Delivers well-defined minute details due to the die-striking process.


  • Coins are cheap compared to brass
  • Not recommended for coin production since minute details get buffed away during polishing.
  • Iron-made coins need an epoxy coating to protect them from wear in heavy use.


  • Easy to melt due to low melting point
  • Zinc alloys coins have sharp angles, holes and special shapes, etc.
  • Zinc itself is cheaper but requires high cost due to die casting process


  • Coins made with gold look luxuriouscompared to any other metal
  • Gold metal is very expensive
  • Coins made with gold are heavy and also do not offer great detailing options


  • Challenge coins made with silver have an attractive look
  • It is a mid-budget investment.
  • Coins need epoxy coating to protect from tarnishing as silver loses its luster over time


  • Due to its warm and classic appearance, it looks attractive
  • Being malleable, engraving details is possible
  • Over time, bronze acquires a patina, a thin layer of discoloration


  • Copper challenge coins are also heavy
  • Copper-made coins do not need epoxy coating since it is anti-corrosive
  • Copper challenge coins may also tarnish and develop a patina over time.


  • Nickel challenge coins have attractive appeal after reflective and shiny finish.
  • Very effective for mass production due to cost-effectiveness
  • While nickel coins are durable, they lack a high level of prestige.

IV. Custom challenge coin manufacturing process

The custom challenge coins production process consists of 9 steps. Follow these steps to make your challenge coin.

1. Production of Mold

Manufacturing of custom challenge coins mold starts the image placement in the software

Next, the CNC machine reads the blueprint to mill the inverse coin’s design image into a steel die on both sides.

Manufacturers ensure the challenge coin design accuracy. Then they temper it to verify the mold’s strength.

Molds stamp the coin. The proper placement of the coin in the mold prints the image without any discrepancy.


2. Die striking

Now it undergoes a stamping process by printing dies on a blank coin. Not only image printing, it also adds raised elements detailing for more depth and feel.

The blank coin lies between the dies and pressed with high pressure to print the image. The process repeats to achieve the desired design and detailing.

This process presses the blank coin into the mold to develop the impression. The improper placement of the blank coin results in the incorrect image of the coin.


3. Edging option

This is not part of the standard challenge coin-making process but a custom feature. Edging in custom challenge coins provides more uniqueness. You can customize edge options like diamond cut, oblique line, spur cut, etc.

With edging, you can create great custom challenge coins. Choosing the right edging option will improve the coin’s design appearance. A larger edging design on a thinner coin will ruin the coin’s beauty.

personalized gold coin

4. Deburring and polishing

The custom challenge coins edge remains sharp after the die-striking process. Deburring takes place to remove the sharp edges,

Next is the polishing process. A polished challenge coin will be anti-corrosive and prevent tarnishing. Buffing wheels and a compound polishes the coin. But, the type of compound used varies between different metals.

A diamond compound polishes white metal and stainless steel. While a rouge compound polishes brass and yellow metals.

This step removes the unnecessary sharp edges and spurs on a coin’s edge. With improper deburring, the coin’s sharp edges will hurt the coin bearer.

make challenge coins

5. Coin plating

Coin plating is the most integral part of the coin manufacturing process. It delivers the coins with cheap material and the same feel and appearance.

This process uses iron and zinc as the coin’s base material. Later, a thin layer of gold, silver copper, etc. applied to give the desired appearance.

If the coin is not plated, the coin will have no contrasting features and the wording will be difficult to read.

presidential commemorative coins

6. Metal texturing

It is an extra feature providing texture beneath the challenge coins custom design. Coins are commonly textured or rough surface and it purely depends on the choice.

Texturing decides the coin’s feel. For rough texturing, use sandblasting. For a vintage look use antique plating, or have a matte appearance with a satin texture.

create a challenge coin

7. Coin coloring

Adding color to the custom challenge coins adds a cool and dashy look to them. Rather than a coin with natural color, a colored coin looks more stylish and personalized. Here are three steps for coin coloring:

Hard enamel: Used to apply paint on the coin’s surface

Soft enamel: Applies color to the coin’s recessed areas

Pad printing: Applies ink to the coin to make a permanent color finish.

It adds life to the coin texture and design. The wrong color choice will make the coin less attractive and ugly in design too.

engraved coins

8. Laser engraving

Laser engraving incorporates a minute design over the coin’s base and edges. With laser engraving, text on the surface or the edges enhances the coin’s look. Laser engraving on the sides makes custom challenge coins more appealing.

This process helps write text and fine details on the coin’s surface and the details do not wear.

custom commemorative coins

9. Finishing process

Checks made on design, look, feel and durability finalizes the custom challenge.

With improper finishing, the client may ask for revision. This will force to restart of the production phase thereby cutting profits.

personal challenge coins

V. Custom challenge coins: creativity options

Here are the 4 customization options available to develop unique custom challenge coins.

1. Edge engraving

  • Standard flat edge
  • Rope edge
  • Spur ledge
  • Chain edge

1. Surface texture

  • Smooth: provides smooth coin surface and polished to a high shine
  • Sandblasted: provides a textured or matte finish with a frosty or grainy appearance.
  • Antique: Provides aged or weathered look.
  • Diamond Cut Edge: provides grooves to the customs challenge coins perimeter.
  • Soft Enamel: Provides a raised texture
  • Epoxy Coating: Provides smooth glossy coating to protect the design elements underneath.
  • 3D Sculpted Texture: Provides raised portions to the coin creating depth in design.

2. Pattern colors

  • Antique plating:Challenge coins have less reflection. It also provides natural shadows and hues in the raised and recessed areas.
  • High polish plating:High polish plating provides legible elements and maintains the feel.
  • Dual plating:Provides a combination option of two or more plating. This mix-and-match balance results in striking color that does not rely on only color fill.

3. 3D Sculpted Detail

This includes 3-dimensional details such as Vehicles, People, Mountains, etc.

4. Value and appeal for personalized customization

Custom challenge coins designed for an organization consists of certain motives and purpose. Custom challenge coins may depict an event, or story tell about the bearer’s untiring efforts.

VI. Quality checks on custom challenge coins

After custom challenge coins production, several quality checks apply to ensure the standards. Once you create a challenge coin, here are steps to check its quality control:


After custom challenge coins production, several quality checks apply to ensure the standards. Once you create a challenge coin, here are steps to check its quality control:

1. Design inspection

  • Look at the design and details of the custom challenge coins. A high-quality challenge coin should have a clear and well-executed design.
  • Check for any misspellings, inaccuracies, or design flaws. A reputable coin should be error-free.

2. Material and weight

Ensure that the material matches the specifications provided. Assess the weight of the custom challenge coins. High-quality coins are usually heavier due to their metal content.

3. Craftsmanship

Examine the engraving and finish. The details should be sharp and precise, and there should be no rough edges. Look for signs of wear or damage. A well-maintained coin should not have scratches, dents, tarnishing, etc.

4. Color and Enamel

Check for smooth enamel fill, proper application, without bubbles or irregularities. Ensure that any painted or colored areas are vibrant and consistent.

5. Edge Design

Examine and ensure the edges contain inscriptions, serial numbers, or other features.

6. Authentication and Origin

Ensure custom challenge coins bear the correct logo and emblem of the organization. Check for mint marks or the maker’s hallmark to verify its authenticity.

7. Packaging and Presentation

Ensure the packaging and presentation complies with the specification.

VII. Packaging process for custom challenge coins

Challenge coins presented in different packages add a personal touch and good presentation. Here are 4 common types of packaging.

  1. Velvet Pouches:

    Provides a soft, elegant backdrop. It often comes with drawstrings to keep the coin enclosed.Process:

    • The Challenge coin should be free from fingerprints or smudges.
    • Open the box and check for any dust or debris inside.
    • Optional to add a layer of tissue paper at the bottom of the box to create a soft cushion for the coin.
    • Place the challenge coin inside the velvet box.
    • Close the velvet box, and ensure the coin’s security and alignment.
    • Include a certificate, if required for a personalized note on top of the coin or inside the box, beneath the lid.
    • Close the lid of the velvet box. Depending on the design of the box, it may have a latch or a magnetic closure.
    • Double-check the box for any visible imperfections or dust particles.
  2. Custom coin holders:

    To fit the coin size and the coin holder with printed branding or engravingProcess

    • Choose the right custom challenge coins holder. They come in various materials and styles, such as acrylic, plastic, metal, etc.
    • Clean the challenge coin to remove any fingerprints, smudges, dust, etc.
    • Open the custom coin holder. Depending on the design, it may have a hinged lid, a removable top, or a sliding mechanism.
    • Place the challenge coin inside the custom coin holder. Ensure alignment of the coin within the holder using a coin-specific slot.
    • Close the custom coin holder using features like snapping the lid shut, and sliding the top into place.
    • Ensure the coin’s position and that there are no visible fingerprints or smudges.
    • Include a certificate, if required for a personalized note on top of the coin or inside the box, beneath the lid.
    • Ensure the coin holder’s secured closure. Verify the holder has extra features like a latch or locking mechanism.
    • Double-check the box for any visible imperfections or dust particles.
  3. Presentation box:

    Custom challenge coins containers are sturdy. They have a hinged lid and can hold one or more custom challenge coins.Process

    • Open the presentation box to inspect for any dust or debris
    • Optional to add an extra layer of elegance with tissue paper or a velvet lining.
    • Place the challenge coin inside the presentation box. Ensure alignment and safety of the coin within the holder.
    • Include a certificate, if required for a personalized note on top of the coin or inside the box, beneath the lid.
    • Ensure secured closure with a latch or locking mechanism.
    • Double-check the box for any visible imperfections or dust particles.
  4. Tin or Metal Cases:

    Provides rustic packagingProcess

    • Make sure the challenge coin is clean and free from fingerprints or smudges.
    • Open the metal case and inspect it for any dust or debris.
    • Place the challenge coin inside the metal case, ensure the safety of the coin
    • Include a certificate, if required for a personalized note on top of the coin or inside the box, beneath the lid.
    • Ensure the coin’s proper positioning.
    • Verify the coin does not have visible fingerprints or smudges on the coin or inside the case.
    • Metal cases may have latches or hinges.
    • Double-check the box for any visible imperfections or dust particles.
custom coins
custom military coins

VIII. Custom challenge coins: Delivery method and timeline

Custom challenge coins offered in different ways follow some rules. Types of custom challenge coins and occasions affect the rules. Here are some popular ways to deliver challenge coins:


  • Handshake:The giver shakes hands with the recipient, and passes it from one to another hand
  • Presentation:The giver delivers a speech before handing it over.
  • Coin Check:Custom challenge coins are also “challenged” at any time by any member of the group. To start a coin check, a member slams their coin on a table to declare a challenge. Everyone else present must then produce their coin. If someone fails to produce, they might buy a round of drinks or perform some other agreed-upon task.
  • Mail or Package:Delivered via mail or delivered in a package.
  • Custom challenge coins ceremony:Challenge coin offerings take place in ceremonies.


Various factors like quality, design complexity, etc. affect the delivery timeline. Here is a rough idea of the delivery timeline of challenge coins:

  • Design and Approval:1-2 weeks
  • Production:2-4 weeks
  • Shipping:1-2 week.
  • Total timeline:4-8 weeks

From coin design to final delivery, there are several steps to creating a challenge coin. As a coin goes through all the steps, you get a visually appealing and high-quality challenge coin.

Custom challenge coins hold great importance in recognition and commemoration. They foster a sense of pride, remind shared experiences, and represent motivation. They speak of unbreakable bonds and show appreciation.

What’s next?

Are you ready to own your custom challenge coin today? Get in touch with us and let us help you story-tell your vision via an exclusive and unique custom challenge coin.

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