When it comes to bears (actually, ANY wildlife), I am more of a "enjoy from a distance, avoid close encounters!" type person than a "what caliber do I shoot it with?" person.

But I'm just a hiker in the lower 48. If I were a fisherman up in Alaska brown bear country, I wouldn't be looking for the smallest caliber that someone said was effective, I'd be looking for the most powerful thing I could manage to carry and shoot effectively. For handguns, I'd be investigating things like .454 Casull, .460 S&W, .500 S&W, .45-70 Gov, etc. Sorry .357 Mag, I like you a lot, but you're not even at the bottom of my list of choices for bears, you're not on the list at all. I've shot those other large guns, they're not fun "range toys", but I'm not terribly recoil-shy and and hit well with them. On the first shot, that is. The followup shot is more likely to take out a 747 flying overhead though, unless I take the requisite 5 seconds to bring the muzzle back down on target! I'd much rather have a rifle, and a powerful one at that. With bears, it's just better to take camera shots, not gun shots.