I won't go into any bear country without bear spray. Even black bear. Getting between a black bear sow and her cubs will ruin your day.
My buddy was working a gold claim in Alaska. His partner was across the stream. Suddenly a grizzly attacked my buddy. he put 6 shots into it with a .44 mag revolver. It kept on coming. By then his partner picked up his .458 mag rifle and stopped the bear. So, if you have an elephant gun with you. You might not need bear spray. Otherwise, i'de carry bear spray, and not depend on a handgun for protection.