Keep It Real: My True Hockey Sticks Review (2021 Edition)

Today’s post contains my True hockey sticks review. If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you might have noticed that sometimes the inspiration for a post comes from research that I need to do for my own purposes. There definitely was some of that going on here, but I expanded my research to give you a more complete picture of the entire line of True hockey sticks (not including goalie sticks).

True is an intriguing brand, simply for the fact that the hockey equipment ecosystem is dominated by the two powerhouses of Bauer and CCM. When a new brand enters the hockey market and is able to hold its own, people – myself included – take notice.

In a relatively short period of time, True has built a devoted following, not just with stars like Mitch Marner, but among recreational and youth players too. That’s why I wanted to look at True as I researched new hockey sticks for both my kids, and subsequently decided to write a post reviewing all of True’s sticks.


True History

As it turns out, even though the True Hockey brand is new in the sense that hockey products weren’t marketed under the True name until recently, the company has actually been involved with hockey for a while. True Temper has been the dominant maker of golf club shafts for over a century, but also expanded into other sports, including hockey, over the past few decades.

For several years after initially entering the hockey market in 2000, True operated behind the scenes, designing and building hockey sticks for other companies, who would then market True’s innovations under their own names.

In 2014, the company began selling products under the True Hockey brand rather than supplying them to other companies. In less than a decade, True has established a strong brand. It’s worth noting that True is the only hockey company besides Bauer and CCM that offers products for skaters across all equipment types (skates, sticks, and protective).

Our focus in this post, of course, is just on True’s sticks. So, let’s get started!


Two Camps

True’s player sticks come in two lines, the A Series and the X Series, which are designed to accommodate the needs of differing styles of play. I’ll break down the differences here.

One quick note: you’ll see a lot of references to kick point and flex as I talk about the specs and features of the different sticks here. If you don’t feel 100% confident in your knowledge of those things and how they relate to hockey stick performance, please check out this post I wrote that explains both – it’ll make the descriptions of the sticks below a lot easier to understand.

A Series

The A Series sticks all have a low kick point to allow for quick “loading” and a powerful shot release. As you might guess, these features are especially beneficial for players that need to get shots off quickly in high-traffic situations. Not surprisingly, Toronto’s Mitch Marner is a long-time user of A Series sticks (though he recently switched to True’s Project X stick, a low-kick stick that, despite its name, is not part of the X Series).

X Series

In contrast to the A Series, True’s X Series sticks have a mid kick point, which tends to be better for players that have a little more time and space when they shoot the puck. The hallmarks of the X Series sticks are shooting accuracy, control, and feel – hence the ACF at the end of the model names of X Series sticks.


True A Series Sticks

True AX9

The AX9 is the top model in the A Series. As such, it’s the best example of the key features in the line. True’s Fibershield technology places low-density nanoparticles throughout the blade and shaft of the stick. This results in the AX9 being stronger (in terms of resistance to impact) and more balanced than the previous top model in the A Series.

Also contributing to the AX9’s improved durability is the company’s SmartPly process, which involves placing up to 25 layers of carbon fiber in the stick’s shaft at angles that maximize strength and balance while minimizing weight.

Maybe the most important technical features that are new to the AX9 are in the blade. Here, True uses BRT+ (BRT stands for Braided Rib Technology). This gives the blade a more consistent feel, and also makes it more durable, especially in the heel. In the past, some True sticks had issues with blade durability, but this improvement addresses that issue very well.

Like all A Series sticks, the AX9 has a low kick point, which makes it easy to load and get a fast, powerful release. The stick is light, and feels especially light during play because it’s so well-balanced. That can actually take a little getting used to, but once you adjust you’ll find that the lightness combined with the responsive feel makes puck handling a breeze.

Overall, the AX9 is what you would expect from a top-end stick. It’s lightweight but strong, provides a snappy, responsive feel for the puck, and is unmatched when it comes to firing quick-release wrist and snap shots. If you’re a sniper who takes a lot of shots in high-traffic areas, you should give serious consideration to the AX9.

True AX7

There aren’t many differences between the AX9 and the AX7. The AX7 weighs just a little bit more, but the upside is that this stick is slightly more durable. In terms of how it plays, you’ll enjoy similar qualities as with the AX9: a balanced feel, a low kick point that allows for easy loading, and a fast release. Importantly, the senior model of the AX7 is four inches longer than the senior models of the other A Series sticks, making it a good choice for taller players. Overall, the AX7 is an excellent choice if you want a high-quality stick and are willing to live with it weighing a little more to save a few bucks compared to the top-end model.

True AX5

The AX5 is a solid mid-range stick that will meet the needs of a lot of recreational players. Again, the big difference between this model and the one above it is weight. The AX5 weighs 16 grams more than the AX7, even though it’s four inches shorter.

Regardless, the AX5 shares the same design ethos as its higher-end A Series siblings, meaning it’s well-balanced, has a low kick point, and provides easy loading and quick release on your shots. True bills the AX5 as a stick that is the perfect intersection of balance, weight, and durability against impact. I would say that it’s better on price than weight, but then that’s always the trade off with sticks, right? For a lot of players, the lower price and increased durability make it a worthwhile trade.

 

True AX3

The fourth and final stick in the A Series is the line’s entry-level model, the AX3. I’ve mentioned already that as you move down from the top-end AX9, each stick weighs a little bit more than the model above it. That’s the case again here, of course. In fact, the weight difference between the senior models of the AX5 and AX3 is bigger (30 grams) than between the AX9 and AX7 or the AX7 and AX5.

As you might expect, that makes for a noticeable difference, but the AX3 still has the same general characteristics as the rest of the A Series sticks. In fact, the excellent balance helps this stick feel lighter than comparably-priced entry-level sticks from other brands.

I also think it’s helpful to have some perspective when it comes to stick weight. I said that the 30-gram difference between the AX3 and AX5 is noticeable, but I mean that it will be noticeable to fairly advanced players, or those that are used to playing with mid-range or high-range sticks. For a beginner or lower intermediate player, or someone getting back into the game after a long time, this stick won’t feel heavy at all.

Just to add a little context, I remember as a kid hearing about a new stick that was the lightest on the market at the time. I think it was the Sherwood PMP 9030, but I’m not sure. Anyway, that stick, if I recall correctly, weighed 17 ounces, meaning that it was just about 18 grams heavier than the True AX3. Food for thought…


True X Series Sticks

True XC9

The full name of the top model in the X Series is XC9 ACF. The ACF, which is used in the names for all models in the X Series, stands for “Accuracy, Control, Feel” – three of the key features of X Series sticks.

The XC9 also incorporates True’s BRT+ technology in the blade. Again, what this does is increase the blade’s durability, especially in the heel, by extending the reinforcing threads inside the blade along more of the blade’s length. Another technical feature that the X Series shares with the A Series is the SmartPly process, which optimizes the angles of the up to 25 layers of carbon fiber in the shaft for balance and strength while reducing weight.

While these features are shared between the X Series and A Series, there are differences.

One is the XCore Gen 2 insert in the blade of the XC9. This insert helps absorb and dampen the impact of the puck on the stick. With the XC9, the insert was redesigned and repositioned inside the blade, resulting in a sweet spot that’s three times larger than the predecessor to the XC9. That translates into better puck control when handling the puck and receiving passes. It also helps the puck stay in contact with the blade better when shooting. That means you’ll get better puck spin and a cleaner puck trajectory, leading to more accuracy on your shots.

As I mentioned before, X Series sticks all have a mid kick point. That said, the flex profile has been modified from previous models, so the top of the shaft is a little softer. True calls this SmartFlex, and it helps in situations where you don’t have time to take full advantage of the energy transfer that the mid kick point allows. Still, the XC9 is best for players that tend to get everything on a shot, whether you’re bombing slap shots from the point or staring down the goalie as you walk in and then wiring a wrist shot.

True XC7

The XC7 is very similar to the XC9, with the main difference being the weight. As you can guess, the upside of the extra weight in the XC7 is that it probably is a little bit more durable in terms of resistance to impact.

Otherwise, the XC7 will play similar to the top model, as it shares the same design ethos. The XCore Gen 2 insert in the blade delivers the same soft puck feel and shooting accuracy. Combined with the mid kick point and SmartFlex profile, it makes the XC7 a great stick for someone that wants to take hard, accurate shots and get a little more durability at the same time.

True XC5

Rounding out the X Series is the XC5. Yes, there are only three sticks in the X Series, where the A Series has four. No word yet on if True will add a fourth model to the mid-kick collection when a new generation is rolled out in late 2021.

In any case, you probably know what I’m going to say at this point. The XC5 weighs about 40 grams more than the XC7. Most of that additional weight is in the shaft, meaning that it increases the stick’s impact strength. It’s the BRT+ technology that makes the blade both lighter and stronger, so some of that weight savings is redistributed into the shaft. That goes for all of True’s sticks in both the X Series and A Series, it’s not just with the XC5.

Overall, the XC5 might be one of the best bargains of any stick on the market. In terms of performance, it definitely doesn’t feel like just some entry-level stick, that’s for sure. So, if you’re looking for a mid-kick stick and value shooting accuracy and a soft feel when handling the puck, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the XC5 is an excellent choice.


Is True for You?

I hope that this post has helped you get a sense for what True sticks have to offer. With the different features of the A Series and X Series sticks, there really is something for everyone regardless of playing style.

As I touched on, when people had complaints about earlier generations of True sticks, they typically were about durability, specifically in the blade. That’s why True introduced the BRT+ technology in all of the sticks we looked at here. This has made a noticeable improvement in blade durability, putting True on par with other brands on that front. And, I love that the company found a way to do this while actually reducing weight in the blade.

When it comes to performance, I have been really impressed with True. Both the A Series and X Series play as intended, and across both lines and all price points, the excellent balance is a real differentiator. Whether you prefer a more lively feel when handling the puck and prioritize a quick shot release (A Series), or you like a softer feel and place a premium on shooting accuracy (X Series), I recommend True hockey sticks enthusiastically.


One Timers

It would be great to hear from you. Do you use a True stick, or have you in the past? If so, what model(s), and how has your experience been? And if you’re shopping for a stick and are looking at True, is there anything you’d like to know that wasn’t included in this review? Please leave your comments and questions below. Thanks!

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