Measuring the price of everything is deceptive. You'll pay a lot less for 7.62x39 ammo than you will for 5.56 by the thousand, so even if you get an Arsenal or something, the cost of the rifle won't matter very much if you shoot regularly, as your purchases of ammo will soon surpass the price of the rifle itself. It seems that 55, 62 gr. 5.56 ammo by the thousand is in the 340 dollar range. 7.62x39 is 230-240 dollars comparatively. So, you really get a lot of bang for your buck out of 7.62x39, even though the entry fee to the AK seems not very worth it nowadays.
Also, magazine prices for the AK can be as cheap or expensive as you want them to be because of the variety, but if you buy European surplus like the Polish mags that AIM surplus has had lately at 10 bucks a piece (they're fucking fantastic), you'll end up paying the same price as USGI M16 magazines.
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