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A long-pulse Cr:Nd:GSGG laser was operated at almost 2 J output energy and almost 5 percent efficiency, using an uncooled pump cavity. An Nd:YAG rod in the same pump cavity produced 3.75 percent efficiency. Using a water-cooled pump cavity of standard design, the thermal focusing of Cr:Nd:GSGG was found to be almost six times that of Nd:YAG for the same flashlamp input energy. The thermal birefringence of the GSGG was also observed to be significantly higher than that of YAG. The performance of a -switched Cr:Nd:GSGG laser was characterized and compared to the predictions of a mathematical model for the laser. This yielded an estimate of cm2for the peak stimulated emission cross section of Nd3+in GSGG. Using the same technique for Nd:YAG yielded a value of cm2.