#1
...to the guitar store. Or rather stores. I tried out some of the brands I was looking at, but I couldn't find really any of the specific guitars. So I played:

Ibanez GRG170DX

Schecter Omen 6

ESP LTD MH-103QM

Now, it's probably just because I don't really know what I'm doing, but I didn't notice much difference in any of these guitars, even though I used 2 different amps. I also tried to play an ESP that had humbucker pickups, and I could easily tell the difference between that and these I played. The above are all in my price range so my question is, what do you all think?
Maximum volume yields maximum goats.
#3
the schecter might be a good place to start, the other two are good guitars, and the esp ltd looks amazing, but the problem is that tremolos on low end guitars usually cause alot of problems later on. the schecter, having a fixed bridge, wont give you any of those problems.

plus, schecters are awesome anyway.
#4
Either the Schecter or the ESP, depending on whether you want a guitar with a tremolo or not because otherwise they're built pretty much the same (both basswood, bolt-on, etc).

I would go for the ESP only if you would be willing to replace the tremolo later on once it starts to wear out and get out of tune easily. But if you don't want to deal with that then go for the schecter.
Personally I wouldn't choose any of those guitars if I was at that price range, instead I would save up to at least 500 dollars and get a decent guitar. But if I had to buy a guitar in that price range i would get this:

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Laguna-LE322-Electric-Guitar?sku=515716

I know is more than 300 which I assume you don't want to spend over, but this guitar is surprisingly good for the price. If you get the chance try it out.
#6
Okay, the schecter I played had a spot for a tremelo bar, so that reasoning is kind of moot, huh? However, the guy I was talking to said that the locking nuts under the headstock on the ESP help keep the it in tune. Chances are, I'll end up going ESP, because of those locking nuts, and the fact that my parents' friend is like VP at the place I played the ESP, so I could probably get a better price. The amp I used at the other store was a really beat up marshall, but it was set up with ALL of the BOSS effects pedals, so it was kind of cool... But the VOX amp I used at the other place was nicer in quality, and came with several effects channels. Also, the guy who helped me said I could probably get the pickups changed on the ESP changed to EMGs for about $100.
Maximum volume yields maximum goats.