First of all, I question your price range on ammunition. I checked 3 of the popular online sites for this caliber and they ranged from $120 for 440 rnd tins up to $289 for 500 rnd cases. Several online gun shops were selling Mosin Nagants for $119–$419. Not so cheap anymore, especially with the fighting going on in the Ukraine.
I don’t think the days of cheap rifles and ammo are destined to be around much longer. They also have a reputation for being a “kicker.” So, not my idea of a first gun for a newbie. Scopes are difficult to mount, especially with that odd, in my opinion, bolt handle. Yes, there are aftermarket accessories that will alleviate some of those concerns, but that increases the initial cost.
You are right that it is powerful and can be an effective hunting rifle, but would not be my first choice for self defense. Of course, it all depends upon your intent for the weapon. Personally, I would much prefer to suggest that someone save up a bit more and find a nice low end or second hand Remington, Ruger, Stevens, or Savage. They are easier to learn to shoot well, and can be had in a variety of calibers that will be much more prevalent for a longer period of time, and handle any situation you will need them to handle. And don’t forget to start reloading for the time ammo of all types dries up. Just my opinion.