I live in Kodiak and see bears all the time. I've been mauled by a bear. I know bears.
To put this gently, I really don't think people living in Anchorage and hunting around the crowded road system see enough bears or are even around enough bears to judge this. I mean, theres like 1 Brown/Griz per 100 square miles there. We have 1 bear PER SQUARE MILE here on the island. You see them and deal with them every single time you go out. If you ever have a big 1400 pound male pop out of the alders 5 yards away and "woof" at you, you'll never consider a handgun as brown bear proetction again.
I have to ask - if you have a rifle, what's the pistol for?
The Bears and Bear Maulings Page: members.xoom.com/keithrogan