I'm always in the minority when it comes to Mini-14s. I have a Ranch rifle, and that's what I bought it as. Not a tack driver. Not a trunk gun. Just a really reliable, tough gun with a sturdy feel and reliable action that I could take out into the field and not worry about it functioning in any field condition I might find myself in. I get 2.5" at 100 yards without doing any gunsmithing. Just some common sense tweaks that require no money outlay. True, if you shoot several shots rapidly, it does string. But, if you're in a situation where you HAVE to rapid fire, what's three or four inches? I don't see that I'll ever find myself in that situation. I love mine, and I recommend them. But, if I were going to get a second gun in .223, I'd also get a Saiga. I have one in 7.62x39, but only because I couldn't find a Mini-30 for anywhere near the price. I only paid $280 for the Saiga. I'm starting to think the Saiga line is perfect for back-up rifles in selected calibers. Such as a Savage or Remington in .308, with a Saiga back-up in .308 also.
So, I'd go for the Mini at that price if I didn't already have one. But that's just me.