The present work investigates the mechanisms that lead to ignition and subsequent self-sustained combustion of bulk metals. To this effect, an experimental study isolating the ignition process was conducted with the novel feature of using a short-arc lamp as a non-coherent, continuous radiation source. A 1000 W xenon arc lamp was used to irradiate the top surface of a cylindrical metal specimen 5 mm in diameter and 5 mm high in a quiescent pure-oxygen (O2) environment at an absolute pressure of 0.1 MPa. Measurement of surface temperature histories and a qualitative visual record of the ignition process and the subsequent self-sustained combustion event were obtained. Iron (Fe), titanium (Ti), zirconium (Zr), magnesium (Mg), zinc (Zn), tin (Sn), copper (Cu) and aluminum (Al) specimens were investigated. All metals exhibited ignition and sustained combustion except with the aluminum sample. Ignition temperatures below, above or in the range of the metal melting point were found. Ignition and combustion of copper rods at 0.1 MPa in normal gravity conditions revealed the dramatic effect of sample geometry, experimental configuration and ignition source on the ignitability and flammability of bulk metals.