Tire choice

I realize everyone has a personnel choice, Ive been reading and studying tires for about 3 days, Im not a tire expert by any means, Ive already put mud lites A/T on the front, After I realized they do not have the best reputation as far as side wall punctures go. So I was determined to pick a lot better tire for the rear and live with the fronts and see how they do. After reading a lot Im finding that a lot of the tires out there also puncture fairly easy. I want to stay stock size or maybe go up to a 26" but no more than that. With out spending 200.00 per tire which is ridiculous as far as my wallet is concerned.
What is out there that truly works, Im not a big mud rider, Not to say there isn’t any mud on the trails I ride, I ride mainly Mountain trails, Rock, Loose rock, tree roots, Hills, etc
I cant seem to find a tire or tread pattern for this, My dealer said they sell more mud lites than any other tire and have never had a problem with them, So is he lying to me or are people exaggerating about them, Ive seen as many complaints about Bear claws getting punctured also. So is it a crap shoot with all tires or is there one that is bullet proof at 100.00 or so per tire.