4 years ago I purchased the Victorinox Forschner knife with black plastic handles set the fits the discussion above. My family and I consider those knives scary sharp which might only be due to the fact before purchasing these we only had cheapo sets that were after having these I would consider dull from the factory. These in reality could be be used by us for a lot longer, but I want something nicer, but not just the same with a nicer handle.
I would like to spend the money for better steel and build quality over all, but not necessarily the best. I'm not married to any brands the only thing I know I don't want is full bolsters as I prefer being able to sharpen the entire length. I'll probably continue to use the Forcshners for cutting up chicken and ribs and cooking outdoors. I cook a lot of fish, meat, and vegetables, and occasionally complex carbs. I hand wash and dry all my knives immediately after use and hone them on a steel and plan on purchasing either a Wicked Edge or Edge Pro sharpening system.
I'm not sure if I want Japanese, German, French, American... I've thought about Japanese brands, but after reading that they are damaged more easily than others I've had second thoughts.
Any suggested Brands/Models and advice on my quest for the best bang for my buck will be appreciated. I understand that many think a person must handle a bunch of knives to see what best fits them for ballance, etc. I can see the benefit of that if I were using them in a commercial kitchen all day, but I rarely spend more than an hour in the kitchen at time, but I like quality tools as I figure buy once and last a lifetime is better than buy cheap over and over.
I might be willing to consider spending up to $500 if the knives are significantly better than what I can get for <$400.