As far as the MAC Pro goes, in considering the handle, blade profile and grind, and the steel, our former knife Guru BDL picked the MAC of his highly coveted Masamoto for a stainless knife. He felt the stainless of the MAC was better (not that it was astounding as stainless goes), as well as the shape of the handle, and that trumped what was for him the Masamoto's preferred profile. That's saying a lot for the MAC. And that being said his goto knives were a Konosuke HD and a Richmond Ultimatum in 52100 steel that had been thinned some (semi-stainless laser and midweight carbon gyutos).
To answer another question you had, from 0-$300 I'd pick a 240 suji in SRS-15 or preferably HAP-40 steel, unfortunately neither are available at this time. The super-fine grain, toughness, wear resistance, good edge stability and reasonable sharpening ease of these CPM alloys is just too appealing to me to consider spending a large chunk of doe on anything else. I'm not particular about handles myself, outside of something you'd find on an NSF knife of course, I just need a good flat spot on the edge profile.