Second Lieutenants are authorized to wear nonsubdued (gold) rank insignia on the shoulder loops of the black all-weather coat and black windbreaker. Nonsubdued Second Lieutenant rank insignia is also worn on the sleeves of the Blue Mess and White Mess jackets; the insignia is worn vertically, centered in the space that’s formed by lower curves of the trefoil and the top edge of the braid (the braid's color composition varies by jacket type and rank). We recommend embroidered bullion 2nd Lieutenant rank insignia for wear on formal garments such as the Mess jackets, and offer both traditional sew-on rank insignia and clutch-back insignia that can be quickly and securely attached without the need for sewing.

Nonsubdued grade insignia is also worn by Officers and Warrant Officers on the beret flash. Guidance for wearing the insignia on the beret is found Section 19-3 of DA 670-1. Visit this page to purchase pin-on metal 2LT rank insignia for the beret.

Just how the insignia for the lowest-ranking commissioned officer in the Army came to be gold-colored can be confusing even for uniform and insignia afficionados. Regardless of the cause, however, the result is that the Army’s most inexperienced officers are also burdened with a nickname that is unfortunately accurate as far as a physical description of an emblem is concerned: “Butter bar.”

Until 1917, 2nd Lieutenants did not have an insignia of rank, but the veritable tsunami of junior officers flooding into the service as the U.S. entered World War I made it essential that these officers had some type of rank identification. One of the first proposals was to expand the system of bars that had been in place since 1936 for First Lieutenants (one silver bar) and Captains (two silver bars), starting 2nd Lieutenants off with one bar and adding a bar to the 1st Lieutenant and Captain insignias.

But this would have involved making changes to two existing insignias to accommodate one new one, and the official policy was to introduce as few changes as possible. Consequently, 2nd Lieutenants were given a single bar but in a gold color to distinguish them from their higher-ranking one-bar counterparts.

It’s easy to see how the gold-colored insignia was quickly compared to a stick of butter. But while it’s little consolation for all the 2nd Lieutenants who’ve had to endure the ignominy of the “butter bar” tag, things could have been worse: They might have been dubbed “Oleo Bars” if some thirty-plus states hadn’t passed laws outlawing production of yellow margarine during the years leading up to World War II.

About us

As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.