The place they excel is where the semi-autos do not, but also the point of them isn't to be 1:1 competitive with semi-autos... just like in real life.
If you're a very skilled player, you will favor using the M16 with the long-range optic on obviously, but there are distinct benefits to the bolt-action rifles as they get armor piercing ammo (and THAT is what they explicitly excel at) which allows them to not only reach out and touch, but also increased penetration on what would otherwise be cover with non-AP ones.
As far as what they perform like with controls etc, the Mosin Nagant has a case of it needing to be a bit "less friendly" in use, as more classes than the marksman class get it, but that doesn't mean it couldn't get animations being more in line with rational use of it (i.e; if they're going to have that whole animation of stopping ADS to cycle the bolt, it might as well be much quicker).
Bolt-actions fit into a niche, but they could always give them additional customization options to make them have more appeal (like maybe giving them in-line mounted NV optic attachments when night & NVG gameplay comes along, but not give it to semi-autos, so you'd have day-optics only on the others or maybe have it be cheaper for the bolt-action ones). Plenty of ways to make them more appealing eventually.
I have to agree with you, my dude. Bolt actions aren't meant to be used for run and gunning or breach and clearing. If that's what you're using them for, then you're using it wrong. It's higher caliber, full sized rifle cartridge is meant to penetrate heavy armor and be highly accurate. Not to be able to out shoot a semi or full auto. On that note, the Mosin's straight bolt handle design doesn't allow for operating the bolt while keeping on the sights. Even with the angled bolt handle that you get with scope attachments, it would still be precarious to operate while keeping on target. I'm not ok with the devs completely redesigning a real rifle just for the sake of ease of gameplay for the handful of players who actually use it. I use it quite frequently and find it just fine. It's a fun gun to use if you want a challenge. You just need to learn what it's weaknesses and strengths are and adapt. If you can't do that, then use a different gun.
That said, I've found that even with it being a highly powerful, armor piercing rifle, it doesn't always get those one shot kill like it should. I've shot bots and the armor completely blocks it with no affect and bots get that insta-kill one shot pistol headshot on me immediately there after. The game as a whole still needs work but some fixes on some of these weapons would be nice as well as added content.
@coachon The issue isn't the bot's difficulty. I recently played a Co-op game where I shot a bot about 5-6 times in the chest with the SKS only for it to turn, rechamber a round (it was using the Mosin), aim and fire, killing me with one shot. Even with INS2 and DOI, it was all about shot placement. You shoot someone in the legs, they're wounded, screen turns a little red, and they're weakened, but not dead. It should be the same for this. Certain shot placements should be one shot. Chest to head = one shots unless armored or hit with AP rounds with bolt actions and sniper rifles while armored. I've shot enemies in the head with the pistols for them only to survive and turn around and kill me. A head shot with any gun should be a one shot unless wearing armor. This particular bot was not. It's things like that. One shots in games should be used sparingly to avoid people running around and wildly shooting through walls but it should also be used far more often then it is now. I think it's less of a need for consistent one shot kills and more of consistent hit reg that is needed. A lot more one shots would occur if they fixed that. People just don't realize because it's so out of wack at the moment. Also, if you're using a bolt action, use the long barrel. It helps with the hit reg issue for whatever reason.