Concrete-filled stainless steel tubes can be considered as a new type of composite construction technique. The characteristics of stainless steel are quite different from those of mild steel in terms of strength, ductility, corrosion resistance and maintenance costs. This paper presents the behaviour of hollow and concrete-filled stainless steel tubular columns under static and impact loading. An experimental test series has been carried out at the University of Wollongong and the University of Western Sydney to investigate the performance of stainless steel hollow and concrete-filled steel tubular (CFST) columns under static and impact loads. This paper presents the results of the first test series, where stainless steel was used and no axial load was applied. The effects of a combined axial and transverse impact loads as well as the location of the impact loading have been considered in a subsequent series. Finite element modelling was carried out to predict the behaviour of composite columns under a lateral static or impact load using ABAQUS to simulate the static and impact experiments. The comparison of the experimental results with numerical results is the main objective of this paper. Moreover, the behaviour of hollow tubes under impact loading is compared with that of the in-filled sections. This paper also compared results of hollow and CFST stainless steel columns with those of mild steel columns under both static and impact loading. Generally, the stainless steel specimens showed improved energy-dissipating characteristics compared with their mild steel counterparts, especially when concrete was used to fill the hollow tubes. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.