Re: Iaito Sword Question
Um, fwiw I've been "serving" that world for the last decade. My comment about all the advice here on various things is... Ask your sensei.
I assume if you are training formally you know what you need in terms of mogito vs. shinken vs. bokken. As you've read people have a lot of opinions about when you should use those in your training. People ask me all the time since I've worked across a lot of styles and helped a lot of people get what they needed. And the answer is always the same -- "what does your sensei say you need? Get that." The rest of the debate is really irrelevant to what any individual needs who is within formal training. So it is somewhat misplaced here in this discussion.
If sensei says "get a mogito", get a mogito. The rest of the discussion here is interesting, but it is ultimately irrelevant.
Tozando often has sales putting swords in your price range. Good stuff and probably your best bet. Meirin Sangyo iaito have a nice range but your price range may be a bit low for those. Swordstore in the US used to sell the nosyu swords. This is a *very* confusing area as there were lawsuits, etc. over the name, distribution, etc. I do now know what they sell now so I really can't comment much on their stuff. Best is to probably ask on a place like e-budo's sword forum.
Which actually is something I should have said to start with... With all due respect to people here, this probably isn't the best forum for asking about iaido or mogito for iai training. E-budo.com has a forum on sword styles that is probably a much better resource for this. And you'll get opinions of people who use mogito for iai training including some *very* highly ranked, experienced people in iai. I am sure there are some folk like that here as well, but ... This is aikiweb...
Best of luck.