Pawnee, After shooting a .500 S&W 2 3/4" barrel (no brake or porting) you will realize the .44 and .45 LC is not even close, the .500 is much more powerful and you can feel it. Not to discredit the .44 or .45 by any means. The first time I shot the .500 I received from a good friend as a gift was with a cylinder full of Buffalo Bore .500 S&W 440 gr LFN-GC (rated 1,625 fps/M.E. 2,579 ft. lbs.) and wanted to know if it was manageable enough in a serious real life situation where a person didn't have much time to react and could be under tremendous stress. I am getting quite use to it and like it more and more as time goes by and know now from practice I would have no trouble using it if needed. And actually found it easier to shoot (in a relaxed environment) with one hand rather than both. I can promise....if you were being charged by an aggressive grizzly/brown bear and your life depended on it you would prefer a 2 3/4" .500 S&W over two .44 or .45 Long Colts of any barrel length without a doubt including a rifle in the same caliber, .44 or .45 LC, it makes that much more difference. And I won't go into their territory without being prepared. Other than with an adequate large caliber rifle I would personally not have anything less than a .454 in grizzly/brown bear country. Although the BB .44 340 gr +P+ in an easy to pack short barrel 3" revolver is tempting. The option to use Std. .44 Mag or .44 Spl in black bear country is an added benefit. IMO The Ruger Alaskan offers the same versatility loaded with stout .454 loads or mild to hot .45 LC ammunition that will provide a person some good insurance for an unexpected bad situation. Perfect for a solo fly-fisherman/woman in small streams and thick brush where quick unexpected encounters can occur. You don't want to second guess what you have when it's too late and the moment of truth is here. Although grizzly/brown bear attacks are rare I do believe a large caliber handgun in good hands can save a person's life. Look, I'm not asking anyone to like or dislike anything or change anyones mind on what they think or like. All I'm saying is not to be so quick to think a short barrel "large" caliber handgun doesn't have potential, they will surprise you in accuracy and power. I didn't believe it myself until I gave it a try and found them to be good for what works for my own personal needs which may not work for others.
In regards to this thread with a few things in mind Aklvin was looking for a back-up in case he was separated from his rifle which happens quite often and the most powerful cartridge for self-protection against an aggressive grizzly/brown bear in the easiest, lightest most comfortable sidearm as possible. And any preference and or advantages to the .44 vs .454 & revolver vs semi-auto pistol. And did my best to offer a few ideas as everyone else did as well.
FWIW, I have a .30-06, .300 Win Mag, .30-378 WBY, .338 Win Mag, .338 Ultra Mag, .444, .450 Marlin, .45/70, .41, .44, .45, .500, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and a bunch of others so I have no reason to pick favorites because of what I have or don't have. I like them all! And they took years of hard work to acquire. I like variety and I like to learn. Fun too! I have a deep passion for all firearms and the outdoors. And have learned to appreciate things for what they are, no need to get upset and better to accept the limitations and capabilities of each. I'm only trying to add or share information to a conversation from my own experiences in life for others who may be interested in the same topic. And appreciate ALL your thoughts, stories and opinions as well!!! It's o.k to disagree and/or have other views. Discussion is a good thing. It helps generate thought and new ideas. What works for some may not work for others. It's all good!!
Elmbow and Aklivin, this response is already too long and will reply in another post. Never was good at giving a short answer, guess I always seem to have a lot to add or say, not sure if that's a good thing or not....
Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!!!