One of the big selling points in the past for the AK, other than its legendary reliability, was its price point. Used to be you could pick up a beater entry level AK for around $300-400, and an entry level AR was twice that or more.
It seems like that is no longer the case. Looking at auctions about to close on GunBroker, the cheapest AK models come in at $600. The "sale" price at PSA is $600 too.
Meanwhile, I can price out a pretty darn good AR for right around there:
- $279 PSA 16" middy upper
- $105 lower kit including nnards and stock kit
- $60-100 receiver
- $100 BCG & $15 charging handle
- $50 basic iron rear sight
Heck if you don't want to assemble it all yourself, you can just get a pre-built lower and slap the upper on it (saving some Pittman-Roberts taxes), or even Wally World is selling entry-level DPMS for around six bills.
It seems that AK supplies are drying up (or demand is rapidly escalating), and meanwhile, as ARs explode in popularity the prices are coming way down, way quick (except for receivers).
I've got a nice BCM 14.5" middy under the bed and an $300 WASR-10 sitting in the safe upstairs. I've shot both platforms. The AK definitely has a few things that appeal to me: I like the gas piston design (easy to clean/run), I like the round (7.62x39 with the right bullet is at least appropriate for white-tail deer if you want to go hunting, and com block ammo is DIRT CHEAP), the ergonomics tend to be ok for me (I shoot rifles lefty so the bolt and safety are actually just right!), and the option for a folding stock is nice. A lot of folks knock the ~4 MOA accuracy out of AKs; given that the round is really only designed for 200 yard shooting anways and most (A) white tail deer hunting and (B) defensive civilian encounters occur within 100 yards that doesn't concern me a whole lot. I would not feel terribly undergunned with an AK for a defensive carbine.
However, the AR is definitely a superior defensive firearm for me in many ways; the biggest killer on the AK for me is the marginal sight setup (the stock irons are not great and have short sight radius) and the slow two handed mag changes. The light recoil on the AR is a plus too.
If the AK was still half the price of an AR, I could see it being a compelling choice for a lot of folks. Comparing a $300 WASR-10 to a $600+ AR is actually kind of a difficult choice. But a cruddy century WASR-10 at a $600 price point or an Arsenal Top-Shelf AK for $1000 is pretty hard to compare to a M4Gery for the same price.