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A pruner for trees and shrubs, the Stihl GTA 26 uses a saw chain for cutting and is designed to tackle those tough jobs around the garden. Powered by a 10.8v battery, this baby tool has more power than you’d expect, easily cutting through thick logs and branches.

If you have lots of trees and shrubs to deal with then the GTA 26 is a smart, compact and powerful way to make your life easier – and it comes highly recommended.

Stihl GTA 26 design – A mini pruner that’s comfortable to hold

The Stihl GTA 26 is classed as a garden pruner for trees and shrubs, but it shares some DNA with the company’s chainsaw range using a saw chain for cutting, with a 10cm-long guide bar and a 1/4in chain gauge. This is not a chainsaw, though, and Stihl has designed the GTA 26 to be a safe and easy-to-hold tool for gardeners.

This model uses a pistol grip with a rubberised handle, fitting snuggly in one hand. For safety, the saw should be used with a second hand placed on top for stabilisation. For further protection, this model has a guard on top to prevent user contact with the saw.

Stihl GTA 26 chain

The guard ensures you don’t get anywhere near the spinning chain

Stihl has other safety features, too, including scabbard to cover the saw when it isn’t in use. In addition, starting the GTA 26 requires you to first engage a finger switch before you can press the trigger. This stops the saw from going off as you carry it around. Of course, the battery needs to be in place for the saw to be live; neatly, the handy carry case lets you store the battery separately, so you can transport the saw without having any power in it.

There’s some basic maintenance required, but it’s all easy with Stihl providing tool-free access to the chain and sprocket inside. Once the sprocket cover is off, you can remove the guide bar and chain. You can also adjust the tension of the chain, with the manual showing you how to do this step-by-step. It’s a touch fiddly, requiring a bit of practice to get right, but it’s not a job you have to do all of the time.

Stihl GTA 26 battery meter and sprocket cover

There’s tool-free access to the guide bar and sprocket

As with all tool, the GTA 26 will require a degree of upkeep. Oil for lubrication is included, with the manual providing instruction on where it needs to be applied. Typically, you should oil the chain each time you deplete the battery after cleaning out any caught up debris.

Stihl GTA 26 open carry case

Inside the carry case you get everything you need to maintain and use the pruner

The battery that comes with the GTA 26 is charged via the AL 1 battery charger, which can deliver an 80% charge in 55 minutes and a full charge in 70 minutes. If you want additional AS 2 batteries, these are available for around £30 each. To check the battery charge remaining, simply press the indicator button on the GTA 26, which comprises four LEDs (each 25%) that light up.

Stihl GTA 26 battery charger

The battery charger is pretty fast, although you can pick up second batteries quite cheaply for a longer run-time

The only task that the majority of people won’t really be able to do at home is sharpening the chain. Stihl recommends that you get a dealer to do this job for you.

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Stihl GTA 26 performance – Makes light work of most jobs

Stihl recommends that you use protective glasses whilst using the GTA 26 to prevent harm should any chips flick off the saw chain. Protective footwear and protective chainsaw chaps or trousers wouldn’t go amiss, depending on the setting you’re using the pruner in.

The GTA 26 is pretty easy to use. Just get the pruner up to full speed and then gently move it down to start cutting, letting the saw do the work for you. This is important; trying to push down to cut faster will lock up the pruner. A more gentle action lets the pruner move easily through the timber. The guide on top is hinged, opening up and towards you as you cut, providing constant protection without getting in the way.

Impressively, there’s little vibration through the tool, so it’s comfortable to use cut after cut. And, since this is a battery-powered device, it’s far quieter than petrol equivalents, rated at 77dBA (slightly louder than your average vacuum cleaner).

In use, I found the GTA 26 was capable of slicing through fairly thick logs (8cm), and made short work of smaller branches. Whether you’re simply pruning or have some spare wood that you want to cut up to use in a log burner or open fire, the GTA 26 is a great tool.

Stihl GTA 26 cutting large log

The saw cuts through fairly thick branches with ease

I also had a professional put the GTA 26 through its paces. Joe Lovell from Gardencare Tree Services took it out on a job and said that its power was surprising for such a small machine and that the GTA 26 would be a fantastic tool for garden use.

The battery is set to last for 80 cuts of 4cm timber, or around 25 minutes. Actual run-time will vary depending on log thickness and wood hardness, but second batteries are cheap enough if you need extended run-time.

Should you buy the Stihl GTA 26

The Stihl GTA 26 is a rather incredible tool for managing your garden, making light work of branches and timber, and even coming in use for cutting up wood for use in a fire. Small and lightweight, this pruner has a surprising amount of power, going beyond what you could expect from a handheld tool. Add to this the comparatively low price, which gets you everything you need, and this is an excellent tool for keen gardeners with a fair number of shrubs and trees to maintain.

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