Partly for photo prop and research purposes, and partly for the hell of it, I bought myself a cheap Airsoft M1911A1 replica last week, and it arrived today. I only paid about $13 for it, plus shipping and handling, so I'll just preface this review by saying you get what you pay for, and for $13, this isn't too bad.
Here's the box. Note the finish on the gun almost looks like government-model matte gunmetal grey. Also note that there's no orange muzzle cap on the end, and there are no markings by the slide release, mag release, or safety. Also, there's a picture on the side of the box showing a drawstring bag and mention of a manual inside.
Here's the gun in the box, minus the cellophane wrapper. Note the third indentation, which had nothing; I bet that is where the bag or manual should have been. Also note that the gun is a matte black finish, not the dark metallic gray appearance on the box. Also note the white markings by the three mechanisms. The paintjob was uneven, with a number of small flaws here and there. If I had the skill and a good airbrush set, I'd paint this thing a dark gunmetal metallic gray.
Here's the gun out of the box. At this point I've handed it for maybe ten minutes. Although it's obviously a cheap replica, it still has a nice heft to it. The lower frame is plastic, while the slide and trigger/levers are metal. However, if you look closely, you can see that the paint is already beginning to wear along the edge of the safety and the hammer.
Here's the pistol locked back. Note that the orange safety tip is actually the whole shroud of the small 6mm barrel, so you can't just "pop" the end off - you'd have to actually saw it away from the end in order to make it look less like an Airsoft gun. Doable, but definitely more effort. Also, there is very little tension on the slide release spring; it actually wouldn't really catch unless you locked the slide back with real "authority". However, the magazine has a good weighty heft to it, and when fitted into the pistol, the gun's plastic lower assembly doesn't feel as off-balance. I've handled and fired an M1911A1 before, and this feels pretty good in the hand, all things considered.
Here's the pistol in "Condition One". Fun fact - the safety does NOTHING on this pistol. If you pull back the hammer and pull the trigger while on safe, the hammer drops. If you cock the gun by racking the slide and pull the trigger, the firing spring trips (which would fire the pellet) and the hammer drops. However, to the designer's credit, the grip safety DOES work, so unless you have this thing firmly gripped, the trigger can't be pulled, and the trigger when cocked is fairly robust; it won't go off with just a light touch but needs a few pounds of pressure to trip.
All in all, for $13, it's not bad. I'd consider doing some touchup painting, and I expect the minor springs to wear out fairly quickly, but if this was a theater or reenactment prop piece, especially with the safety barrel shaved down and painted black, it would be shockingly realistic; I doubt anyone who didn't know better would know it's a fake pistol outside of five or ten feet. Note that this means leaving the orange safety barrel on there is probably a VERY good idea if you live or take this thing anywhere you might get shot for "brandishing a firearm".
After buying this, I'd consider buying a somewhat better quality Airsoft M1911A1 and compare the two. I know there's a lot of Airsoft MilSim guns out there, and I'd definitely like to get my hands on a couple more.