Well I have or have had almost every AK varient imported and the Chinese guns are no where near the top of the heap. There seems to be some mystique around the chinese guns simply because they have been banned for a number of years, limited QTY may drive the price up but high price doesnt mean they are better or nicer firearms, it just meens there is a set cap on the qty which drives up the price.
The Norincos which were actualy made in a number of plants as were the polytechs. I have AKs marked as polytechs out of 2 diff arsenals , I have norincos out of at least 3 diff arsenals.
There were some nice polytech underfolders in 223 with balck and plum furniture that came in in the late 80's that were nice and the polytech legends were all fairly nice. Like the norinco not all polytech stamped guns came out of the same factory .
There is such a huge range of qaulity, fit and finish in the chinese guns, most people call out the polytech legend (which are very nice)and assume all chinese AKs are as nice but the reality is the bulk of the Chinese AKs are fairly poorly made as are most of the items out of China . I sold in excess of 1000 chinese AKs imported by Kengs and a couple of other importers and they are not all the same. I will say the worst Chinese AK is better than the average Romanian but they are not the best made if you compare machine work, fit and finish.
The nicest AK variants would be the Valmets , Ill leave out the Galil but it and the Valmet tie for #1 .
As far commonly available AKs the milled Bulgarian guns are some of the nicest made. The early Gordon Tech G guns are very nice but somewhat hard to find. I cant speak to the latest Bulgarians but the During ban milled guns and the Gordon tech guns ar top notch.
You can hold the nicest Chinese milled polytech side by side with the milled Bulgarian and the supperior fit, finish and qaulity of the Bulgarian gun will be evident. I will admit that horrible purple/black paint the Bulgarians use really detracts from their score but quite a few of them are parkerized and the paint will wash off with brake cleaner
There are some polish underfolders floating around that are also extremley well made , although ususaly built on US made receivers.
The Yugo guns are decent qaulity but they do not and have never had chrome lined barrels. The mitchel guns are pretty nice. The Yugos also have very high quality machine work and are very solid guns .
The romanian stuff is fairly crude but functional and probably the best value in the long run if your looking for something to invest in for sale during a ban .
You have to be very careful with the Egyptian Maadis , some of the early guns that were imported are actualy made in Poland, not egypt and are very nice .Everyone defaults to these polish made egyptian maadis and assumes they are all the same , like the chinese gun the maadi is probably one best bought in person instead of gbroker.
The truley egyptian made guns have nice bbls as they were sourced from Bulgaria and Poland but the rest of the gun looks like they were hammered out by a bare foot guy between two rocks .
On occasion you might find an east german Ak assembled from a parts set , these are very nicely made parts also .