The image presented to the public is one of nice, rubber balls banging into protesters, creating stinging pain for use in crowd control. This is not at all the case, though they are generally categorized as "less lethal", if used correctly e.g. no head shots. For a good perspective, see here . At minimum, these should be called rubber-coated bullets. But even the use of "rubber" causes distortion. Better might be "hard-coated steel bullets".