In the Blue Ridge... National Park rangers actually recommend bear spray and a big stick over any handgun for dealing with black bears. They swear by a whack on the nose with a hiking stick.
That's probably because their job tells them they can't say shoot it with the biggest gun you can possibly have on you.
As for myself, I carry bear spray and whatever gun I can have on me dictated by rules of where I am. I'm seriously considering putting an Aimpoint on a .30-30 because the #1 consideration is speed above all else.