Review: TRUE XC9 ACF Hockey Stick

Posted: November 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

ACF1

TRUE has certainly raised its profile in the hockey market over the past couple of years. When we first tested its A6.0 and A5.2 sticks, the company has gone from a “new” player in the market to be seen as the future of hockey sticks and equipment in locker rooms across the globe. We say “new” because TRUE has been manufacturing shafts for a number of years, which have been used to win World Junior titles, Stanley Cups and World Championships.

The company definitely has pedigree in stick manufacturing and having recently acquired VH Footwear and relaunching it as TRUE, the company definitely has wind in its sails to take it to the next level, helped by a growing roster of players in NHL and other top leagues opting to use TRUE’s sticks, gloves and skates.

We have been testing the company’s latest flagship stick, the X-Core 9 ACF. We previously tested the first generation X-Core 9 stick and fell suitably in love with it. Whenever a company launches the next edition of a stick or any equipment, we want to know whether it is actually any better, or if it is just re-using old technology with new livery.

Look:

The XC9 ACF does get new look and it makes it look good. TRUE has improved the look of its sticks since the first generation A range. The stick has received new colours, whilst still maintaining its modern styling and the recognisable electric blue lettering. As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and since we’re really interested in the performance, we won’t spend too much time on waxing poetic about the looks

ACF2Weight:

The stick weighs 415grams, which is in line with most top of the range sticks on the market, including the Warrior Alpha QR that we recently tested. However, the stick feels lighter than its stated weight. This is due to the way the stick is balanced.

After having several different players pick up the stick they were all surprised by its weight and how light the stick felt on their hands. What we found with the overall weight distribution of the stick is that the swing weight is better and you are able to unload a shot easier. The low weight and the way it is distributed also helps with getting a quick release off of the stick.

Blade:

One of the biggest surprises of the stick has been the blade. The blade features the urethane insert we saw in the previous XCore 9 stick. The insert is designed to provide 30% more spin on shots. This was one of the features we loved in the stick. In terms of the performance of the insert, it still provides you with great spin on the puck and allows for a great feel. However, for the XC9 ACF, TRUE has re-engineered the blade

ACF3The XC9 ACF has a new blade that features TRUE’s Braided Rib Technology (BRT). This technology means that the blade is now more durable (We’ll come to that later), but it has also mean big improvements on the feel.

You get a “soft” feel from the blade but at the same time a feeling of utter durability. It is difficult to find ways to describe the “soft” feel of the blade. Wayne Gretzky used to sprinkle baby powder on his blade because he believed that made his passes softer. Well, the blade on the XC9 ACF is like that for passing, receiving a pass and shooting. The blade is definitely is one of the highlights of this stick.

While the blade gives you that nice soft feel on the puck, it is actually more durable and rigid than before thanks to the BRT technology we mentioned above. The technology consists of seamlessly braided tubes at the centre and bottom of the blade which reduces cracks in the blade. It was first introduced in the A6.0 stick and won us over when we tested the A6.0 last year.

The BRT technology also increases the strength of the blade. TRUE says the BRT blade is about 50% stronger in comparison to its Active Bond II blade. Additionally the BRT in combination with the X-Core technology provides you with that awesome pop-feel for longer.

Perhaps one of the biggest improvements we’ve noticed in comparing the XC9 ACF to the original XCore9 stick is that our shots feel more consistent that we are able to get the same velocity and get the shot to go to the same location more consistently.

Durability:

As for the durability: Hockey is a tough sport and sticks will break. That’s a fact. As our benchmark for durability, the XC9 ACF has to live up to the standard set by the previous XC9 stick. Our previous XC9 stick lasted a whole season in use. Our test sample gave up the ghost during the off-season when the blade developed a crack, following a player stepping on the blade. As the crack widened during use, the blade lost some of its rigidity. The stick is still intact, but the blade on the original XC9 is not so healthy anymore.

So a full season of use in training and games and only broke once someone stomped on it, it’s pretty good going.

We’ve used the XC9 ACF now for about two months in training and games. The stick is still intact and the blade has only scuff marks from pucks (due to the way we like to apply tape), but these are only cosmetic blemishes as opposed to something to be wary of. Otherwise, there is no chipping of any kind, or signs of wear and tear. The stick has been subject to blocking shots and couple of slashes in game situations, but as said, there are no chips or cracks.

Versus the original:

The XC9 ACF is definitely a step up from the original XC9. The blade is much improved and the stick borrows elements from the A6.0 stick. The A6.0 stick was great for shooting and this element is now more prominent in the XC9 ACF over the original XC9. The swing weight on the XC9 ACF we feel has improved markedly and in comparison to the original XC9, the shots come off the blade quicker.

Range:

What is new with the XC9 ACF stick is that it now encompasses an entire range. TRUE had established it’s A series of sticks and when the original X-Core 9 came out, it was just the X-Core 9 stick. Now you have a range that goes from XC9 ACF to XC5 ACF. This range should appeal to players from across the spectrum that want to experience the XC feel, but might not necessarily want to fork out for the top of the range stick.

This has been one of the positives in TRUE’s evolution, in that it continually evolves its product lines to cater for the requirements of different players.

The XC7 and XC5 feature a lot of the same technology that the elite level stick does. The XC7 weighs in at 455grams and XC5 at 495grams. In terms of the technology both sticks miss out is the Smart Flex from the XC9 and will have a bit more fibreglass inserted to provide added durability (and lower purchase price)

Competition:

How does the XC9 ACF stack up the competition in the market? The Warrior Alpha QX might be a touch a head of the TRUE XC9 ACF in terms of the velocity and power you get behind the shot, but when we compare it to the likes of CCM Ribcor Trigger 2 or the Warrior for that matter, we always come back to the same point; The blade and the versatility of the XC9 ACF is what makes this such a great stick.

Conclusion:

In short, TRUE’s XC9 ACF is for a player that wants a stick that provides them with great amounts of accuracy, quick release and supreme feel in one. It provides you with accuracy control and feel, just as the name suggests. Is it better than the Warrior Alpha QX we recently tested? Yes, we would say that it is better. In fact, we would go as far to say that it is the best stick available in the market now due to its versatility.

The XC9 ACF is a showcase of precision engineering and meticulous product development. This is why TRUE is heralded as the future of hockey equipment. There is a feel from the company that it does not churn out new product for the sake of churning out new product, but there is actually substance behind each new product launch.

In terms of price, yes the XC9 ACF is the flagship product of the XC range and therefore comes with the appropriate price tag, but in comparison with some of the Bauer sticks, you get more bang for you buck. At Hockey Monkey the XC9 ACF is priced around the same price as the Warrior Alpha QX, which we quite liked. So from a price point of view, the XC9 ACF is not the most expensive stick on the market.

Final thoughts: Like a car that always puts a smile on your face every time you drive it, the TRUE XC9 ACF gives you that feeling in a hockey stick. Two months in, and we can’t wait for training days and game days, knowing that we get to play with what is by far the best stick on the market.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s