I really like Dynasty Forge and a number of the Paul Chen blades are good. I like to cut with a Practical Plus (Paul Chen), it cuts very well and is reasonable in cost (averages $250.00). Nice aspect about cutting with a sword at this level is if I bend or damage it I am not out several thousand dollars.
If you are getting a shinken for the first time, it is good to start with an inexpensive one to learn with. Taking care of something like this is unusual for some people; learning to clean and care for. Again if it gets damaged a nice blade hasn't been ruined.
Some of my students have been getting some really nice Dynasty Forge "seconds" from Athena for about $250.00. Really good cutters and look nice too. We are still not sure where the blemishes are at on the products.
Once you have some experience with low level shinken and you know how to take take of them, and have learned what you want in a sword; then think about purchasing something nicer.
1. Dynasty Forge
2. Fred Loman
3. Paul Chen
4. Bugei (kinda pricey for what you get)