It’s time to share my experience with a hockey stick that I started testing on the first day of July – the True Catalyst 9X. The Catalyst family is new and includes models with a lot of the latest technologies, making it the next generation of True products.

About True Brand

I do not hide the fact that True is primarily hockey sticks. They have been in this market for a long time (in terms of the era of composite hockey sticks) and have an interesting position here. The American company True Temper Sports (headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee) was founded back in 1902.

True Catalyst 9X Hockey Stick

True Catalyst 9X Hockey Stick

Average price: $299

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The direction of its work is the production of sports products made of metal and composite materials. The company came into hockey in 2000 and acted as a contract partner for hockey sticks production. The thing is that True Temper Sports is the only company in the hockey industry with its production (if something has changed today, please share the information in the comments). One factory in the U.S. (engaged in the production of products made of metal), the second is in China, and there they create products made of composite materials.

Sidney Crosby with a Sher-Wood stick made by True Temper Sports
Sidney Crosby with a Sher-Wood stick made by True Temper Sports

True Temper Sports can be called a full-cycle company that is engaged in the development of not only the product but also the constant improvement of production technologies, which are actively patented. And this technology is actively patented. From 2000 to 2014, True Temper Sports was solely a production site for other brands. Their facilities produced Sher-Wood clubs, some CCM models. Also, there is information about placing orders from STX and rumors that even Bauer manufactured their popular model Supreme One 90 there.

In 2014, True Temper Sports entered the hockey market and launched its brand of hockey sticks. The first model I tried was the A6.0 SBP (second generation), and it completely lived up to expectations, which were high because of the massive hype in North America around the “new” brand products.

The manufacturer received great criticism, and the reputable hockey resource ModSquadHockey even gave the A6.0 (first generation) the title of hockey stick of the year! I liked that True was the first to talk about the importance of stick balance: this indicator is a more objective criterion for an advanced product, and not its overall low weight. I won’t hide it, I was very attracted to this manufacturer.

True Hockey Sticks

Currently, the True brand offers two lines of sticks and one limited-edition Project X model (a low-kick point is slightly different from AX sticks), created in response to the launch of the Bauer Vapor ADV and Warrior Fantom QRE.

The A-series includes clubs with a low-kick point, while the new Catalyst line combines models with a mid-kick point.

It means that it replaces the XCore family, which has been in production for three generations. The slide below shows the current True line of hockey sticks.

Hockey sticks by True
Hockey sticks by True

A-Series low kick models – AX9, AX7, AX5, and AX3 (replacing A6.0 HT and A4.5 HT) and mid kick sticks – Catalyst 9X, 7X, 5X, and 3X.

If we compare the basic properties of the two series, the same Control indicator can indicate a similar feeling when working with the puck.

Also, the shot strength (Power) is the same: this tells us that the A-series rather uses the classic lower deflection point (mid-low rather than ultra-low), which makes the shot more powerful (as a good example, the Warrior of the Alpha line).

Of course, a stick with a low kick has higher responsiveness, the main strong point of models with this arrangement of the working area, but as for accuracy, it is an interesting topic, which we’ll discuss in a little more detail.

It’s all about the distribution of stiffness along with the handle: for hockey sticks with a mid-kick point, the stiffest section is the lower one, which allows you to make the connection between the mating shoe and the blade very stable. It increases the torsional stiffness of the junction (taper) and minimizes its twisting when shooting, which guarantees a more accurate direction of flight of the puck.

The Catalyst line includes four models at different levels. The entry-level price segment stick is the 3X. It’s nice to see the 450g weight. When I started my project, the top leading brands’ sticks weighed about 430g, and today in the lower segment we are offered quite close values in this parameter.

One more pleasant bonus is monolithic construction. This is a distinctive feature of True, because all their sticks have a very advanced monolithic construction (Axenic technology). The blade is made according to last season’s technology BRT+ and the construction material is a combination of carbon and fiberglass.

The 5X replaces the XC5 ACF (2019) and weighs only 430g (70g lighter than XC5 – according to the manufacturer). The stick has a monolithic construction (Axenic technology), is made entirely of carbon fiber, and already has a complete list of new technologies available in the older models 7X and 9X. The Catalyst 7X replaces the XC7 ACF (2019). It weighs 410 grams, which is 15g lighter even than last season’s flagship XC9 ACF (2019). The stick is 100% made of carbon, has a monolithic construction (Axenic technology), and a full list of new technologies.

The flagship of the Catalyst line is the True Catalyst 9X, which I had on my test, and that’s what we’ll talk about next. Soon all the sticks of the new Catalyst family will be available in the official True store. But before that, it’s worth mentioning that True offers two more Catalyst kids hockey sticks in its Catalyst series, the 9X and the 3X. You can see their specifications in the picture below.

True Catalyst 9X and 3X stick specifications and True recommendations for selecting stick stiffness for your kid
True Catalyst 9X and 3X stick specifications and True recommendations for selecting stick stiffness for your kid
True Catalyst 9X Hockey Stick

True Catalyst 9X and 3X stick specifications and True recommendations for selecting stick stiffness for your kid

Catalyst 9X Sticks

I noticed a small special feature in the design of the True Catalyst 9X and AX9. In the picture below you can see that the flagship sticks differ from the other representatives of the line. The Catalyst’s top model is not just yellow, but gold. As for the AX9, the design film in some areas is not transparent, but blue. That’s how True additionally distinguished the sticks of the top segment.

True's flagships are slightly different in design
True’s flagships are slightly different in design

The Catalyst looks very nice, but the True designers failed to come up with something original this time. In the shape of the hockey stick, we can read the moves of the previous years’ models.

So the asymmetric design we saw in Bauer Supreme 1S of the second generation and the Catalyst inscription reminded me of Easton Stealth CX. And I’ve already seen a honeycomb graphic somewhere, but it doesn’t spoil the overall positive impression of the stick’s appearance.

True Catalyst 9X
True Catalyst 9X

On the inner end of the grip, you can note the new design of the information field, where the characteristics of the hockey stick are indicated. Now the information is divided into two zones.

The True Catalyst 9X grip traditionally has a lot of information on the outside of the handle – the place of manufacture (China) and the place of development (USA), warranty and patent information, as well as three stickers with the stick’s serial numbers.

True Catalyst 9X Hockey Stick

With the True Catalyst 9X, this is the first time I’ve encountered a plug that slides out of the handle so gently. It was a shock to me at the time. Usually, they either fall out on their own, or you have to forcibly pull them out with something.

The shape of the True Catalyst 9X grip is quite bulky. The shape is a classic large rectangle with rounded corners for a comfortable grip and advanced ergonomics with slight concavities along the front sides. I was immediately reminded of the Bauer Supreme UltraSonic.

The taper and the blade have a matte finish, similar in effect to light sandpaper. Here I will also note that the stick is, of course, modeled entirely in carbon, and the outer layer is 18K weave, which made its debut in the current A series. Previously True used a 3K twill weave.

Below I’m going to show you a table of the current bends of the True hockey sticks. For the test, I chose TC2, which is an analog of my usual P92/29/W03.

List of current True bends
List of current True bends

Technically, the new Catalyst 9X is a logical evolution of the technologies from the limited edition Project X into a production model, and there are a lot of updates.

But it’s worth starting with the weight of the stick and its balance. The manufacturer’s stated weight is 385g (in the 85 flex version). My measurements showed 390g. For comparison, the weight of the XC9 ACF (Gen 2) in a similar version is 425g.

I mentioned the Axenic technology above. It is a proprietary patented technology for the production of a monolithic True stick. It makes the blade-to-handle joint very compact and lightweight, relieves the load on the lower part of the stick, as well as positively affects the strength and efficiency of energy transfer.

Axenic's proprietary monolithic stick technology
Axenic’s proprietary monolithic stick technology

At one time, I cut an A6.0 SBP stick to look at it from the inside, and indeed, it seems very technologically advanced. There were questions about the fact that the grip battens go into the blade and not just flow into the walls of the blade. Here I would like to comment: this part is made specially to fix the position of the blade stuffing. If this stop were not there, the foam and other elements would simply be squeezed into the grip when baking under pressure.

The stick is modeled entirely from new material (59% lighter than the one used in the XC9 ACF Gen 2) with an 18K weave outer layer and manufactured with the new PLD (Precision Laminate Design) technology, which has replaced SmartPly.

Premium unidirectional carbon fiber is wound in 25 layers, each at the optimum angle to achieve the desired performance properties of the stick, which is baked in a mold at 200 psi: more than anyone else in the industry.

In the end, even these 25 layers turn into a thin, but the very dense and monolithic wall, which, despite its low weight, provides high strength and resistance to impact. The use of higher quality materials and improved manufacturing techniques have significantly reduced the weight of the hockey stick, making it stronger.

Optimizing the position of each of the 25 layers has created a new stiffness profile with a deflection point in the middle of the grip, which should give the best combination of ease of loading, strength, and shot accuracy.

The design of the blade is new. Let me remind you that the distinctive feature of the XCore line was the polymer insert, which allowed effective damping of the impact, which served as a guarantee of throwing accuracy. The hook in the Catalyst has become more like the A-series. It is a reinforced perimeter and an intricate looped design with jumpers in the center. Perhaps, in the future, there will be some detailed information, but for now, we can only rely on this information.

The True Catalyst 9X blade is made using BAT (Braided Aramid Technology). The main goal was to reduce the weight of the construction (in the XCore series it turned out quite massive) without compromising the strength and while maintaining the effect of softening.

For this purpose, we used aramid fiber, which can provide a softer performance compared to carbon. It is from braided aramid fiber that the stiffening ribs are made in the form of special sleeves, inside which the foam filling is placed.

The more powerful frame has made the blade stiffer and lighter, and the use of aramid fiber should increase the damping effect. As for the aforementioned hook fill and aramid sleeves, the Catalyst debuts PASS (Performance Advanced Strengthening System) technology.

This is a new high-density foam that makes the blade 25% stronger (according to the manufacturer). In the end, we can say that the hook is quite ” sophisticated ” in terms of design with a lot of complex elements, which is typical for True.

BAT technology - the stiffeners are made in the form of tubes (sleeves) of aramid fiber
BAT technology – the stiffeners are made in the form of tubes (sleeves) of aramid fiber

I think a few more reference slides will be helpful to get the information you need on all the current True hockey sticks in the various age categories.

Senior stick comparison chart
Senior stick comparison chart
Intermediate stick comparison chart
Intermediate stick comparison chart
Junior stick comparison chart
Junior stick comparison chart

Conclusion

Technically, the novelty is very much a step forward. True took the improved materials and the most advanced technologies from the limited edition Project X and used them in the True Catalyst 9X, adding a completely new foam inside the blade (PASS technology).

True Catalyst 9X Hockey Stick

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It turns out that almost everything has been redesigned: only Axenic remained of the old technology, but I’m not surprised that they are constantly improving it as well. As a result, the stick became lighter and more pleasant to use in comparison with the XC9 ACF of the second and third generations. That said, it survived the test with no complaints, and hopefully, the Catalyst will do well in terms of reliability over long distances. There is no progressive breakdown on the surface, and the grip and blade didn’t “fatigue” after the test, keeping it comfortable to use, which was a weakness of previous models (that I tested).

To say that Catalyst 9X is a continuation of XCore does not seem quite right to me. The stick is completely redesigned and has completely different playability. You can find some notes of past generations in it (the most striking is the active softening of the puck impact on the blade surface, which helps to take the puck), but no more.

That said, I look at almost all of the changes positively. Not a fan of XCore, just not my thing, but 9X was a pleasure to play. Of course, this statement works the other way around as well.

The new True Catalyst 9X feels like a thoroughly modern stick that meets all the 2021 criteria in terms of product, but it’s important to consider its (like any other stick) playability when choosing one to get the results you want on the ice.

Published by Sergei Ermilov
September 30, 2021 (Updated June 15, 2022)