Joining the military is an incredibly personal choice that requires strength, courage, and dedication above all else. Commemorating that choice with a tattoo is very common and showcases one’s devotion to their country and the people of that country.
What you’ll find on this page are great ways to show your love for the military and why some military tattoos are a bit more popular than others. We’ll also go over some of the meanings that are attached to the top military tattoos.
Images in military tattoos vary depending on the country that is represented, but they often include weaponry, banners, helmets or hats associated with the military, decorations, and coats of arms. Some tattoos actually have all of these images included, but in most cases, people choose to use one or two of them in their designs.
These days many people like to make their military tattoos as unique to them as possible, mixing in different iconic military images that mean the most to them. The reason for this is that they want outsiders to recognize who they are through their military tats since they are usually symbols of great pride. Even designs that are meant to be personal tattoos are made to be unique since owners want to look at them and feel proud of themselves for what they’ve done or for the traditions that they and their military family members share.
In rare cases, people get military tattoos simply to show their love for the military. These designs are not meant to show off what the owner has done, but rather to show that they are very proud of their country’s military. Many of these types of military tattoos will include soldiers or even scenes from a war their country fought in.
The key to choosing a great military tattoo is to use the meanings that are associated with different designs to make the ultimate “you” tattoo. That sometimes isn’t the easiest thing to do, but as long as you know what some of the most popular military tattoos are and the meanings attached to them, your job is made a lot easier. From there all you have to do is narrow does the symbols to the ones that mean the most to you and then find a way to make them work in a single design (or multiple designs if you want to go that route).
Canadian military tattoos commonly feature the Arms of Canada, the coat of arms of Canadian sovereignty. It is a complex image topped with the St. Edward’s Crown, symbolic of Canada. The coat of arms is featured on the majority of decorations awarded to worthy members of the army. The maple leaf is usually included as well, along with dates of service. The Canadian Armed Forces badge is also used and symbolizes the unified force of the Canadian military.
American military tattoos usually include the bald eagle because of its symbolic pride in the nation as well as the American flag. Sometimes simple stars as used, covering a field in the background of a larger tattoo or encircling a smaller one. The stars represent the states of the USA, emphasizing the protection of the entire nation. The U.S. Army logo is another common image as it is both strong and relatively simple; a white star encased in gold on a black square.
Dog tags are another image frequently used to signify military service or serve as a tribute to the memory of a soldier. The beaded chain is also included in most of these designs, making a more realistic image. Some of the dog tags will have names on them, but many officers will leave them blank to honor fallen soldiers. You might think that these dog tag tattoos will only look right as neck tattoos, but the truth is that they can look great if designed the right way.
Military weapons are also very popular military tattoos. You might want to get a tattoo of the rifle you use or used during your service days, or maybe you just want to get a tattoo of an iconic military weapon. Most people go all-out with these tattoos by getting highly detailed weapons designed.
In military tattoos that are meant to memorialize a specific soldier, the name of the soldier and the dates of service, or dates of birth and death, are usually depicted engraved on the tags or atop other military tattoos. In these cases, there is no need to get a unique design since those aspects of the tattoo will make it very obvious that it is in honor of someone close to the person’s heart. Of course, if you do get a memorial tattoo, you can tweak some of the military symbols any way that you want to.
The Fallen Soldier Battle Cross is one of the best ways to honor someone who has died in a modern war. These designs have a rifle sticking out of a boot with a helmet on top of the rifle, making a cross sign. Soldiers get these tattoos to honor their friends who died in the war, and family members will honor their sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters in the same way. These designs can be a bit pricey when in full detail, but you can cut costs significantly by getting an all-black version with less detail.
Military skull tattoos are a more modern symbol of army service or affiliation. The headgear of the particular army branch is often added to the skull, creating a more specific image. These are often as much about flash as they are about meaning, so many servicemen and women will get extremely detailed skulls along with any other symbols they include in the design. The skulls represent the owner’s acceptance of their mortality and are a great way for people to get motivated when times get tough in their lives.
A black beret is representative of the United States Army. This is a simple additional element to add to a tattoo to make it a military design. Most people who see the beret will recognize that the owner is in the military and proud of it. Most people get black berets, though they can be drawn in an assortment of colors without losing any meaning. Depending on the coat of arms included, a green beret is the symbol of the United States Army Special Forces, the British Commandos of the Second World War or Royal Marines.
If you want to take your military tattoo a step further, a combat helmet can be depicted as well and signifies time spent in combat. Some people will show a bullet hole in the helmet while others prefer to have a clean look. As with the beret, skulls are often shown wearing combat helmets to represent the person’s willingness to die in uniform.
Unless you are getting a single image or piece of text as your military tattoo, you should take some time to make sure the entire design will look great wherever you end up placing it. For example, if you know that you are going to include a coat of arms, a skull, and a large helmet, you’ll want to have multiple designs drawn up that you can test out on your skin. Having multiple options will help you to see what you want your military tattoo to look like.
Placement is another important part of getting military tattoos. If you know that you want to get an arm tattoo, for example, you will want to have a design drawn up that looks good when it is a bit curved on the sides. It’s easier to find a good place to put a tattoo when it’s small, though you still want to put it in a place that makes the images pop. Larger military pieces will usually go on the back or the chest, but these days artists have plenty of great tricks to make large designs wrap in different and awesome ways.
Even if your military tattoo isn’t extremely complex, you still will want to have an experienced artist do the work for you. These tattoos are very important to the people who get them and to other military members who see them, so it’s vital that you pick an artist who will be able to get the most out of your design. Even if it’s just a small bit of text and maybe a small image, you’ll still want an experienced artist to do the work for you.
As long as you pick designs that mean a lot to you, there is very little chance of you regretting any of the military tattoos that you get. They hold so much meaning and they pretty much always look great on the skin, so you can expect to feel very proud to have such a tattoo on your body. Just take your time with the design process and hire a tattoo artist who you know can get the job done.