True XC9 ACF Review Blog
It’s no big secret that since they entered the market with their original A6.0 I have been impressed by most of what True has done. Although with that history comes ever-rising expectations, I’m happy to report that True has once again exceeded them with the True XC9 ACF.
First things first – what does “ACF” mean? ACF is an acronym for the three key features of this stick: Accuracy, Control, and Feel.
True’s primary focus is improving the way sticks feel in your hands, both on and off the ice. Today most players prefer a lightweight stick, but thanks to their years of experience in both hockey and the golf industry, True knows that there’s more to making a lightweight stick than simply shaving a few more grams off the scale.
A true lightweight feel comes from both the actual weight of the stick and where that weight is distributed – creating what’s called a balance point. Changing the balance point can make two sticks with identical actual weight feel drastically different. Based on our own measurements, True only eliminated about 15 grams between the two models, but thanks to the adjustments made to the balance point and swing weight, it feels like a much larger difference.
The balance point also dictates the ‘Swing Weight’ of the stick. Optimized ‘Swing Weight’ not only feels more natural as you play, it can actually help improve performance. Improving the ‘Swing Weight’ of a stick helps generate more speed when shooting for more power, allows players to exert less energy, keeping them fresher as the game progresses and feels lighter to allow for quicker, more agile hand movements and better overall puck control.
The first thing I noticed when I picked the True XC9 ACF up was how light it felt. The work True put in paid off. I wasn’t the only one who noticed the weight difference either, I brought my stick with me to coach a practice and showed one of my players who has played True sticks for a couple seasons now and is currently using the original XCore 9, “I can’t believe how much lighter they made this, it’s kind of insane.” This was from someone who picked up the latest True XC9 ACF just seconds after having the original in his hands.
Now that we’ve covered how light it feels, let’s get to on-ice performance.
While performance was never really an issue with the original XCore 9, there were some concerns around durability and longevity. True heard these concerns and made changes to the ACF to fix those issues. The biggest was the modifications made to their Braided Rib Technology blade. The purpose of the BRT blade was to connect the front and back of the blade with a stronger, lighter internal structure. In the True XC9 ACF model, they have improved the bond between the front and back faces with the aim of creating a more durable blade that performs more consistently throughout the life of the stick. So far, I would say that they have been successful as I haven’t seen any signs of performance breakdown.
As soon as I started handling the puck I liked the feel. Similar to the original XCore, in my opinion the puck feel is second to none. It has a soft yet responsive feel, preventing the puck from bouncing off the blade but giving plenty of feedback so you always know where the puck is on your stick.
The way the lower portion of the stick is weighted is definitely noticeable when handling the puck. If a stick is too blade-heavy, it can slow down your hands, and if it’s too light, you start to lose feel for the puck, but True found happy medium that balances weight and control.
When I started shooting with the True XC9 ACF, I was pleasantly reminded of how smooth and crisply the puck comes off of the XCore blade. Every puck seems to really jump off the blade face hard. The blade features the same compressible insert as the original, designed to keep the puck in contact with the blade longer, producing more puck rotation. By producing as much as 30% of extra spin on the puck, shots are harder and more accurate. The concept works similarly to throwing a football – the tighter the spiral, the more accurate and faster it flies.
I usually take snapshots, but every now and then I’ll let a clapper go from the point. Although the stick performed great on both shots and is among the most versatile on the market, I wouldn’t put it at the very top of the list for either shot. I’d say that the CCM Ribcor Trigger has a slightly quicker release on snapshots and the Bauer Supreme 1S generates more power on slapshots, but neither are as versatile as the XC9.
It’s tough to improve on a stick as impressive as the original XCore 9, but I think True has done so with the True XC9 ACF. There were not a lot of holes in the performance but they managed to improve the weight and address one of the few criticisms by improving the stick’s durability.
The True XC9 ACF is available for presale now and will be available in stores on March 15th.
Spec Tested: 75 Flex, TC4 Pattern
Date Tested: February 2017