The older Sabatiers have very fine grain structure and high(er) hardness. There are many custom French smiths who work with C50-C100 steels and make beautiful custom chef's knives for prices much lower than their North American equivalents (i'm not divulging, yet).
But I agree with you insofar that I wish there was a contemporary Sabatier production knife that used a higher grade steel although the simple carbon steel they use isn't bad by any stretch, and will stand up to the abuse of cutting through rib bones better than most.
In addition to all of the comments above about the less expensive knives that get discussed here, I'd encourage you to check out the Buy/Sell/Trade forum. Frequently you can get an expertly cared-for knife used at 40-60% of the new price...and they'll usually give it a professional edge before they ship it out. This makes it possible to get some REALLY good knives for $50 or so....which is wal-mart/target pricing for henckels/wusthoff level knives.
Remember: You're a unique individual...just like everybody else.
I am amazed how such a simple question brought up such a vast amount of knowledge and information.
But then I guess this is what this forum is about.