"if you feel a .44 is a better choice, by all means bring it."
I know (assume) you were speaking generically about firearms for bear protection. But for completeness, I'll point out that none of the outdoors people whose experience and judgement I respect rely on a handgun for bear defense - there's just not enough foot-pound in even a .454 much less a .44 to stop a bear quickly. Even the biggest long guns require a quick acting and accurate shooter and a bit of luck.
The State of Alaska recommends that if you're carrying a gun for bear protection, it be a minimum of .300 Winchester Magnum or 12-gauge with rifled slug. Those are, ballpark, 3,000 foot pounds of energy versus 1000 or less for large handguns. Most commonly, in my area, people hunt moose and even deer with a .338 not because they need that firepower for the ungulates but because then it doubles (Gear Multiuse!) as bear protection. (And a .375 or .458 just hurts so much to shoot that you don't practice a lot, so you're not as good with it).
All of these thoughts pertain to large brown bears. YMMV. Although we have 8 times more black bears than salmon-eating brown bears in this area, blackies are not the concern. Perhaps it's their being a prey animal that causes them to lay low. I see far more browns than black each year.
Me, I can't see carrying 7 or 8 pounds that I can't eat or wear. So I'll keep calling out and otherwise making noise - statistically the safer approach anyway.
It is striking how emotional the arguments about bear guns gets ("My Daddy always told me . . . ") but such a wide range of guns are used on large halibut and no one argues their choice is the only possible right choice.