Do you remember the time you attempted to give the plum tree a major prune? Of course you do because you used one of those small fold-out branch saws that took you about an hour of blood, sweat and tears to complete the task. All that constant back and forth elbow grease, the blade constantly snagging against the moist wood, not to say the ugly finish because you so couldn’t be arsed to cut the branches all the way through, you ill advisedly decided to start taking ‘shortcuts’ by pulling the last sections off, along with long strips of bark. I know your pain because I’ve been there, too.
But I no longer have that pain because I now use one of the best chainsaws on the market today, a cordless chainsaw pruner to perform the same task with zero effort – and in about a tenth of the time. A very small number of manufacturers produce battery-powered micro chainsaws but today we’re going to take a closer look at two market leaders – the Stihl GTA 26 and Bosch AdvancedCut 18.
One of these tools may quickly become your most used gadget when it comes down to the job of tidying up the garden, but which one should you choose? That's what this comparison feature is designed to ascertain.
More concerned with keeping unruly hedges in order? Then take a look at T3's best hedge trimmers buying guide.
Stihl GTA 26 vs Bosch AdvancedCut 18: design
The first two things in Stihl’s favour is brand name and the highly recognisable orange and white colour scheme of its products. Whether it’s a council worker strimming the verge or blowing leaves off the pavement, or a group of tree surgeons pollarding an avenue of Beech trees, chances are they’ll all be using Stihl products. The company’s German, too, so that’s another plus because most German gear is top notch. Mind, Bosch is German too, yet, despite the ubiquitousness of its products in the domestic sector, I think we still all aspire to what the pros use so in that respect the Stihl brand name swings it.
In terms of design, these two tools are quite some distance apart. The Stihl is ostensibly designed for pruning trees though it could certainly be used to cut a piece of four by two, albeit untidily. The Bosch is more of a do-it-all device and is designed just as much for small woodworking jobs as it is for pruning.
The Stihl GTA 26’s Picco Micro 3 chain bar is 10cm in length and designed for lopping off branches up to 4cm in diameter. However, I’ve used it numerous times to cut branches as thick as 10cm in diameter and never had a hiccup. By contrast, the AdvancedCut 18’s titchy 6.5cm NanoBlade is equipped with the tiniest chain you’ve ever seen, yet it somehow manages to cut through branches up to 6.5cm when using the advised rocking motion.
One great safety bonus with the Stihl is that the top of the chain bar is covered with a hinged plastic guard that deflects flying splinters of wood while protecting the user from the viciously fast spinning chain. It also comes with a thumb switch on either side and one of them must be activated before pressing the trigger. The Bosch’s chain bar has no protective guard so it’s not quite as safe to use, especially if you’re a clutz. Like most of its power tools, a thumb switch on the side must be pressed before engaging the trigger.
The Stihl GTA 26 runs off an 11-volt battery while the Bosch AdvancedCut 18 is powered by a more powerful 18v battery. Both models provide up to around 12 minutes of constant cutting power which is pretty good given the dimensions of the batteries. At 1.2kgs, the Stihl is marginally heavier than the Bosch (0.7kgs) but it feels better balanced and therefore more comfortable in the hand, especially after several minutes of use.
Finally, the Stihl GTA 26 comes in a wall-mountable carry bag replete with battery, charger, chain cover and a small bottle of chainsaw oil. The Bosch AdvancedCut 18 is shipped in a hard plastic Bosch case with all gubbins included.
Stihl GTA 26 vs Bosch AdvancedCut 18: cutting performance
When it comes to the tasks these two tools were designed for, the Stihl GTA 26 absolutely walks it. This little chainsaw (or pruner as Stihl prefers it to be known) is the most used tool in my garden shed. I have reached for it on numerous occasions to prune the jungle of trees in the garden and it’s performed impeccably well. It simply scythes through thick branches like the proverbial knife through butter and it has never felt too heavy in the hand, mostly because it cuts so damn quickly.
Yes, I’ve had one or two jams where I’ve stupidly started the motor with the blade resting on a branch (you need to start the blade first and then do the cut) and the chain came off its guide at least once which was no big deal to put back on again. Other than that, it’s been a sterling performer. Astonishingly, it even survived a four-metre drop onto concrete. Ouch!
By comparison, the Bosch AdvancedCut 18 was a lot slower to cut through the same diameter of tree branch and it required more of a rocking motion to complete the task or it would jam midway. To be fair, the Bosch’s chain is way smaller than the Stihl’s, so physics alone should tell you that it won’t perform as well at lopping off large branches. Nevertheless, the little AdvancedCut 18 was better than the Stihl as a DIY tool. It’s nothing like as efficient as a jigsaw, but it’s still a handy tool to have for those odd jobs around the home.
Stihl GTA 26 vs Bosch AdvancedCut 18: verdict
When it comes to lopping off branches, the Stihl GTA 26 is unquestionably the better option. At £149 including battery and charger, it’s also £45 cheaper than the Bosch AdvancedCut 18. In a nutshell, you really can’t go wrong with a Stihl, and that’s all I have to say on the matter.