SEAL Trident Pin: recognizing a fake

The Special Warfare insignia, also known as the “SEAL Trident” or its more popular nickname, “The Budweiser” recognizes those members of the United States Navy who have completed the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, completed SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) and have been designated as U.S. Navy SEALs. It is one of the most recognizable military badges of the U.S. Navy.
You may have, at one point or another, come across a SEAL Trident pin at a local pawnshop or surplus store, but have you ever wondered if the pin is a real pin?

Here are some pictures that might help you understand about the Trident badges.
This is the front and back of my original ENLISTED-SILVER Trident

This is the front and back of a fake Gold Trident

As for differences between the “real” badges and the “knockoff” copy badges… look closely at the ends of the tail feathers… where they are visible between the tines of the actual trident spear. You will see that the ends of the feathers are clean, clear, defined, and “crisp” on the Silver Trident… but they are far less defined, not so clear, and they have extra metal at the ends of the feathers closest to the spot on the trident spear where the upper tine separates from the middle tine. That extra metal isn’t present on the “real” insignia.

What the copy cats did was to press a “real” trident into soft wax to get an impression, and then cut away all the stuff that wasn’t part of the Trident image. They didn’t realize that the tail feathers did not need any sort of “support”… so they left a bit of wax which joined the feathers closest to the spot where the tines branch from each other.
You can also see by comparing the two FRONT images that the details and definition in the silver one are much cleaner and more raised/defined/executed in comparison to the “sloppier” version made in gold metal.

I cleaned up my Silver Trident before taking the picture because it is “silver filled” and was tarnished like a sumbitch. The real Gold Tridents are “gold filled” and actually have a very thin layer of real gold so that they never need cleaning (since gold never tarnishes)… but the knockoffs are made using pot metal and brass flakes and/or gold tints, and they will eventually show wear and age as the metal changes over time and exposure to the elements.
My first GOLD Trident cost me $14 in 1972. I can’t tell you what they cost now… but it’s certainly not the $9-$12 cost of phony/copycat Trident.
It’s still good to be able to buy them. An ancient UDT Frogman friend of mine died at the age of 96 last year on 10 Nov. I gave his widow a small memorial box containing a gold trident pin from the surplus store. I even sent photos of the package to THE BLAST (the quarterly publication of the UDT-SEAL Association) and they published the article I wrote about the man’s WWII heroics and the box I gave his widow. I couldn’t hammer the Trident into his casket (which is the most recent burial tradition which has developed in the Teams) because he was cremated.

   (above are two photos from Petty Officer Michael A. Monsoor’s funeral showing a trident being ‘pounded’ into the coffin. Michael was killed in battle in Iraq in September 2006, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor)

This last picture is the presentation box I made to memorialize my Teammate. It was a ‘knockoff’ Trident from the surplus store… but that doesn’t matter. The image, the emblem, the meaning that it carries… THAT is what’s important.

Steve “Moose” Robinson

RM2(SEAL) BUD/S Class 59 (Feb 1971)SEAL Team ONE USN


One thought on “SEAL Trident Pin: recognizing a fake

  1. Randall Beckman says:

    I would recommend you update your article to show current issue US Made SEAL badges.
    They do not make them now like they did in the 1970’s. They are not silver or gold filled anymore either and they have not been for a long time.
    People are being confused that genuine current issue US Made SEAL badges are fake since they are not made like the ones from the 1970’s.


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