What you saw probably was a Shure KSM 141s.
That is a small diaphrgm mic that basically replaces the sm81. It is much smoother and can do omni as well as cardiod.
I would recommend you looking into a pair of the ksm137s - they are cardiod only version of the 141 that I use so often. Nice as a snare mic too in some applications.
They might be priced a bit above what you are looking to spend though - maybe a pair of those Octava small diaphragms? or may the MXLs sound OK? I don't know. Just edited to add this - Studio Projects mics are made in China, but that company is a very good company that understands audio and cares (it seems to me) more than most. You should check out their lineup and see if there is something there for you. There are so many brands in this price range it is numbing!
You might want to consider checking on evil-bay for a used pair of better mics than the current slew of chinese largge or small diaphrgms. If you buy better ones, then you will never question their abilities and can keep them forever!
ONce you get under around 400- per mic, I don't have first hand experience. Maybe someone else has some suggestions? look around.
Check out www.gearslutz.com
. They have a "low end section" (meaning, not expensive!) and I think it is a great website/forum for recording.