If those baby Aks don't float your boat, a PSL or Vepr in 7.62x54r, Yugo M76 in 8x57mm or a Yugo M77, Vepr has one as well, in .308 are always a blast if your rural, well backwoods like me. A rabid whitetail doesn't stand a chance at any distance then.
A Saiga 12, Vepr 12 is always fun too, a Saiga 410 can be fun as well, these shotguns would eliminate any over penetration worries
A Vz58/Vz2008 is another good alternative, it's lighter weight, about a pound lighter, has less felt recoil, with lighter aluminum alloy mags and a fully machined receiver. Folders are common if thats your thing, or remove a large bolt and make it a fixed stock. Even slightly more accurate than an Ak as well in my experiance. And nope, you cant have either of mine.
In regular Aks, I lean towards Chinese, usually a little more money than what vendors sell their current ones for. I have 2 Mak90s and have been very happy, heavy built 1.5mm RPK reciever, a slightly heavier barrel than European Aks and a factory double hook trigger thats pure enjoyment, smooth as butter
Get a square cut receiver and covert the thumbhole to regular Ak stock and grip, you can convert a slant cut, but it looks weird. A Bulgarian Arsenal and Polish are very nice as well.