Firearms vs. Bear Spray in Grizzly Country

Admittedly, this is a strange topic to cover in early March, but it seems to keep coming up among my circle of friends. It resurfaced again last weekend when I was talking about a trip down to the South Fork of the Flathead River that I have planned for this summer with some good friends. It’s a long trip into remote country, and, like many remote places up north, it seems to be rife with grizzly bears. So, do I sacrifice my already small weight limit for a firearm or do I simply bring a can of bear spray?

Now, I've been on plenty of trips where protection from bears was absolutely warranted, but which type of defense is best in grizzly country is a bit of a sticking point for folks. Most of the studies I've seen unequivocally claim that bear spray is the safer way to go, at least based on the numbers. But I'm also concerned about my mental state in a tent at night. I know there's only a very small chance that a bear will do anything to me while I sleep, but should one attack, a can of bear spray isn't gonna do jack in my tent. An 870, with an extended mag full of slugs, maybe.

I’m curious what your thoughts are on the matter. Anyone out there have any first-hand experience in this realm?