Abstract The purpose of this paper is to report on the selection of a statistical distribution chosen to represent the experimental material strength of NBG-18 nuclear graphite. Three large sets of samples were tested during the material characterisation of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor and Core Structure Ceramics materials. These sets of samples are tensile strength, flexural strength and compressive strength (CS) measurements. A relevant statistical fit is determined and the goodness of fit is also evaluated for each data set. The data sets are also normalised for ease of comparison, and combined into one representative data set. The validity of this approach is demonstrated. A second failure mode distribution is found on the CS test data. Identifying this failure mode supports the similar observations made in the past. The success of fitting the Weibull distribution through the normalised data sets allows us to improve the basis for the estimates of the variability. This could also imply that the variability on the graphite strength for the different strength measures is based on the same flaw distribution and thus a property of the material.