> After reading some publications
Danger Will Robinson! Danger!
> I like the looks and seemingly good quality of the SEAL 2000 and
> the Buck Nighthawk
I'll give you a big "it depends" here.
You'll find among the more hardcore testers and users here that neither of these knives will win any popularity contest here, though each has small pockets of support. Each knife has its problems: SOG's mediocre steel, square handle, insufficient guard, etc.; and Buck's mediocre steel, uncomfortable-to-some handle, so-so edge geometry, etc..
So will you be happy with either knife? Maybe, it depends on your expectations. If you mostly just carry it around, and every now and then slice some food or cut a rope, you'll certainly be happy with either knife. The harder you use the knife, the greater the possibility you'll want something better (but nothing is guaranteed -- some people love their Bucks; go figure!)
The SOG is just too expensive for me to recommend. The Buck is a reasonable starter's knife. If it works for you, great. If you notice problems with ergonomics, edge geometry, edge holding, chopping or slicing ability, etc., then perhaps it will serve as a cheap lesson for you, and your next purchase will be better.
Other knives I'd consider first in this price range and in this class of military-style knives: your standard 1095 Kabar (*not* the expensive Next Generation Kabar) at around $30. A Cold Steel SRK at around $50(?) A Cold Steel Bush Ranger at slightly more than that (this is my top recommendation for all-around use unless you really need some serious tip strength). The Fallkniven A-1 (give that one some serious consideration also -- it's much more expensive though, at $110).
PS A quick note about "looks". When I bought my first pistol, I came very close to passing over my ugly Sig P226 in favor of another pistol that I thought looked better. Having shot that P226 for years, I pat myself on the back every day for choosing that ugly P226 over the prettier pistol. If you're mostly buying this knife to hang on your belt and play SEAL while watching Rambo on TV, by all means consider the looks of the knife (note this isn't a put-down -- I myself openly admit to playing SEAL occasionally). But if you're looking to use it, there's nothing better you can do for yourself than to forget about aesthetics. A knife that works well for you is a thing of beauty in itself -- you will quickly come to appreciate it and forget about any erstwhile aesthetic flaws it has, I guarantee it.
[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 29 May 1999).]