The downside to the higher gain screens is that they have a narrow viewing cone, you definitely want to sit as close to being in the center as possible. Even in the center seat, on scenes with large bright areas, such as the sky, you will likely see some roll off in the corners. Remember that projectors inherently are slightly brighter in the center than the corners (most claim 85% to 90% evenness of illumination, and that means that the corners are only 85 to 90 percent as bright as the center. Add the screen roll off in, and you can spot the rolloff. Is it great? Is it a problem? Let's just say, no, it's not great, but all else considered, better to avoid the higher gain screens. In other words, just one more trade-off to consider as you pick your next projector.
Can you use a nice high contrast gray screen? Sure, and it will further improve the black levels. I really wouldn't recommend going that route though, unless you had good reasons, and I can think of two: First, if you have a side ambient light problem, as the HC gray surface, will "reject" much of it. As an example Firehawk is an HC gray and it does really help, with my windows (though covered) on one side of my room. The second reason is if you have a very small screen - 82 inch diagonal, maybe up to 92" diagonal. With those sized screens you shouldn't have to worry about lumens, so why not enjoy even better black levels than a white surfaced screen can provide?