Not a fan of AK's I went the SKS (Yugo) route. They gives you alittle more punch, my Yugo averages 2504 FPS with Tula 122gr FMJ. Definately more accurate then any AK I've ever shot. Never shot a 5.45 so I can't say anythiing about them.
My two 74's shoot much better than any of my 7.62x39 ak's ever did with ball ammo.....also better than my two russian sks's......Just recently traded for a yugo 59/66 and with yugo brass cased ball it is about on par with my 74's....this is at 200 yard shooting.
Since you are wondering what you want, buy the AK. Its on the anti gun hit list like the AR / M4 system of weapons and will be problematic to buy at some point if politics go sour in the future. You can always find a SKS at that point in time but magazine (high volume mags) fed military rifles like the AK will be high demand and short supply. AK right now are very cheap to buy. This may be your best chance to ever have one.
However if your wallet can't go that deep, buy a Soviet or Yugo SKS. They are higher end in quality than Chicom SKS's. I own them all, its how I see the quality of SKS rank.
A careful analysis of ammo supply here and in the past shows 762x39mm is always available but 545x39mm is problematic. Very few 545x39mm caliber weapons are here vs. 762x39mm caliber weapons. To my knowledge
545x39mm is not made by any American ammo maker. That said, this caliber is dependent on what is imported and that supply is problematic.
If you shoot, and I mean you really shoot, not just a plink a few times a year, the wisdom of buying any weapon for which ammo is problematic deserves careful attention on your part.
I find the SKS a bit more accurate than the AK. Some claim the SKS is a PITA to clean. Doesn't affect me either way. The AK is easier to handle. I prefer the 7.62x39 round so either of these rifles outweighs the AKM for me. Availability of ammo has been better for the 7.62x39. When I am first introducing new shooters to semi-auto rifles, the AK is the rifle of choice to shoot. Fun, easy and easy to train on. SKS prices have been running from $350 to $700 as of late, AK's from $500 to $1000 in my area. Plenty of variants and variations to choose from on either side. AK for me, but I enjoy both!
I have both a Yugoslavian M59/66 SKS and a Polish AKMS, You can't go wrong with any of the three my AK will out shoot my SKS but not by much, If it was me I would just get a well built AK 47 and don't look back just make sure you.stockpile 7.62x39, You will shoot alot of it lol
In my own, personal case: Chicom Type 56 SKS. Don't have to lug around empty Kalashnikov magazines. comfortable to shoot from a bench or prone. No need here for a 30-round magazine on a rifle. Generally OK accuracy. Lots of 7.62x39mm ammunition available. Could be used to hunt should I ever have the opportunity to do so.
My wife: Shares birthdays with Mikhail Kalashnikov. Demands a representative example of the Kalashnikov system. Interest in the world-wide dispersal and history and even mystique of the Kalashnikov. Global iconic statis--one of the most widely recognized objects throughout the world. Doesn't like recoil. Doesn't like to spend money on ammo or anything else: Romanian WASR-2 cheap-o AK-74 5.45x39mm. Calculated the barrel life on the cheap Romanian, bought that many cases of 5.45x39mm surplus ammo when it was really inexpensive. Pile it up in storage.
The Kalashnikov is the most widely-used firearm in the world today. IMO, every gun collector should have one. Mr. K stated in an interview that the Soviets should've never strayed from their .30 short cartridge to the smaller-caliber round.
I got an SKS first, and I think it's good to have both. But my AKMs accompany me to the range more often.
In my own, personal case: Chicom Type 56 SKS. Don't have to lug around empty Kalashnikov magazines. comfortable to shoot from a bench or prone. No need here for a 30-round magazine on a rifle. Generally OK accuracy. Lots of 7.62x39mm ammunition available. Could be used to hunt should I ever have the opportunity to do so.""
I kinda lean to what DaveC is alluding to. I'm seeing $350-450 Chinese SKS's. This rifle is a really good primer. Forget the hi-cap mags and find a stock, #'s matching gun in really good condition with little use. Comfortable to shoot off the bench, relatively cheap to shoot and a great learning tool as far as takedown and cleaning. Then ask at the range to shoot somebodies AK 47 or 74 or Yugoslav SKS. Fun stuff!!