The theoretical research on hysteretic characteristic and nonlinear stiffness and damping characteristics of metal rubber was performed. Wire helix was considered as the micro-element structure of metal rubber by analyzing the characteristics of processing components of metal rubber. A mechanical model of wire helix was established based on the material mechanics and the coulomb friction model. The contact states of wire helix were also considered in this model which combined with the impact of friction to cylindrical compression coil spring theory. It was easy to explain the mechanism of hysteresis loop and the nonlinear stiffness and damping characteristic of metal rubber by analyzed contact states and contact numbers of micro-element wire helix. This model was valuable for the analysis of the material mechanics and the design of metal rubber. It provides theoretical support for the further engineering application of metal rubber in the field of vibration reduction.