In this paper, we investigate both pre- and post-buckling behaviors of multi-walled carbon nanotubes and multi-walled carbon nanopeapods by incorporating into the applied forces of a prescribed beam equation both van der Waals interactions between the adjacent walls of the nanotubes and the interactions between the fullerenes and the inner wall of the nanotube. Two beam theories are employed. First, we utilize Donnell’s equilibrium equation to derive an axial stability condition for the multi-walled carbon nanotubes and multi-walled carbon nanopeapods. We then determine analytically the critical forces for single-walled and double-walled nanotubes and nanopeapods. Given the outer nanotube of a fixed radius, we observe that the critical force and strain derived from the axial buckling stability criterion decrease as a result of the molecular interactions between the adjacent layers of the nanotubes and the molecular interactions between the embedded fullerenes and the inner carbon nanotube, which is in agreement with existing literature. Next, we utilize an Euler–Bernoulli beam equation incorporating the curvature effect to obtain the post-buckled axial bending displacement for the multi-walled nanotubes and nanopeapods. We find that the interactions between molecules generate an inward force, which tends to resist any applied forces. While the inward force induced by the fullerenes to the inner wall of the nanotube vanishes as we increase the applied force, the inward force induced by the layers increases as the applied force increases. The main contribution of this paper is the incorporation of both van der Waals interactions and the curvature effect into prescribed beam theories to accurately measure the critical forces and the buckled displacements of multi-walled nanotubes and nanopeapods subject to a small external force. Our analysis is relevant to future nano devices, such as biological sensors and measuring devices for small forces arising from electrical charges or Casimir forces.