Tactical configuration is much better for LRH where shooting range is extreme and shooting position is usually prone. These are usually not carry or point and shoot guns unless you are 6'6" and 295" and in great shape. Weights run from around 12# to really heavy. Idaho has a 15# limit.
When configured properly with a great muzzle brake spotting the shot at any distance is standard.
Hunting rifles, on the other hand, bring to mind the rifle carried for flush and shoot or extreme hunting situations as are found hunting big horns, goats and such animals. This is not to say that 'hunting' rifles are not great rifles and are perfect for most hunting situations and most hunters.
I pretty much agree with what's been said already....but I carry my tactical rifle all over the hills of eastern MT each season. It's a heavy rifle, right at 15 lbs. But this is the same rifle that I use for competitions, varmints, and big game. I know this rifle very well and can pretty much put the bullet where I want to. I also have a couple light weight "hunting rifles" which rarely get used. As far as accuracy goes, both can be made to be accurate. But a tactical rifle with a heavier barrel, can generally shoot more rounds before barrel heat starts to affect things. For hunting, this doesn't really come into consideration as you probably wont be taking that many shots. Additionally, at least to me, a tactical rifle will have more robust components meant to take being knocked around a little bit and not affecting anything. Components like composite stock of some sort (McMillan, Manners, HS Precision), picatinney scope rails and rings, upgraded bottom metal, etc. Not to say a hunting rifle can't or don't have those, but the tactical ones generally do.
my "Tactical" rifle is used to save lives and my hunting rifles are used to take lives.
"Tactical" rifles are generaly highly accurate , rugged built guns so that thay can maintain their accuracy with some abuse in the field yet put a bullet exactly where it needs to go EVERY time its needed. The long range hunting community has adopted this style rifle for both reasons as a highly accurate rugged rifle is very nice to have while packing through the hills looking to make a long shot on a critter.
I personaly don't mind a gun in the 12-14lb range but I'm still considered youg to alot of guys and I am in very good shape so its not a problem , that said a gun doesn't have to weigh alot to bet very accurate , I have an old Weatherby MK-V in 300 Wby that hase a skinny little barrel and a pretty light stock , scoped it weighs right at 8lbs , it will shoot consistant 1/2 moa 3 shot groups to 400yds. A heavier gun is generaly a little easier to hold steady , they kick less making it easier to spot your hits.
I do hunt with my "Tactical" rifle but would never use a "Hunting" rifle in a life saving role
Thanks all for the advice. I ask this question cause my impression is that a well set up tactical rifle is something that can be used for everything, range to mountains to tin cans. I am from South Africa and here we have very draconian gun laws( not that it helps cause we have the highest murder and rape rate in a peace time country). As I am moving to the US next year I can finally get to own a rifle and have the facilities to use it. BUT, being budget restricted I am going to have to get a do -it-all-last-forever rifle.
Hunting rifles, even the heavy barrel varmint variety, were around before the word "tactical" became vogue. Snipers during the Vietnam War were using rifles made with the "varmint profile" barrel. Before that, varmint hunters weren't using the "tactical" rifle to kill squirrels.
The Sendero came out before Remington, or any other mfg., made allowances for the Law Enforcement community. The 700 VS (short action Varmint Synthetic) came out before the Sendero (long action). Hunters, and other folks, were buying this rifle (VS) because it came in .308Win. and of the chamberings first offered in this rifle, it was the best for LR big game hunting. Remington put the pieces together and came up with the Sendero. First described as: a long action rifle, capable of handling the .25-06/.270/7mmRM and .300WM, with a heavy varmint profile barrel for LR accuracy. The LE community and military saw the benefits (stability, accuracy, consistency) of the heavy barrel rifle and gravitated toward them. Rifle mfg.'s saw, heard and felt the needs of these communities, and produced the "tactical" rifle and cashed in on it.
Now, everything with "tactical" stamped on or added to it is a few hundred to thousands of dollars more than it's "civilian" counter-part. JohnnyK.