If you’ve ever held a nickel in your hand and wondered just how heavy it is, you’re not alone. As one of the most frequently used coins, many people are curious about the exact nickel weight in grams.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: a nickel weighs 5 grams.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the specifications behind the nickel, its history, how it compares to other coins in terms of size and weight, and a few other interesting facts about this ubiquitous little coin.

The Specifications of a Nickel

Diameter and Thickness

A nickel is a coin that is commonly used in the United States. It is made of a combination of metals, primarily copper and nickel. The diameter of a nickel is approximately 0.835 inches (21.21 mm), making it larger than a penny or a dime.

It has a thickness of approximately 0.077 inches (1.95 mm), which gives it a substantial weight compared to other coins.

Weight and Composition

A nickel coin weighs 5 grams, hence the name “nickel”. However, the actual composition of the coin is not purely nickel. It is made up of 75% copper and 25% nickel. The outer layer of the coin is composed of 25% nickel, which gives it a silver appearance.

The inner core is made up of 75% copper, giving it a reddish-brown color.

This composition was established in 1866 when the nickel was first introduced into circulation. Prior to that, the nickel coins were made of a silver alloy. The change in composition was made to reduce the cost of production and make the coins more durable.

Edge Style

The edge of a nickel coin has a smooth, plain edge. Unlike some other coins, such as quarters or dimes, it does not have any ridges or reeded edges. This plain edge makes it easier to stack and handle the coins.

For more information on the specifications of a nickel, you can visit the official website of the United States Mint: www.usmint.gov. They provide detailed information about the coins that are in circulation, including the nickel.

A Brief History of the Nickel

The nickel is a widely used coin in many countries, valued for its small size and relatively low cost. Let’s take a closer look at the history of the nickel and how it has evolved over the years.

Early Nickels (1866-1922)

The first nickel coins were introduced in the United States in 1866. These coins were made of a combination of copper and nickel, giving them their distinctive silver color. They were larger and thicker than the nickels we are familiar with today.

During this period, the design of the nickel went through several changes. The most famous of these early nickels is the “Shield Nickel,” which featured a shield on the obverse side and a wreath on the reverse side.

Other designs included the “Liberty Head Nickel” and the “Buffalo Nickel,” which depicted a Native American on the obverse side and a buffalo on the reverse side.

Interestingly, the composition of the nickel changed during World War II due to a shortage of nickel. From 1942 to 1945, nickels were made of a silver-colored alloy composed of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese.

These coins are often referred to as “wartime nickels” and are highly sought after by collectors.

Jefferson Nickels (1938-Present)

In 1938, the design of the nickel changed once again with the introduction of the “Jefferson Nickel.” This design, featuring a portrait of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse side and Monticello, Jefferson’s home, on the reverse side, is still in use today.

Since its introduction, the Jefferson Nickel has remained relatively unchanged. However, there have been a few notable exceptions. In 2004 and 2005, the United States Mint released a series of nickels as part of the “Westward Journey Nickel Series.”

These coins featured new designs on the reverse side, commemorating the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Louisiana Purchase.

It is worth noting that the weight of the nickel has remained consistent throughout its history. A nickel weighs approximately 5 grams. This weight has remained unchanged since the introduction of the nickel coin in 1866.

For more information on the history of the nickel, you can visit the United States Mint website.

How a Nickel’s Weight Compares to Other Coins

Nickel vs. Penny

When comparing the weight of a nickel to a penny, it is important to note that a nickel is much heavier. A nickel weighs approximately 5 grams, while a penny weighs about 2.5 grams. This means that a nickel is twice as heavy as a penny.

The difference in weight can be attributed to the materials used to make each coin. A nickel is made primarily of a combination of copper and nickel, while a penny is made primarily of zinc with a thin copper coating.

Nickel vs. Dime

Compared to a dime, a nickel is also heavier. A dime weighs approximately 2.27 grams, which is less than half the weight of a nickel. This difference in weight can be attributed to the difference in size and thickness of the two coins.

A nickel is larger and thicker than a dime, which contributes to its higher weight. It’s interesting to note that despite being heavier, a nickel is worth less than a dime in terms of monetary value.

Nickel vs. Quarter

When comparing a nickel to a quarter, the weight difference becomes even more significant. A quarter weighs approximately 5.67 grams, which is slightly more than a nickel. This means that a quarter is just slightly heavier than a nickel.

However, it’s important to consider that a quarter is larger in size and has a greater value than a nickel. So, while the weight difference may not be substantial, the monetary value difference between the two coins is significant.

Other Interesting Facts About the Nickel

Nicknames for the Nickel

The nickel, a commonly used coin in many countries, has gained various nicknames over the years. In the United States, it is often referred to as the “nickel” due to its composition of 75% copper and 25% nickel. This composition gives the coin its distinctive silver appearance.

However, the term “nickel” is not exclusive to the United States. In Canada, the five-cent coin is also known as the “nickel” due to its similar composition.

Interestingly, the term “nickel” can also be used to describe a person who is stingy or unwilling to spend money. This association likely stems from the coin’s relatively low value compared to other denominations.

Changes in Nickel Production

Over the years, the production and composition of the nickel coin have undergone significant changes. In the past, the nickel was made of 75% copper and 25% nickel. However, due to rising metal prices, the composition was modified to reduce costs.

Since 1982, the nickel has been made of 94.5% steel and 3.5% copper, with a thin layer of nickel plating on the surface.

This change in composition has not only affected the appearance of the coin but also its weight. While the current nickel weighs 5 grams, the older versions, made of copper and nickel, weighed slightly more.

It is interesting to note how the evolution of production techniques and economic factors have influenced the physical characteristics of the nickel coin.


In conclusion, the nickel is much more than just five cents. This ubiquitous coin has an interesting history, unique specifications, and its fair share of fascinating facts behind it. So next time you have a nickel in your hand, take a moment to appreciate that it weighs exactly five grams.

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