For a flawlessly functioning, affordable, Kalashnikov rifle in .223 the best bet is a Saiga
. At $229.00 brand new for a .223
(less for 7.62X39) you can't beat 'em.
They are set up with the sporter/hunting style stock and have only a 10 round capacity. But they are easy to convert to high cap and pistol grip, or you may be able to find one already converted. I bought one last month and had it fully converted in three hours.
Email me for details if you wish to convert one yourself
. I sell a Saiga conversion CD
rifles are a good way to go also. You have to use East German Weiger mags in them, and the machine work is not quite as good as on the Saigas but at $350.00 they aren't too expensive either. Get the newest SAR-3 possible if you can. The older ones have soft hammers that need to be replaced after a lot of use. Some had canted front sights, and the furniture looks better on the new ones. The SARs are no longer being imported right now. This may change in Sept. 2004 but nobody knows for sure.
After having both and doing the Saiga conversions, my choice would be a Saiga .223. I have one that I converted and it is just more solid and cosmetically appealing. It is heavier than the SAR-3 but I don't mind. The conversion is easy, it looks better, the trigger and safety are smoother, you don't have to worry about canted sights and it is cheaper. Not much of a choice to me.
All other .223 caliber AKs are just too expensive for me. And I believe the Saigas have just as good or better quality than others anyway.
The top rifle is a converted Saiga .223. The bottom rifle is a SAR-2.
Deserve's got nothin' to do with it.