So I’ve been frustrated lately with trying to get bare springbars back in (when I’m going to use a NATO or single pass). The usual springbar tools don’t work great because there’s no strap to steady the springbar while you’re compressing it to insert into the lugs. I’ve tried using my fingernails to “pull” one side down and slide it in, but that’s hit or miss. I was trying to think of a tool design for this, when I remembered an old tool my dad had when I was a kid that seemed like it would be perfect. Couldn’t remember the name, though. So I stopped by Harbor Freight and looked around, and found what I had remembered. They’re called hemostats or locking clamp pliers, and they did exactly what I was hoping. You can lock onto one end of the springbar and then easily insert the other end into the lug, then use the clamp to compress the springbar and insert it into the other lug. I ordered a bent pair from eBay, which I think may make it even easier, but TBH these $3 clamps from Harbor Freight did the job just fine.
(And yes, there are specific springbar pliers, but they seem to be springbar tool ends on a set of pliers, which I think would present the same problems in holding onto bare springbars with no strap present. These locking pliers have a grip on the springbar, so it doesn’t fly off when compressing it without a strap.)
Anyway, google didn’t show this particular method being discussed, so I thought I’d put it out there in case it can help anyone else.