Why even have them in the game? In Ins2, at least they could always guarantee a one-shot kill if you hit the chest or head. I went back and played some Ins2 today and used the bolt action just for kicks and it feels miles ahead of Sandstorm's bolt action guns. You can sight up quickly, it's clear where your crosshair will be without clouding or blocking your vision arbitrarily, your bullets were very accurate, and there were plenty of places where the guns really outperformed the semi-auto snipers. Additionally, the character models moved much, MUCH more naturally as far as turning and sprinting are concerned. It made bolt actions fun, even though they were also maybe a slight handicap.
In Sandstorm, they're SUPER slow to sight up, I find myself off by half of the scope's diameter a lot of the time once I finally do get sighted in, the aiming always feels a little strange, the characters move too fast to accurately track (forcing a reliance on flick shots or guessing where they'll be in 2 seconds and waiting for them to cross into your sights), and then after all of that, you get no hit-reg or the heavy armor lets the person shrug the shot off without flinching.
Every tactical shooter I've played since 1.6 has had a lethal, powerful, and dynamic bolt action rifle of some kind in the game. It has always been my preferred weapon because my aim is naturally very twitchy (could never track well with the lightning gun in Quake, but I was a crack shot with the railgun). So, a powerful single-shot weapon that drops a target instantly (and rewards accuracy) has always appealed to me. I feel like there is no such possibility in Sandstorm, and it's a little disheartening.