Logan, if you want a real sword, just look around the forums, we've listed our favorites enough. However, you cannot get a sword of any quality for that price. Here's why
"Choosing a cheap steel for a hand made custom sword is just ridiculous. Get the very best steel. Most of the cost will be labor anyways." -Master Daniel Watson
A 3'x2"x1/4" bar of S7 steel costs $52.18
. Sure, you can save money by buying in bulk, but not that much.
Plus, good quality wood for the hilt and sheath will cost you $20-40 (several times that for exotic stuff), you can't just go to Home Depot if you want it to not crack.
Brass or other metal for the fittings and pommel: $25 at the very least for a cast metal pommel and guard. Add in fuel for the fire and you are looking at easily $100 just for decent materials.
Now labor. A good swordsmith costs money, a lot of money. Even if all he does is operate a milling machine which cuts the steel and he then assembles, tempers and polishes the blade and hilt, this isn't something that you can just hire someone off the street. A traditional Japanese apprenticeship takes 4 years, and Angelsword's Daniel Watson has a 12 year program (yes, you read that right). A forged blade can take days, and even machined swords take several man-hours of skilled labor to temper and assemble.
Equipment - Hammers and anvils? No. Machine shops, mills, polishing machines, tempering furnaces, even cryogenic processing units. All of these are necessary for rapid production of blades, and none are cheap.
Profit- A blade will return a profit to the seller, otherwise it would not be sold in the first place.
Good materials can easily cost your entire budget, and good labor alone will be several times that. Yet, anyone who sells you a sword is making money at their prices. That means they use cheap materials and cheap labor, meaning any product that you buy at that even twice that price is junk.
[This message has been edited by Benjamin1986 (edited 12-22-2004).]