I have some questions about what you have posed, not necessarily arguing, but trying to understand...In the mentioned scenario, you have mentioned that the bear could be expected to close quickly, as much as 40 feet per second, and in the last few yards where the gun is pretty much thrust in the bears face, and a miss may be quite hard to imagine, we are talking fractions of a second which means in this case we may only have 'one shot'. Are you saying you prefer a .357 heavy penetrator, to a .44 heavy penetrator at this point? It seems the rapid fire capability is moot in this situation.So let's say we're not Superman , and can only group three or four heavy .357's per second . --- And let's say ( for scenario ) , that the Bear is closing the last few yards , -- so that we're beginning to thrust the gun right into his head / face , -- which is getting quite hard to miss now . ----- Do you have confidence in this shooting style - ??
Personally , I do .
And saying that only having one shot is scary or somehow dangerous is something I must say I disagree with wholeheartedly. Remember, data has shown that police officers who used to be limited to 6 shot revolvers had higher hit ratios per shot fired with the limited firepower but heavier recoiling .357, than when the police officers increased capacity of their firearms to 15 round 9mm handguns. The issue of shot placement and accuracy fell prey to a similar mindset you describe in confronting bears, less recoil and being able to fire second shots quicker. From this study we learned that shot placement is more critical than the number of rounds we carry, or the time it takes to fire them. The same is true in the field/woods as well. Hunting is all about learning to make that first shot count.
Something to consider is not just the recoil, but muzzle rise. The muzzle rise is what keeps you from firing the next shot quickly, not necessarily recoil. This is why compensators are so prolific on competition guns. The recoil is still there, but the muzzle rise is made negligible...
A light weight scandium 386 smith and wesson firing potent hardcast 180 gr. penetrating bullets will have more muzzle rise than a ruger super redhawk .44 magnum firing 300gr. hardcast penetrating. Which would you prefer of those two? The 386 is much lighter, holds one more round, but in a practice session or competition, the super redhawk may actually be fired faster... This particular comparison negates your argument entirely, unless portability is thrown into the equation. In the lower 48 where there are more people and more individuals who 'scare' easy by seeing a large firearm and where the size of the bears is no longer as large as they once were, smaller and lighter is better. In Alaska, where there are fewer people, and the game is much larger, heavier, and dangerous, well a heavier larger caliber gun that you can shoot just as fast as the lighter lesser caliber gun would be better.
There are incidents where bear attacks have been stopped in Alaska with .35 caliber handguns, one in particular with a 9mm Beretta during a fishing trip. The 9mm did not penetrate the skull, but was lodged under the hide against the skull. It had the same effect as a blank fired at point blank contact against the temple area of our skull. If I remember correctly, the magazine of the gun was emptied at the bear. If you talk to that guy today, he would definitely prefer a larger caliber handgun he could shoot less rapidly if a handgun was all he could take.
I do not recall any instances of survivors of large bear attacks favoring the smaller caliber handgun that you can shoot a tad faster than a larger caliber handgun that would shoot slower. Maybe they are out there, but I have not heard of them or spoken to them...
Having said that, a .357 loaded with a 180 hard cast is all that is needed in most applications, especially in the lower 48. Alaska and I would venture to say Africa as well is another ball game alltogether.