Challenge Coin Rules and Etiquette: A Basic Guide

Do you know what challenge coins are?

If you’re not in the military or law enforcement, you might not be familiar with them. However, you might have seen these curious coins in TV shows such as NCIS or Jag.

For example, in one episode of NCIS, Tony Dinozzo pulls out a challenge coin and mentioned that “the upside is, we’ll never have to pay for a drink again.”

Now, what did he mean by that?

As per the challenge coin rules for a “coin check,” this is entirely possible. You can get free drinks if you possess a challenge coin and if you’re lucky.

How does this work? Keep on reading to learn more about the rules and etiquette of a coin challenge.

First, What’s a Challenge Coin?

Challenge coins have roots in the military and are also known as military coins. Challenge coins are special tokens that serve as both proofs of membership and a sign of respect and camaraderie.

Sharing a challenge coin is a time-honored tradition that other organizations have also embraced.

How to Receive a Challenge Coin

It’s a great honor to receive a challenge coin from someone. It’s not a membership, it’s more than that; it’s a fellowship. It represents loyalty and sharing the same team spirit.

The playful side of the challenge coin is the “coin check.” If you accept a challenge coin, it means that you also agree to follow the rules.

Challenge Coin Rules and Etiquette: A Basic Guide

Challenge Coin Rules of Engagement

A coin check consists of a challenge and a response. Anyone can issue a challenge but all the members present, including the challenger, are obligated to respond.

Issuing the Challenge

You can initiate a coin check in three ways: verbally, through actions, or accidentally.

You must say, scream, or yell that you’re starting a coin check and holding up your coin for everyone to see. The non-verbal way is to slam the coin into any surface in a way that it produces an audible sound.

When you drop your coin and someone notices it, you’ve “accidentally” issued a challenge; it’s the price to pay for your carelessness.

Responding to the Challenge

Everyone in the vicinity has to show their coins as soon as they can.

You can’t leave your spot to retrieve your coin. However, you’re allowed to take four steps to try to get hold of your coin. This is called the “four steps and arm’s reach” rule.

If you fail to produce a coin, the penalty is a drink or a round of drinks, depending on the whims of the challenger.

Now you might be thinking that the challenger has all the cards in their favor. Challenging for a coin check is actually quite risky. If everyone manages to show their coins, it’s the challenger who’s on the hook to buy drinks.

Challenge Coin Etiquette

Always respect the coin. Don’t ever lose it, you can’t use that as an excuse to renege on your responsibilities if you get challenged. Don’t hand it to other people as doing so is the same as giving them the coin.

There are no exceptions to the challenge coin rules. No sour-grapes even if you think the situation is unfair. You can be challenged at any time or any place, dressed or not, so always be prepared.

Did you like this article? For more interesting stories and topics, feel free to check out the rest of our site.


Hello friends, I am Mohit, the author of tinycomb. I have a passion for writing, and I put in all my efforts to provide my readers with what they are looking for, through my articles.

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