I would love to have this one above in a larger diameter mouth. I don't know why, but the thinner mouth makes me shy away from it. The port in it is GREAT. And the shank length (or lack thereof) is great. Here is where I got the one with the bigger diameter mouth. The shank joints have a bit more motion in them than my thinner one, but it's nothing bad, just a slightly different feel. http://www.chicksaddlery.com/page/CDS/PROD/1040/259350
Hmm. I've never tried a port this high. I would be interested to see how the horses like it. Do you find the higher ports to be milder or more severe? To me, it's not so much about harsher or milder, it's just a different feel and a slightly different action. Because the shanks are basically the same size/angle, there is virtually no difference in the severity. Whether they like it or not depends on the horse. For example, Dobe hates this bit because he likes a lower ported bit that he can pick up and hold with his tongue. With this one, he can't do that and that bugs the crap out of him. On the other hand, one of the horses I grew up on hated tongue pressure of any kind and would fling his head if he didn't have a high port.
I can see them being milder due to tongue room, but I can see them being more severe because of more bar contact and/or touching the palate. Do you feel it ever touches the palate, or not? That port is low enough that there is no chance of it interfering with the palate unless the horse has a very low one...in which case, I would be using my sweetwater bit on him. The curb chain keeps it from pivoting enough to stick straight up toward the palate.
ETA: The top one is by some no-name company that went out of business years ago. I had hell finding another company that was making them similar, but they seem to be gaining popularity again...thankfully.
The one with the higher port is a Tom Balding that my Dad has had for 30+ years. I've compared similar ones by the same maker now and they seem to run around the $120 mark.
I bought one of those NP sweet iron ones just because at the time it was the only one I could find in that style. It wasn't bad, but I had to do a bit of work on it with the anvil and hammer because the shanks were angled differently when it came out of the box.