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Check out the Spec Plus line from Ontario. They make some pretty good ,sturdy field knives for <$50,at that price he could almost get 2! They`re made of 1095 tool steel and some are available with serrations. Also if he doesn`t mind the wait he can get a custom knife from EDMF for <$80 in that size range although most of his knives run bigger,much bigger.
I really like the Cold Steel Kobun Tanto.
It is in your price range and can be had in either mostly serrateed or plain.
(I prefer the plain. Easier to sharpen then the serrated version.)
Comes with a cool Kydex sheath, too.
Another favorite of mine is the Applegate Fairbairn Fixed Blade.
I haven't priced them lately but I believe they are in your price range as well.
The ones from Blackjack and Gerber are both really nice for the money. I have yet to see a Boker version in person so I'll reserve judgement there.
There you are.
My .05 worth. (Inflation)
I am not sure if he can or will put serrations on the blade, but the best buy in my opinion on the entire knife market is
John Greco's stuff. I would think the FOX FIGHTER would be in the catagory your freind is looking. They are very sturdy knives, will give you a lifetime of service, and you will have a handmade knife for under $60 delivered.
This is a bit of a self-serving suggestion, becaust I sell the things, but Norway, Sweden, and Finland have a long tradition of people walking around with fixed blade hunting and woodcraft knives, and a lot of traditional wood-handled knives in that price range, in patterns that have worked for them for centuries.
I would give my vote to a Cold Steel Master Hunter. The SRK is little too much of a sharpened prybar for my tastes. The Master Hunter carries well, is cheap, and has pretty good performance (better then anything else I have tried in its price class).
If you keep an eye on the ad boards and forums, you can turn up nearly new examples (not factory seconds) ocassionally for a real good price, since I use mine, a scatch or two in the finish is a don't care for me. Factory seconds are always an option to cut the price as well but, I prefer lightly used. Seems like the last Master Hunter I got was a stainless version for about $30 and it looked to be new minus the factory box. Definitely made me happy camper the day it arrived!
That's a great suggestion, CD. Cold Steel really has strong offerings in this class. Here's how I'd divide 'em up.
SRK: strong sharpened prybar. Great for abusing, but it doesn't cut so well. You can see my article "How to make the SRK perform" for tips on how to turn the SRK into a knife that's not only strong, but cuts well too. Hint: it involves the use of a file and some elbow grease 6" long.
Master Hunter: Strong knife, not a sharpened prybar but still very strong. It also has great edge geometry -- it'll cut, and cut well. But it's the shortest of the bunch, at 4.5".
Bush Ranger: Strong but not like the SRK. Even better edge geometry than the Master Hunter (wider blade so higher grind), for absolutely top-notch edge geometry. Very sharp point (but you give up strength on the point versus the SRK). It will easily outcut the SRK, and slightly beat the Master Hunter. It'll easily outchop both of them. 7" long.
So it looks like you have a wide range of choices involving tradeoffs in strength, cutting and chopping performance, and blade length.
None of these knives are partially-serrated. However, there's a better way to get serrated-like performance. When you sharpen the knife, leave part of the edge at a very coarse grit (350 or preferably lower). The lower the grit, the closer the edge will perform to serrations. This is by far my favorite way to achieve good slicing performance. It has the advantage over serrations that it doesn't bring the edge out-of-line, doesn't require a special rig to sharpen, is easier to touch-up, etc.
I'm also a huge fan of the Scandanavian-style blade as sold by JKM, provided you don't need prying-type strength. As cutters, these things are incredible.