Abstract We report the generation and properties of few-layer graphene (FLG) in an external magnetic field modulated DC carbon arc in different non-reactive buffer gases. The effects of buffer gases on the anode erosion rate and the cathode deposit (CD) formation rate have been investigated during the synthesis of FLG. The constituents of the as-synthesized CDs were investigated using transmission electron microscopy, selected area electron diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy and X-ray diffraction analysis. A plausible growth mechanism of such FLG is predicted. The results indicate that, under a parametrically optimized condition, an electric-arc of this kind can efficiently introduce rotational stacking faults to the as-synthesized flat FLG, which exhibits superior electron transport property than bulk graphite. A guideline for controlling the number of layers of such FLG has also been suggested.