In order to understand the crush behavior of complex structural system such as a vehicle, one must first acquire the knowledge of crush characteristics of structural components that constitute the system and control its crush performance. In this paper, the crush strength characteristics and modes of collapse of thin walled circular columns are mathematically formulated. The formulation is based on the stability of shell structure subjected to axial crush, where various stages of collapse are identified and crush characteristics pertinent to column design are quantified. The effect of column size and the material properties on the collapse stability and crush strength characteristics of thin walled shell components are discussed. The size and number of folds for the axisymmetric “ring” mode and the nonsymmetric “diamond” mode are determined. Design equations and charts for sizing thin walled shell components for crush energy management and support structures are presented and compare well with experimental data. Also, the mean crush strength of the component in this method is discussed and compared with other experimental and energy approach methods for various materials.