I've had flawless perfromance out of my Kahr PM 9. This gun runs 600 w/o laser but the newer Kahr CM9 is essentially the same guy minus a few touches and is 200 less.
You could get into a CM 9 plus a trigger guard mounted laser for under 600.
I'm not sure about the lazer option, maybe CT grips are available, but i really enjoyed my lil Bersa Thunder 380. They are inexpensive (about $300) and good-looking and reliable in my experience.
Dead Bears, the only good kind.